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Three offensive lineups the Jets could build around three potiential QB


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The Jets officially announced the hiring of Robert Saleh on Tuesday. On Thursday, they’ll hold his introductory press conference. Among the first questions to be asked: What the heck do you plan on doing at quarterback?

As it currently stands, the Jets seem to have two obvious options with a third wild card. They can bring Sam Darnold back for Year 4. They can start the rookie clock again with Justin Fields or Zach Wilson. Or they can make a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson.

Each move has its pros along with cons. There’s no clear-cut right answer, nor a sign of where the Jets are leaning. That’s why Saleh’s comments on Thursday will be so important. Sure, he could pull a Kliff Kingsbury, but that doesn’t really seem to be his style.

So, with nothing but informed speculation until then, we figured to take a look at what the Jets could look like depending on what Saleh and Joe Douglas choose to do.

Here’s the breakdown.


Option 1: Run it back
Quarterback
: Sam Darnold
Running back: Marlon Mack (free-agent signing), LaMical Perine, Ty Johnson
Receivers: Allen Robinson (free-agent signing), Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder
Tight end: Chris Herndon, Trey Burton (free agent signing)
Offensive line: LT Mekhi Becton, LG Joe Thuney (free-agent signing), C Connor McGovern, RG Wyatt Davis (NFL Draft, second round), RT Penei Sewell (NFL Draft, No. 2)

Break it down: Douglas promised Darnold’s parents he’d do everything to protect their son. That hasn’t happened through two years, but if the Jets decide to keep Darnold, you can expect a major change this offseason after the GM admitted he didn’t do enough in 2020. With nearly $90 million in cap space and a truckload of draft picks, Douglas can build an environment conducive to Darnold’s success.

If the Jets keep Darnold, they can go with the best player available at No. 2. Receivers Ja’Marr Chase (LSU) and Devonta Smith (Alabama) might be the play if Robinson signs elsewhere in free agency. Linebacker Micah Parsons (Penn State), along with corners Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech) and Patrick Surtain (Alabama), could fill needs, too. It’s just too hard to see Douglas, assuming he does not trade back, passing on Sewell.

Sewell and Becton could develop into the NFL’s best tackle duo. Because the Jets desperately need help on defense, it’s hard to see them using the No. 23 pick on an offensive player, but their first second-rounder can address the interior offensive line. Davis, out of Ohio State, could fall.

Side note: Drafting Sewell and Davis can allow the Jets to cut George Fant and Greg Van Roten, which would free another $10.8 million.

Robinson and Thuney are two top-ticket free agents and will certainly be on Douglas’ wish list. Obviously, the Jets won’t be alone, but their odds of signing both are a bit higher considering the number of teams in salary cap turmoil. Just 17 teams have more than $5 million in cap space. Just 11 have more than $20 million. The Colts, Jets, and Jaguars are the only teams with $60-million plus.

Robinson’s pristine route running, next-level hands and otherworldly catch radius make him a quarterback’s best friend. Thuney is versatile, reliable and productive — tailor-made for Douglas. Both are under 28.

The Jets seem to like ex-Colts, and Mack would be a nice, reasonably-priced addition to the backfield. He suffered a season-ending Achilles injury this year, which might scare some teams off. He’s been productive when healthy, rushing for 1,999 yards (4.5 average) and 17 touchdowns from 2018-2019.

The Jets aren’t willing to give up on Herndon yet, but Burton would be a solid and inexpensive insurance policy. He’s a good receiving option, has Colts ties, and Douglas worked with him during his time in Philadelphia (the Philly Special thrower).


Option 2: Make the trade
Quarterback
: Deshaun Watson (trade with Texans)
Running back: LaMical Perine, Jerick McKinnon (free agent signing), Ty Johnson
Receivers: Allen Robinson (free agent signing), Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder
Tight end: Chris Herndon, Trey Burton (free agent signing)
Offensive line: LT Mekhi Becton, LG Joe Thuney (free agent signing), C Connor McGovern, RG Greg Van Roten, RT George Fant

Break it down: While Watson would count just under $11 million on the 2021 cap, adding him would likely result in a slightly more conservative approach because of the upcoming $30 million hits. Robinson and Thuney are still options. Adding Watson puts the Jets in win-now mode and they need to expedite their rebuild. They might have to look toward someone like McKinnon at running back, though.

