The New York Jets swung a trade for veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall on Friday that suddenly gives the Gang Green a formidable group of wide receivers. The team is, however, expected to trade or release Percy Harvin, who was acquired last season in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, as soon as Marshall passes a physical. Even without Harvin on the roster, the Jets will have a dynamic trio of wide receivers with Marshall and 2014 free agent addition Eric Decker on the outside, and Jeremy Kerley working out of the slot. Combine them with emerging tight end Jace Amaro, and the Jets have a group of pass catchers that would make most quarterbacks salivate.
Having a talented group of receivers is never a bad thing. Yet, when you don’t have a capable passer to get them the ball, it is essentially a useless way to spend big money. With that being said, the number one problem in New York continues to center around the quarterback position. In fact, had Rex Ryan ever had any kind of success finding a franchise quarterback, he would still likely be the Jets’ head coach.
The Jets are practically starting over at the position in 2015. The Michael Vick experiment is officially over, and Geno Smith continued to look like a bust in 2014, his second professional season. The only other quarterback currently on the Jets’ roster is 26-year-old Matt Simms, who appears to be better suited for a role as a backup quarterback in the NFL. With only two quarterbacks under contract, the Jets will undoubtedly be looking to add at least two more bodies at the position through free agency and the NFL Draft. Given that those two quarterbacks are Geno Smith and Matt Simms, the Jets are clearly in the market for a starting-caliber signal caller.
The Jets have multiple avenues available to them to find their starting quarterback for the 2015 season. They can turn to the NFL Draft, make a trade, or sign a veteran free agent. While they will likely add a quarterback to their roster through more than one avenue, they will surely only invest heavily in one quarterback this offseason. Luckily for new head coach Todd Bowles, the Jets have the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and there are multiple quarterbacks on the free agency market who would be improvements over their current signal callers, so the team will have options.
If the Jets choose to address the position through the Draft, the clear-cut top two prospects are Jameis Winston out of Florida State, and Marcus Mariota out of Oregon. After that, there is a serious drop off in both talent and potential with the rest of the 2015 class of quarterback prospects. As of now, all signs are pointing toward the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Winston with the first overall pick, meaning the Jets would have to decide whether or not they think Mariota can be their franchise quarterback – assuming he doesn’t come off the board before the sixth pick.
The more likely scenario for the Jets is that they choose to find their 2015 starting quarterback through a trade or through free agency. One of the more widely discussed trade scenarios that have surfaced revolves around the team acquiring Nick Foles from the Philadelphia Eagles as part of a package in which the Mariota winds up with Chip Kelly, his former college coach, in Philadelphia. Other trade targets could include Brock Osweiler of the Denver Broncos, Mike Glennon of the Buccaneers, and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears.
The best available free agent quarterback in 2015 is former Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer. The 29-year-old quarterback played well enough at times in 2014 to be considered as a long-term option in Cleveland, but both sides now seem to be set on parting ways. Additionally, Hoyer, along with nearly every other free agent signal caller on the market, will undoubtedly be enamored with the idea of having the Jets’ receiving core at his disposal. If new general manager Mike Maccagnan misses on Hoyer, other players he could target include Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett.
The new coaching and personnel regime for the New York Jets has started the 2015 offseason with a bang. Landing a player of Brandon Marshall’s caliber for only a fifth round draft choice, was a steal, and with a top 10 pick in addition to $45.9 million in salary cap space, the Jets will likely look like a completely different team in 2015. Having said that, the key to their offseason is continues to be finding a capable starting quarterback. Otherwise the blockbuster trade that netted them Brandon Marshall is going to seem inconsequential.