Here's why the Jets-Colts trade is great news for Browns, Giants and bad news for Bills, Broncos
The Jets made their move up the draft board which could have a ripple effect around the league
The Jets may have missed out on Kirk Cousins in free agency but they're making sure they don't miss out on a franchise quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York Colts on Saturday morning to move up from No. 6 to No. 3. The details:
- Jets get the No. 3 overall pick in 2018
- Colts get No. 6 overall pick, 37th overall pick, 49th overall pick in 2018 and a 2019 second-round pick
The last time the Jets traded up in the first round to take a quarterback? In 2009, when they moved up to No. 5 to grab Mark Sanchez. The team has drafted five quarterbacks since -- Geno Smith (2013) and Christian Hackenberg (2015) in the second round, Bryce Petty (2015) in the fourth round, Taj Boyd (2014) in the sixth round and Greg McElroy (2011) in the seventh round -- and all, to varying degrees, have been busts.
The hope is that changes in April.
But here's the thing: Unless the Jets have high grades on three draft-eligible quarterbacks, there's still the chance they don't get their guy(s). Because a) there's no way the Browns aren't taking a quarterback at No. 1 (right?), and b) the Giants, with the No. 2 pick, are suddenly the NFL's most popular team among those outfits desperately in search of a franchise passer and willing to leap-frog the Jets to land one.
Why the Jets trade is great news for the Browns
The speculation in recent weeks is that the Browns, who have the first and fourth-overall picks, could take running back Saquon Barkley at No. 1 and then circle back at No. 4 to get their quarterback. This seems silly, even by Cleveland standards, especially when you consider that this is the same organization that traded down in 2016 and 2017 and in the process missed out on drafting Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson -- who are now two of the league's most exciting young players.
New general manager John Dorsey was hired in December and all indications are the Browns are taking a quarterback. Yes, they traded for Tyrod Taylor, and no, Tyrod Taylor doesn't consider himself a bridge quarterback. But let's be honest: Tyrod Taylor is a bridge quarterback. The good news for Taylor is that the Browns have no plans to rush another young quarterback onto the field -- going 1-31 in two seasons with Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and DeShone Kizer will make a coach understandably gun shy in that regard -- so Taylor will have much of the 2018 season to prove he deserves to be a starter.
"We've played young players here the last two years, and that hasn't worked,'' Jackson said this week, via Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. "Grooming a young quarterback, letting him learn, sit and learn and grow and understand what it takes to play in the National Football League is truly the way to do it. We're going to draft a quarterback at some point here. We all know that. But again, that guy just needs to know that the starter here is going to be Tyrod Taylor."
Which means that whomever the Browns fall in love with ahead of the draft -- Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield -- can be eased into the offense. It also means, by virtue of the Jets trading up to No. 3, that Cleveland can take virtually anybody it wants with the No. 4 pick. Do they want the draft's most dynamic offensive player? Saquon Barkley is there. Do they want the draft's most dynamic pass rusher to pair opposite Myles Garrett? Bradley Chubb is there too.
There is one caveat however, which we'll discuss next ...
Why the Jets trade is great news for the Giants
If you're a Giants fan looking for a silver lining to going 3-13, this is it. The Giants have the second-overall pick in the draft, and while general manager Dave Gettleman hasn't explicitly stated who New York will target, there's no guarantee he has his sights on a quarterback, even though 37-year-old Eli Manning is coming off a dreadful season. In Manning's defense, the entire team was terrible in 2017 and Manning is still good enough -- given a supporting cast -- to get this team to the playoffs. Last month, TheMMQB.com's Peter King wrote, "Much smarter NFLers than I told me in the last few days they think GM Dave Gettleman will pass on a quarterback to fill another major need at number two overall, and I don't doubt it," which adds credence to the notion that adding a passer at the top of the draft may not be a priority.
And if Gettleman truly is of the belief that filling other "major needs" is critical to prompt a Giants turnaround, New York is in the catbird seat. With quarterback-needy teams particularly desperate this time of year, all Gettleman has to do is wait for the phone to ring and field offers. Our colleague Will Brinson.
"Are we open for business? Any decision I make is going to be in the best interest of the New York Giants, plain and simple," Gettleman said from the combine in February. "If someone makes me an offer I can't refuse, would I move back? It depends upon who is there. Again, if there is a guy that is worthy enough of being the second pick of a draft and what we are basically saying if we answer that question to the affirmative, you are drafting what you think is going to be a Hall of Fame player. You can't get too cute about the whole thing."
If the Jets were willing to part with the No. 6, No. 37 and No. 49 picks in 2018 AND a 2019 second-rounder -- to move up three spots -- imagine what the Giants could get from teams further down the draft board. They've been linked to Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson because he's one of the best linemen in the draft and the team has a glaring need along the offensive line. But given the likely run on skill-position players among the top 4-5 picks, the Giants could trade down, stockpile a bunch of much-needed picks, and still get Nelson.
Worst case: The Giants stay put and take Barkley, or even a quarterback. whom they could still trade should the offer arise.
The Bills were the first team to make a move up the draft board, moving from 21st to 12th in a deal with the Bengals that included Buffalo offensive tackle Cordy Glenn going to Cincinnati. The Bills still have the 22nd pick but even with two first-rounders it would be prohibitive to move up to No. 2. Two years ago, this is what the Eagles had to give the Browns to go from No. 8 to No. 2: a first-, third- and a fourth-round pick in 2016, a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018.
In return, Philadelphia got a fourth-round pick in 2017 and, oh yeah, the right to draft Carson Wentz.
In hindsight, it was a brilliant gamble by Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. And while NFL coaches and front-office types are risk-averse by nature, the recent success of such bold moves could be the impetus for others to take a gamble. That includes the Texans, who last year sent the 25th pick and a 2018 first-rounder to the Browns to move up to No. 12 and draft Deshaun Watson.
On the surface, the Bills, and to a lesser extent, the Broncos are the big losers in the Jets-Colts trade, at least in terms of landing a quarterback in the draft. Yes, Buffalo signed AJ McCarron and Denver signed Case Keenum. McCarron has four career starts and is unproven. Keenum was one of the NFL's best quarterbacks last season but can he duplicate that success in 2018 and beyond? That's a huge question, and why the Broncos remain on the hunt for a young passer.
Either way, the storyline is this: With six weeks between now and the draft a lot can change. And if recent history is any guide, a lot will change as teams to continue to jockey for position at the top of the board.
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