Kirk Cousins doesn’t want to play for the New York Jets. After months of breathless speculation, he has decided to take his talents to the Minnesota Vikings, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported. And that’s OK. This will hurt the Jets in 2018 because he was the best available quarterback, but it won’t haunt them for years. Believe me, they will be better off in the long run by not having to pay outrageous money to a less-than-outrageous player.
As long as general manager Mike Maccagnan does his job.
Right now, his job is to secure one of the top four quarterbacks in the draft. By now, you have the names committed to memory: Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen. The Jets must come out of this offseason with a long-term solution. No excuses. This is a rare quarterback market — pro and college — and it would be a stinging indictment if Maccagnan strikes out.
For now, the Jets can re-sign Josh McCown, the proverbial bridge quarterback who galvanized the locker room with his inspired play last season. There’s a good chance they will add another veteran, and the name to watch is Teddy Bridgewater, a high-character player trying to resurrect his career after a devastating knee injury in 2016.
McCown and/or Bridgewater would be a good start — and relatively inexpensive — but the quarterback overhaul wouldn’t be complete without a young heir apparent.
Forget about Christian Hackenberg. Forget about Bryce Petty. It’s time to start a new quarterback pipeline, and that means selecting one of the “Big Four.”
Maccagnan has to start GM’ing. The man with the Hackenberg blemish on his résumé must evaluate these quarterbacks, prioritize them, gauge the market and determine if he can secure one with the sixth pick or whether a trade-up is necessary. It’s a tough assignment, the biggest decision he’ll ever make for this franchise.
This is Maccagnan’s fourth offseason, and the Jets still don’t have a long-term quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick and McCown were good gets in 2015 and 2017, respectively, but journeymen can’t sustain a franchise. You need to hit a home run in the draft, and Maccagnan is 0-for-2 with Hackenberg and Petty.
Can he be trusted to get it right this time? He’d better because his job is riding on it.
His predecessors also failed. Since Joe Namath’s last season with the Jets (1976), they’ve had 30 quarterbacks start at least one game — and only five produced a winning record (minimum 16 starts): Vinny Testaverde (35-26), Mark Sanchez (33-29), Chad Pennington (32-29), Pat Ryan (11-8) and Brett Favre (9-7).
Not one of them won a championship.
That is sad.
Cousins would’ve stabilized the position, but he wouldn’t have made them a championship-caliber team. The timing wasn’t right. Cousins, who will be 30 by the start of the season, is a win-now quarterback. The Jets are a tomorrow team, with too many holes for one player to elevate them to elite status.
“Cousins is an 8-8 quarterback,” a longtime GM said. “That’s why Washington never committed to him. He’s 8-8. If you have stellar defense and a top runner, he can get you to 9-7 or 10-6. You don’t overpay for that. You’d be overpaying for mediocrity. He’s not the answer for the Jets, but a desperate team like the Jets will see something that’s not there.”
The Jets saw something and were willing to buy in. Yeah, they would’ve been the hot story in the NFL if Cousins had accepted, raising the franchise’s exposure, but the glow would’ve faded in time and they would’ve been stuck with cap issues in a couple of years.
Make no mistake, this doesn’t have to be a crushing defeat. That depends, in large part, on where they go from here.