The Jets are done messing around. After missing out on Kirk Cousins during free agency, and instead having to settle for veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater as short-term options, the team announced a blockbuster trade on Saturday to move up from No. 6 to No. 3 in the 2018 NFL Draft.
- 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
It's safe to assume the Jets aren't targeting Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb but have their eyes on a franchise quarterback. Now the question becomes who that might be. Based on the most recent round of CBSSports.com mock drafts, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield are the favorites, but that was when the Jets had the sixth-overall pick. Now at three, and with the Browns almost certainly taking a quarterback No. 1, New York could have USC's Sam Darnold or Wyoming's Josh Allen in its sights too.
But intrigue remains because the other New York team -- the Giants -- have the No. 2 pick and don't seem likely to take a quarterback there. Which means that another club desperate to find its franchise quarterback -- the Broncos and Bills come to mind -- still have an opportunity to leap-frog the Jets at No. 3. Put another way: With the draft six weeks away, expect teams to keep jockeying for position at the top of the board.
The Colts, meanwhile, remain optimistic about Andrew Luck's prognosis. By trading down, not only is Indianapolis signaling that it has no plans to draft a quarterback, but can address other pressing needs with the newly acquired picks.
This trade follows a recent trend of teams with clear needs at quarterback willing to risk future success to land a franchise talent right now. In 2012, the Redskins pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Rams to move up and take Robert Griffin III. In 2016, the Eagles leap-frogged their way to the No. 2 spot to get Carson Wentz, and the Texans and Chiefs both traded up in the first round last year to land Deshaun Watson and Pat Mahomes.
Perhaps losing out on Cousins -- whom the Jets reportedly offered $30 million a year -- is a blessing. Instead of having all that money tied up in one position, the Jets can hope to follow the blueprints laid out by the Rams and Eagles, two teams with young franchise quarterbacks midway through their relatively inexpensive rookie deals. The extra salary-cap space allows those teams to acquire playmakers up and down the roster -- and that's exactly what Los Angeles and Philadelphia have done this offseason -- and immediately contend (or in the Eagles' case, defend) for a Super Bowl title.