The Jets weren’t happy with Van Roten this past season, but trading for Watson means giving up quite a few first-round picks. If Douglas parts with both No. 2 and 23, they need to go defense with their first second-rounder. That likely means waiting until the third to address the interior offensive line. LSU’s Ed Ingram should be there. He’ll start if ready Week 1. If not, Van Roten gets the nod. Cameron Clark could be in the mix, too.

Obviously, this would mean another year with George Fant at right tackle. Not the worst thing. He wasn’t great, but solid in 2020.


Option 3: Start from scratch
Quarterback
: Justin Fields/Zach Wilson (NFL Draft, No. 2)
Running back: Marlon Mack (free agent signing), LaMical Perine, Ty Johnson
Receivers: Corey Davis (free agent signing), Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, Curtis Samuel (free agent signing)
Tight end: Jonnu Smith (free agent signing), Chris Herndon
Offensive line: LT Mekhi Becton, LG Joe Thuney (free agent signing), C Connor McGovern, RG Wyatt Davis (NFL Draft, second round), RT George Fant

Break it down: There’s a legitimate drop between Trevor Lawrence and Fields or Wilson. If Douglas views the two equally, he might be able to trade back to No. 4 (Falcons pick), get whoever doesn’t go No. 2, and recoup another first-round pick and then some. For this example, though, we’ll assume he drafts one of the two at No. 2.

Douglas will not make the same mistake he did with Darnold. He’ll use his draft picks and cap space to help make the quarterback’s life easy. By drafting Wilson or Fields, it allows the Jets to trade Darnold for potentially another second- or third-round pick.

Robinson, Thuney, Mack and Burton are all still priority free-agent signings. For this example, we’ll say Robinson prefers to sign with a more established quarterback. If that happens, Douglas can pivot toward Davis. He caught 65 passes for a career-high 985 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games with the Titans in 2020. The money not spent on Robinson and the luxury of a rookie quarterback on a rookie contract can be used to make runs at other free agents like Samuel (Panthers) and Smith (Titans).

Davis is still the pick with the Jets’ first second-rounder. If they get a second for Darnold, they could look at Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg. If they get a third, Stanford’s Walker Little is a possibility. Either of the two could compete for the starting job in training camp with Fant.

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I'm going option 1 every time!  That offensive line intrigues me so much and could be in the image of the Cowboys offensive line of the 90's. I would draft RB Gainwell out of Memphis in the 3rd round.  I don't see any reason why Sam can't become the player we expect behind that O Line and throwing to those receivers.  I get it, 3 of the other QBs selected in that class went to the playoffs.  Those players had teams built around them. Its time to do that for Sam

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11 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

If they run it back with Darnold, it’s hard to see why Robinson or Thuney would sign here. 

They won't be without a viable Plan 1A at QB, even if they do try to resuscitate Darnold, first. If they go that route, they'll do everything they can to trade back and add more picks this year, next, and maybe after that. Heading into the 2022 draft with three firsts and another two in 2023 would give them plenty of ammo to target a QB. 

Joe Douglas came here with nothing in place. Robert Saleh came because he believes in JD and what he's trying to build. I think the two of them can probably entice just about any free agent to be a part of that vision. 

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12 minutes ago, slats said:

I think the two of them can probably entice just about any free agent to be a part of that vision. 

I don’t agree with this conclusion at all, but I think the first part of your post is spot on—they can keep Darnold, trade back, and conscript a pack of dudes to gamble Year One of their careers on Darnold improving. Otherwise, outside of being massive overpays, what would be the incentive for guys like Robinson and Thuney to burn a year of their careers on Darnold? Because Saleh is popular? 
 

Note: I think the Darnold option is the most likely, if most conservative, but the big feature of it is that it likely results in more draft picks via trade down. 

