The New York Jets, rebuffed in their attempts to trade for Khalil Mack and Dante Fowler this summer, remain adamant about adding pass-rushing talent and will continue to explore trades and signings, according to league sources. The team will continue a creative approach and cast a wide net to try to add at an area in short supply around the NFL, and the most glaring weakness on their roster.
"They are going to leave no stone unturned," is how one source familiar with their thinking described the process.
Adding an impact edge rusher is the organization's primary objective, sources said, and the Jets will not be shy about approaching other organizations. With over $100 million in cap space available in 2019, and a strong commitment from ownership (the Jets tried to give $90 million guaranteed to quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason, keep in mind), the Jets will be aggressive in trying to meet this need, and were in fact more serious about landing Mack than many realize.
League sources said the Raiders, in whittling down the market for Mack, did not hold a true auction for the All-Pro's services, and in essence closed the bidding once they had received assurances the Bears would trade two first-round picks. The Jets were prepared to beat that offer if need be, the sources said, but were never presented with the opportunity. Ultimately, the Raiders believe the picks from the Bears may be higher in the draft order, and by trading him to Chicago, they also moved him out of the AFC for the foreseeable future.
Some have likened the machinations of this transaction to the Patriots' trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers last season, at a time when the Browns would have been willing to trade more than a second-round pick for the promising quarterback but were never granted the opportunity. Regardless, the Jets' willingness to meet that price in terms of draft picks and the financial package the Bears gave Mack was quite real, and they will be major players for any impact pass rushers who become available, with a 2019 free agent class perhaps including players like Fowler, Demarcus Lawrence, Ziggy Ansah and others depending on other considerations such as how other clubs utilize the franchise tag.