The Jets have created a Cousins-sized pickle for themselves
The Jets have a need for a QB and Kirk Cousins wants to get paid. Is there true a connection between the two to make it work?
Free agency for the NFL begins on March 14th at 4 PM. The New York Jets have a lot to work to do, finishing the season 5-11 last year. It’s their sixth straight season missing the playoffs and GM Mike Maccagnan is on his last legs to put together a playoff contender. In addition, there aren’t many seats that are hotter than Head Coach Todd Bowles’, whose past two 5-11 seasons are a far cry from the 10-6 2015 season.
The Jets have some decisions to make before free agency starts. The biggest one being whether to go after Kirk Cousins, or to take a chance on one of the quarterbacks in this upcoming NFL Draft. With the sixth overall pick, the team may need to move up a few spots to get their man, depending on who it is.
Regardless of what the Jets pick, they put themselves in an unfortunate predicament. They are too bad to contend right now for the Super Bowl, but management has too much on the line to throw away another season. Another rebuild may turn away an even larger portion of the fan base. The GM and all of the coaches will probably be looking for jobs after next season if that’s the case. With the Jets draft history, taking a swing at Cousins is the ideal move.
There are points to be made on both ends of this argument.
The Argument FOR Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins is a very interesting quarterback. As a Redskin, he became a very talented quarterback who has been hindered by poor wide receiver play and a “can’t win a big game” stigma. Cousins is 26-30-1 but the stats don’t tell the whole story. Cousins has a career completion percentage of 65.5%, good for fifth best in NFL history. He also has 99 touchdowns and only 55 interceptions. In his only career playoff start, Cousins was 29-46 for 329 yards and one touchdown. The stats don’t lie that Cousins has been misconstrued as an unclutch quarterback. It seems to be more bad luck than anything.
In addition to some of Cousins’ accomplishments, he is now in the prime of his career. At just 29-years old, he has at least six or seven solid seasons left in him. The Jets can easily take advantage of that when structuring his contract, front-loading it so he’ll actually be worth the money.
The Jets must make a splash because the last legitimate quarterback they had was Chad Pennington. When Pennington was your last good quarterback you may need to step back and rethink some things over. The Jets have the money and need to pull the trigger before it’s too late. Their days of hoping to draft the next Peyton Manning are long gone. The Jets have done this for years and the results have been disastrous. The last two quarterbacks they drafted are barely NFL quarterbacks and Jets fans are sick of constantly rebuilding.
When was the last time in general that the Jets made a splash in free agency, quarterback or not? Rolling the dice on Kirk Cousins isn’t just a football move; it’s a move that could restore faith in the franchise through the fans’ eyes. All these years of taking flyers on journeymen quarterbacks and bad draft picks could be forgiven if Cousins ever delivers.
The Case AGAINST Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins may have a gaudy stat line and a little bad luck, but he’s poised to become the highest paid quarterback in history and has one playoff start. Jimmy Garoppolo got paid two weeks ago, agreeing to a max deal of five years, 137.5 million dollars. Cousins is aligned for a similar payday. Like Garoppolo, he hasn’t really done much to prove his worth.
Is it a telling sign that the Redskins refused to commit to a long-term deal with Cousins, then traded for Alex Smith? Do they know he has limited capabilities as a starting quarterback and have hinted at that for years with their actions? Cousins may become the highest-paid QB in NFL history, but he definitely is not the most talented.
The Jets could do a lot more with their available money if they drafted a quarterback instead of signing Cousins. Their QB play was actually quite good at the beginning of the season with Josh McCown at the helm. If you think about it, the Jets could have easily won at least nine games if each were only three quarters long. The team could greatly improve their offensive line, linebackers and skill positions through free agency rather than grab only a quarterback. Their defensive line is stout and Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are two of the best young safeties in the game. This team is a few pieces from improving themselves greatly, and the money can be spent elsewhere.
The final argument for drafting a young quarterback is the depth of this year’s draft. Coming out this year are some very talented quarterbacks, including Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. As much as they’ve missed on drafting quarterbacks, they’re finally in a position where their gamble is most likely going to pay off. Christian Hackenberg was a stretch in the second round and Bryce Petty wasn’t highly touted. These three guys are, and gambling on one of them could be worth it.
Kirk Cousins is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL, without even trying to be. He just wants to get paid and play where he feels wanted. New York is that place, and the Jets are that team. It’s all a matter of who wants it more.