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1 minute ago, T0mShane said:

I don’t agree with this conclusion at all, but I think the first part of your post is spot on—they can keep Darnold, trade back, and conscript a pack of dudes to gamble Year One of their careers on Darnold improving. Otherwise, outside of being massive overpays, what would be the incentive for guys like Robinson and Thuney to burn a year of their careers on Darnold? Because Saleh is popular? 
 

Note: I think the Darnold option is the most likely, if most conservative, but the big feature of it is that it likely results in more draft picks via trade down. 

I also think it's the most likely scenario, and I think they'll be able to sell it. Like I said, they'll have a second QB on the roster who they'll trust to handle starting duties should Darnold struggle yet again. Not Ryan Fitzpatrick, but a guy like like that. They won't let Sam drag down the whole thing, even if they sorta, maybe, kinda believe in him. 

Just as we as fans can look at all the cap space and draft picks and the people making those decisions, players look at that, too. They see programs get turned around quickly all the time. It seems like the Jets aren't the black hole they once were after landing top guys at GM and HC. Robert Saleh, when talking about interviewing with the Jets, discussed the, "perception of the franchise around the league," and for you to, "throw that out." I don't expect the Jets to go after -let alone sign- every top free agent, but I think they'll be able to effectively make their case to the guys that they do target. 

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10 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

I don’t agree with this conclusion at all, but I think the first part of your post is spot on—they can keep Darnold, trade back, and conscript a pack of dudes to gamble Year One of their careers on Darnold improving. Otherwise, outside of being massive overpays, what would be the incentive for guys like Robinson and Thuney to burn a year of their careers on Darnold? Because Saleh is popular? 
 

Note: I think the Darnold option is the most likely, if most conservative, but the big feature of it is that it likely results in more draft picks via trade down. 

In this scenario i think douglas and saleh will quickly see that the priority offensive FAs will not sign here.  And that’s too bad b/c the scenario makes a lot of sense, they can trade out of 2 and really add a lot of talent to the entire roster.  But you’re probably not getting Robinson or davis if you tell them that darnold is the qb.

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3 minutes ago, slats said:

I also think it's the most likely scenario, and I think they'll be able to sell it. Like I said, they'll have a second QB on the roster who they'll trust to handle starting duties should Darnold struggle yet again. Not Ryan Fitzpatrick, but a guy like like that. They won't let Sam drag down the whole thing, even if they sorta, maybe, kinda believe in him. 

Just as we as fans can look at all the cap space and draft picks and the people making those decisions, players look at that, too. They see programs get turned around quickly all the time. It seems like the Jets aren't the black hole they once were after landing top guys at GM and HC. Robert Saleh, when talking about interviewing with the Jets, discussed the, "perception of the franchise around the league," and for you to, "throw that out." I don't expect the Jets to go after -let alone sign- every top free agent, but I think they'll be able to effectively make their case to the guys that they do target. 

Receivers see what their stats will be, whether they will hit contract triggers and how relevant their teams will be if they care about playoffs. 

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The Jets are not going to invest in a FA RB unless they come in at a significant discount. One of the terrific things about the Shanahan system is there are a LOT of guys with the traits to do well (one-cut backs) and historically it's found success with low-investment backs (the Denver RB factory in the 90s, Arian Foster, Davonta Freeman, Mostert, Breida, Wilson, etc. - none of those guys were taken before the 4th round). Anyone still dreaming of Najee Harris or Travis Etienne needs to get used to disappointment, and the odds that we sign even a middling-expensive FA like Mack are very low

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8 minutes ago, Augustiniak said:

Receivers see what their stats will be, whether they will hit contract triggers and how relevant their teams will be if they care about playoffs. 

I hear you. We'll see. Thuney might be an easier sell than Robinson. I get that. 

But I suspect that JD and RS are the kinds of guys who can sell players on the team being improved and competitive in 2021, and looking playoffs by 2022, especially if they'd be kind enough to accept this large bundle of cash they're offering. 

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3 minutes ago, slats said:

I hear you. We'll see. Thuney might be an easier sell than Robinson. I get that. 

