The Jets are in the middle of a questionable offseason, one that extended well into June when it came to making bizarre personnel moves that will not necessarily guarantee them success in the future.
New York decided this very week to release both veteran linebacker David Harris ---- and veteran wideout Eric Decker -- -- despite clearly needing the talent and veteran leadership on their roster. The Jets look like a team tanking for the 2018 NFL Draft.
The franchise's battleship was already sunk before the season began, largely. The 2013 and 2014 drafts were some of the worst you will see from any team, ever. An influx of veterans helped the Jets catch lightning in a bottle for 10 wins in 2015, but the price is being paid now.
It is entirely possible, perhaps likely, that the Jets have the worst roster in the NFL. One NFL personnel man told Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network that he thinks they have the worst roster he's seen in "a decade."
From an NFL exec- "I think the Jets might have the worst roster I've seen in a decade."— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) June 7, 2017
That is a pretty bold statement when you consider how bad some of the teams trotted out by NFL franchises have been. Let's run through the worst team in each of the last 10 years and see if the Jets really have a case.
2016 Cleveland Browns (1-15)
Right off the bat, a true contender for this battle. Like the Jets, the Browns had Josh McCown at quarterback. Unlike the Browns, the Jets somehow have worse options than Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler (Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty). Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson versus Matt Forte and Bilal Powell feels like a wash. The Browns got a 1,000-yard receiving season from Terrelle Pryror and a 612-yard season from Gary Barnidge. Duke Johnson was their third-leading receiver because Corey Coleman, who shined early as a rookie, was injured. The Jets are going to start Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and either Austin Sefarian-Jenkins or fifth-round rookie Jordan Leggett. Advantage, Browns. Cleveland's offensive line with Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio was better too.
The Jets would have the advantage on the defensive line -- the team's only strength -- thanks to Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Both teams had Demario Davis at linebacker! We would largely lean towards the Browns talent at linebacker overall and give Cleveland the edge in the secondary as well. Jamal Adams could be great, but he will be hard-pressed to make a huge impact on a bad team. It would not be surprising if this defense stole a game or two; it's why releasing Harris is so surprising.
2015 Tennessee Titans (2-14)
Sure they were starting Bishop Sankey and Dexter McCluster at running back, but there are enough players on this team that would qualify as "talent you want your franchise to have" including Delanie Walker, Jurrell Casey and Taylor Lewan. Plus they had Marcus Mariota. Woody Johnson would bathe in nothing but baby shampoo for the rest of his life to acquire Mariota.
2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14)
Tied with the Titans for the worst record in football that year, they had the first pick and used it on Jameis Winston. Mike Evans, Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David were already on the team and they would be the best players on the Jets immediately. Worth noting here: Josh McCown was also on this team. He was part of a high-priced splurge in free agency that backfired badly for the Bucs, although the end result was them landing Winston so it wasn't all that horrible.
2013 Houston Texans (2-14)
J.J. Watt was on this roster. Moving on.
2012 Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
Offensively this team was a hot mess outside of Jamaal Charles, but Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Eric Berry would all be upgrades for the Jets. Would you take 2012 Matt Cassell or 2016 Josh McCown? Dwayne Bowe would start for the Jets. This team let Peyton Hillis attempt a pass. Say that out loud.
2011 Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
The "Suck for Luck" team that spawned a million different tanking slogans featured Reggie Wayne (then 33) and Pierre Garcon (then 27) almost both topping 1,000 yards while catching passes from Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins. Robert Mathis was 30 and Dwight Freeney was 31. The issue here is that Peyton Manning was on this team too and he went on to set the record for most points scored in a season two years later with Denver. This is really a testament to how much he propped up a roster. Think we still take the Colts over the Jets though.
2010 Carolina Panthers (2-14)
A team undone by horrible draft-day trades from Marty Hurney (the Jeff Otah and Everette Brown deals destroyed this team) eventually selected Cam Newton with the top pick and turned its fortunes around. Both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were in their early-to-mid 20s and running well. Jon Beason was 25. Charles Johnson was 24. Steve Smith was in the middle of his first Renaissance although playing with Jimmy Clausen this year nearly killed him (or others). The Panthers were bad but better than the Jets.
2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15)
People forget just how good Steven Jackson was for a while. At 26 he rushed for 1,600-plus yards. This team also had a 24-year-old Chris Long and a 23-year-old James Laurinitis. This Rams team might be closer to the bottom than anyone else.
2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)
"Iiiiiiiiiiiin thiiiiiiiis corner, weighing 245 pounds and sporting an undefeated record ........" The Lions would be the strongest contender available here, but doesn't the presence of Calvin Johnson beat out anything the Jets have? At the very least a 22-year-old Cliff Avril should put them over the top even with the winless season.
2007 Miami Dolphins (1-15)
This was a very bad team as well. Jesse Chatman was the team's leading rusher both in yards and attempts. That is a highlight we're describing. A 31-year-old Marty Booker was the team's top receiver. Jason Taylor had 11 sacks, while Joey Porter had 5.5. The defense didn't have the young talent that the Jets do and this would be a game where Cleo Lemon and McCown squared off against one another. Yeesh.
The biggest difference between the Jets in 2017 and these other teams is that we knew what these other teams had. The Jets have a hint of promise having just used a top-10 pick on a player of Jamal Adams' quality. Leonard Williams offers hope for the future as well. So maybe the Jets have more promise for the future than the other terrible teams on this list, with the 2007 Dolphins, 2008 Lions and 2009 Rams, all of whom were victims of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, which held teams hostage with huge rookie salaries.
The Jets probably have more upside from that perspective than those three teams, but they are also the WORST of these teams in terms of having players who can reliably contribute right now. If they went head-to-head against these other teams, the older teams would walk away with wins in our opinion.
So, yes, the Jets have a great case for the worst roster in the last decade.