Jets GM showed his hand last year when it comes to trading picks, went all in this year

On Saturday, the New York Jets made a bold move up the draft board, trading their first-round pick and three second-rounders to the Indianapolis Colts in order to move up three spots and put themselves in position to draft a potential franchise quarterback. 

The move was pretty shocking in the moment, but looking back, we probably should have seen it coming. Shortly after his team's season ended, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan basically announced his intention to trade up for a quarterback

"The simple answer to that question is yes," Maccagnan said, per "If that was a player we felt strong about, we would have no qualms of potentially trying to go up and get him."

Maccagnan basically did the same thing, as far as foreshadowing his intention, last year. The Jets finished the 2016 season with a 5-11 record and held picks No. 6, 39, 70, 107, 150, 191, and 224 in the 2017 draft. They had a ton of holes to fill on their team, and so in March, Maccagnan declared that his team was "open for business" to any team that wanted to move up in any round because he was looking to collect extra draft picks. 

"I think the one thing for ourselves would be, we would like to move back and acquire more picks in this draft if possible," he said at the time. "We're open for business in every round. If somebody wants to move up in any particular round, call us up."

When the actual draft rolled around, the Jets didn't trade their first-round selection (they took LSU safety Jamal Adams), but they did make five trades, moving down the board in every single one of them while turning four picks into seven. 

  • Jets trade No. 70 to Vikings and receive No. 79 and No. 160
  • Jets trade No. 107 to Buccaneers and receive No. 125 and No. 204
  • Jets trade No. 125 to Rams and receive No. 141 and No. 197
  • Jets trade No. 160 and No. 224 to Browns and receive No. 181 and No. 188
  • Jets trade No. 191 to Cowboys and receive 2018 5th-round pick

Because the Jets received and then traded No. 125 and No. 160 in separate deals, their total haul looks like this:

  • Traded: No. 70, 107, 191, 224
  • Received: No. 79, 141, 181, 188, 197, 204, 2018 5th-rounder (DAL)

As we wrote at the time, how you felt about those deals likely depended on whether you consider yourself an old-school or new-school kind of thinker. 

Old-school draftniks likely still use the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart that was popularized by the Cowboys in the early 1990s. On that chart, the Jets came out losers in this series of deals, no matter where that 2015 fifth-rounder from the Cowboys falls. The Jets surrendered four picks totaling 337 points on the Jimmy Johnson chart, while receiving six picks totaling 288.1 points in this year's draft and a fifth-round selection that will yield between 27.4 and 43 points in the 2018 draft, depending on where the Cowboys finish next season. Either way, that looks like a loss. It's a mild loss equivalent to giving away the 191st pick for free, and you can argue that turning four picks into seven still makes it a win, especially considering just how many holes the Jets have on their roster. 

Newer-school draft thinkers that prefer to use the AV-based draft value chart popularized by Chase Stuart (explained here and here) and favored by more analytically-inclined front offices will likely think of this series of deals as a clear win. There, the Jets surrendered four picks totaling 13.6 points, and received six picks totaling 14.4 points in this year's draft, and a fifth-round selection that will yield between 2.3 and 3.7 points in the 2018 draft, depending on where the Cowboys finish next season That's the equivalent of generating a fourth or fifth-round pick out of mid-air, and you get to make seven selections out of four. That's a win no matter how you slice it. 

This year's trade is different. The Jets took heavy losses on both the Jimmy Johnson chart (received 2,200 points; traded 2,540 points in 2018 and 270-580 points in 2019) and the Chase Stuart chart (received 27.6 points; traded 44.6 points in 2018 and 8.1-12.3 points in 2019) in order to move up just three spots in the first round. 

In fairness, there are other considerations at play here: the Jets are clearly targeting a quarterback and were sitting behind the Broncos; and the Bills have been heavily rumored to be interested in trading up for a quarterback and could have leapfrogged the Jets as well. The Browns are widely considered likely to take a quarterback at No. 1 and the Giants could take one at No. 2 as well. If the Bills traded up and the Broncos took one as well, the Jets could have been left out of the mix for one of the top four QBs in the draft. Moving up to No. 3 at least ensures they will get one of those players, even if quarterbacks go first and second. 

That said, it's entirely possible that the Giants don't take a QB at No. 2, and/or that the Broncos don't take one at No. 5. (The Colts have Andrew Luck and the Browns aren't going to take two QBs in the top-five, so barring someone jumping them with a trade, the greatest number of quarterbacks that would have come off the board before the No. 6 pick was three.) The Jets could have possibly stayed at No. 6 and still gotten one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the draft. After they just handed out $16 million in contracts to Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater in free agency, surrendering three second-rounders to move up three spots seems like an awfully heavy price to pay without knowing for sure that it's what has to be done to get your man. That's especially true because (a) nobody knows which quarterback the Browns will take at No. 1; (b) nobody knows whether the Giants will take a QB, or which one they will take if they do; and (c) the Giants could still trade down and somebody could swoop in on the Jets and land the guy they want. 

To consider this deal an outright win for the Jets, you basically have to believe that they value three quarterbacks in this class essentially equally, that they were sure none of those three quarterbacks would be there at No. 6, and that they're correct in their evaluation of those quarterbacks. Considering it's extremely unlikely the Jets value three quarterbacks in this class equally, that NFL teams are almost always wrong in their evaluation of quarterbacks, and the Jets in particular have shown themselves to be very wrong in their evaluation of quarterbacks (Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg say hi), it's hard to view this as anything but a loss. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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