But I suspect that JD and RS are the kinds of guys who can sell players on the team being improved and competitive in 2021, and looking playoffs by 2022, especially if they'd be kind enough to accept this large bundle of cash they're offering. 

They’re definitely an upgrade over bringing in guys to meet mccagnan and Todd bowles and Adam gase.  But for wrs in particular, their value/stats/perception is so dependent on the qb, that darnold really becomes a difficult sell to these good wrs.  Corey davis had a rejunivated tannehill make the playoffs 2x and maybe all star last year.  With so many teams pursuing him, including probably the titans, why would he sign here to be married to darnold?

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8 minutes ago, Augustiniak said:

They’re definitely an upgrade over bringing in guys to meet mccagnan and Todd bowles and Adam gase.  But for wrs in particular, their value/stats/perception is so dependent on the qb, that darnold really becomes a difficult sell to these good wrs.  Corey davis had a rejunivated tannehill make the playoffs 2x and maybe all star last year.  With so many teams pursuing him, including probably the titans, why would he sign here to be married to darnold?

Like I said, I hear you. They'll address the position in free agency and, if it's not to their satisfaction, they'll take a WR early in the draft. 

But the Jets landed their top candidates at GM and HC now in back-to-back years. Saleh interviewed with every team that had an opening - except the Texans, and Deshaun Watson wants out of there somewhat because they didn't! I think the head coach matters a lot to players. 

It's not something to go back and forth about much. It's just my opinion. But I think the ****ty reputation of this organization is starting to fade away a bit. Should a top WR sign here, I think they'll understand that if Darnold doesn't work out (if that's the route they take) that they'll address the QB position aggressively the following year. Signing a free agent like Jameis Winston this year would help. 

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For all the Allen Robinson fans, how exactly does he fit into this offense.

My understanding is that we will be using motion, jet sweeps, crossers, and bubble screens and then work off those concepts to  take shots down the field.  In addition, I look at Mims as a player who hopefully is fast enough to be a WR who can "do it all" but who is likely a true outside WR who will make contested catches, but isnt really going to "stretch the field".  Which happens to be exactly what Allen Robinson is.  So how would those 2 co-exist?

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1 hour ago, T0mShane said:

If they run it back with Darnold, it’s hard to see why Robinson or Thuney would sign here. 

Thuney if the money is right could happen, but no way in hell a top tier receiver coming here to try and  play catch with Darnold this season. 

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8 minutes ago, BCJet said:

For all the Allen Robinson fans, how exactly does he fit into this offense.

My understanding is that we will be using motion, jet sweeps, crossers, and bubble screens and then work off those concepts to  take shots down the field.  In addition, I look at Mims as a player who hopefully is fast enough to be a WR who can "do it all" but who is likely a true outside WR who will make contested catches, but isnt really going to "stretch the field".  Which happens to be exactly what Allen Robinson is.  So how would those 2 co-exist?

I tend to agree

@sec101row23 brought up the idea of Curtis Samuel instead and I could get on board with that.

He really is the perfect fit for this offense and he won’t be looking for $20 million a year like Robinson.

Go out and grab Thuney, Samuel and Hendrickson and then do a bit of bargain shopping leading up to the draft.

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Option 1 for me all day long as well... I do agree with the rest, that option 1 requires a fallback at the QB position, unless Lafleur is impressed with Morgan. Who knows...

Asking this because I'm not all that up on league rules... When can Darnold start working with Lafleur and the QB coach? I believe this is the key to all the offseason discussions about what will happen come FA, and Draft time. Once Lafleur gives his opinion of the situation, then JD and Saleh can start formulating a plan.

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2 hours ago, T0mShane said:

If they run it back with Darnold, it’s hard to see why Robinson or Thuney would sign here. 

https://www.profootballnetwork.com/nfl-draft-free-agency-news-rumors-2021-senior-bowl/

A person in the know would not tell me directly if the Jets would be one of the teams in hot pursuit of Thuney. Rather, he said it will come down to money offered and the contract. The Jets are expected to have a lot of money available under the cap once free agency commences. So, as was implied to me by the source, draw your own conclusions.

