The Raiders have completely botched the handling of their best player, Khalil Mack. The 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is holding out, and new coach Jon Gruden – who is making $10 million a year – has done nothing.
It’s to the point where the regular season starts in a week and Mack has had little or not contact with the team. Among the teams that want him most are those that have the assets. Such as the Packers (have two #1 picks in 2019), the Bills (massive cap room in 2019), and the Jets, who have the most cap room for 2019 (by far).
The Jets got a 3rd round pick for Teddy Bridgewater Wednesday, and here’s where it gets interesting, assuming the Raiders don’t want to give their best player more money and rebuild the defense around him… [crickets].
Pro – The Jets could offer the Raiders a 1st and a 3rd in 2019. The Packers have shown no signs of offering two 1st round picks, which is reportedly the Raiders’ asking price. Somebody – a mystery team! – could offer a 1st and 2nd, but nothing of the sort has leaked.
Con – The Jets, if they gave up 1/3 in 2019, would be shut out of the first 80-ish picks of the 2019 draft. They parted with a 2nd round pick to move up to draft Sam Darnold in 2018. If the Raiders demanded the Jets 3rd round pick (not the one from the Saints, which will be lower, as they’re a Super Bowl contender), the Jets wouldn’t draft until late in the 3rd round.
If Jon Gruden is in this for the long haul – the guy got a 10-year deal – and he already has his QB locked up for several years … would he entertain the Jets 3rd round pick in 2020 and the 1st in 2019?
From the Jets point of view, you’re looking at a franchise that has not been to the playoffs since January 2011. They last won a playoff game seven years ago (soon-to-be-eight). You say Jets, you think futility.
Is it rushing too much to trade up for Darnold and then to trade up for Mack in the same calendar year? The window with your franchise QB on a rookie deal lasts four years before you have to pay him, which is why I endorse making a run now.
Building through the draft can work … if you can consistently hit on draft picks the way the Seahawks have. Look at the two years before Seattle got Russell Wilson – they nailed multiple picks after the 1st round. Kam Chancellor turned into a star. Richard Sherman will one day be in the Hall of Fame. Malcolm Smith won a Super Bowl MVP.
The Jets haven’t done that. Here’s where that could be balanced out – the two best teams in the AFC the last few years have QBs who are 41 (Patriots, Tom Brady) and 36 (Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger). If the Jets take baby steps – approach .500 this year, contender for the playoffs in 2019, and then become Super Bowl contenders in 2020, it’s very likely that in year three of the Sam Darnold era, the two dominant teams in the AFC are looking for QBs.
If the Jets want to push all their chips in the middle for Khalil Mack, I’m on board.