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1 hour ago, slats said:

I also think it's the most likely scenario, and I think they'll be able to sell it. Like I said, they'll have a second QB on the roster who they'll trust to handle starting duties should Darnold struggle yet again. Not Ryan Fitzpatrick, but a guy like like that. They won't let Sam drag down the whole thing, even if they sorta, maybe, kinda believe in him. 

Just as we as fans can look at all the cap space and draft picks and the people making those decisions, players look at that, too. They see programs get turned around quickly all the time. It seems like the Jets aren't the black hole they once were after landing top guys at GM and HC. Robert Saleh, when talking about interviewing with the Jets, discussed the, "perception of the franchise around the league," and for you to, "throw that out." I don't expect the Jets to go after -let alone sign- every top free agent, but I think they'll be able to effectively make their case to the guys that they do target. 

Nick Mullens would be a good backup if we keep Darnold

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Just now, Joe W. Namath said:

Marlon mack??????????  we are going to draft a rb with one of our 1st couple picks.

Why?

I fully expect Douglas to continue bolstering the OL and this Shanahan outside zone scheme has been producing quality RB’s by the bundle for 30 years now.

Even if the Jets run it back with Darnold at QB, which I expect will be the case, we still have glaring holes at premium positions like EDGE, CB, WR, etc.

Go sign a cheap young vet like Jamaal Williams, Matt Breida or Marlon Mack to pair with Johnson and Perine and go with the committee approach.

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2 minutes ago, Matt39 said:

Yeah well there’s a franchise tag genius

The problem for Chicago is that they are $10.5M over the cap right now.   Mack, Akiem Hicks and Kyle Fuller account for $58M in 2021.   They have serious issues, I don’t think can afford Robinson at the franchise tag number. 

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2 minutes ago, sec101row23 said:

The problem for Chicago is that they are $10.5M over the cap right now.   Mack, Akiem Hicks and Kyle Fuller account for $58M in 2021.   They have serious issues, I don’t think can afford Robinson at the franchise tag number. 

Everything is workable. If they want to keep the player they will. I doubt he ends up leaving. Same with Godwin in Tampa.

Expecting to pick up WR 1’s in FA is a pipe dream. 

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2 hours ago, T0mShane said:

If they run it back with Darnold, it’s hard to see why Robinson or Thuney would sign here. 

Fans gonna Fan.

Far too many people just presume we're going to land BOTH Robinson and Thuney, as if there was no market or competition for those dudes services, lol.

Wanting them, I certainly get.  But I'd hold off penciling them in for opening day (regardless of who our QB is) if I were you all, as the odds say we get neither, not both.

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Id rather they sign Corey Linsley than Thuney.  Move McGovern to guard.  
 

I also don’t think the jets have a chance with Robinson unless they get Watson.  He has been dealing with crap at QB his entire career.  He is going to have plenty of options. Why would he go to another young or iffy situation at qb?

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2 minutes ago, Matt39 said:

Everything is workable. If they want to keep the player they will. I doubt he ends up leaving. Same with Godwin in Tampa.

Expecting to pick up WR 1’s in FA is a pipe dream. 

He’ll be cheaper if they sign him long term, but that would require Robinson to WANT to sign there.  If that’s the case I’m sure he’ll make the rounds and see what his demand is.  Tampa won’t lose Godwin, they have some money and if they want to keep him they easily can.  Personally I’m not chasing Robinson, I don’t think he’s vital to this rebuild.  

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10 minutes ago, TheNuuFaaolaExperience said:

Coach Saleh is going to attract players that may not have wanted to come to NY. People LOVE this guy.

Yeah, but both players are around 28 years old. These are their prime years.  Do they really want to go to a rebuild?  

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Regardless of the scenarios the oline and skill position players will be seriously upgraded.  There is nothing like and oline and a solid run game that will make a QBs life really easy.  As for which way to go at QBs? Hard to say.  That’s why Douglas gets all the big bucks.

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