Posted on June 7, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The New York Jets have made quite a few interesting moves this off-season. For the most part, they appear to be cost cutting maneuvers. But if you look at them in their totality, they seem to be something else entirely. It looks like the Jets are already looking towards the 2018-quarterback rich draft.
These guys are tanking.
What? No! No NFL team would ever look to tank before the season ever starts. That’s ridiculous! But when you take a look at the moves they have made and the one they didn’t, the notion isn’t so far-fetched.
They are just taking a page out of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s playbook.
Cuban admitted his team tried to tank after they were eliminated from playoff contention while making an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show:
“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything we could to lose games,” Cuban said.
How they did it was really quite genius. If Cuban hadn’t said anything, no one would have known. He didn’t tell anyone to throw any games or anything crazy like that—they just played their young guys. You know, to see what they could do (wink wink).
Young players are going to do what young players do—play their hearts out. But young players often make a lot of mistakes too; it’s part of the learning process. Those mistakes are what Cuban counted on so his team could lose games and improve its chances in the draft lottery.
With the moves that the Jets have made, it appears that they are trying to do the same thing. By releasing many of the talented veterans they had, the Jets are going to have no choice but to play their youngsters.
The list of veterans they have released (or will soon) is rather long:
- David Harris, LB: released on Tuesday despite being a durable, productive player his entire career with the Jets; second leading tackler in Jets history.
- Eric Decker, WR: he is expected to be cut unless they can find a trade partner. But since their intention to cut him has been public, no one will bother trading for him when they can get for free once he becomes a free agent.
- Brandon Marshall, WR: he had a great year his first season in New York, but a not-so-great one last season making him expendable at his salary ($7.5 million).
- Darrelle Revis, DB: he did not play well last season and was due to make a base salary of $13 million and receive a roster bonus of $2 million had he been on the roster March 11. He just wasn’t worth the price tag anymore.
- Nick Mangold, OL: he’s 33 and saved the team over $9 million in cap room.
- Calvin Pryor, S: being a disgruntled underperformer made it easy to trade him away. But for a guy they drafted in the first round in 2014, they get a guy they drafted in the third round in 2012?
The Jets will likely end up starting a linebacker they didn’t feel like keeping after they drafted him. Their top two receivers have all of 100 career receptions between them (Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson). They will probably look to have one of the two cornerbacks they drafted in the sixth-round start. Their first and second round picks will see plenty of playing time too (both safeties). Whoever replaces Nick Mangold will not be as good as him.
The Jets are saying all the right things. They insist that they feel they have a competitive roster and that they are not tanking:
“That’s not something we’re focused on,” General Manager Mike Maccagnan said. “We’re focused on making decisions that will help this team going forward.”
It’s not like anyone expected them to admit but their actions speak for themselves. Yes, the players they dumped are not spring chickens and their combined salaries would have been over $40 million. You can’t fault them for ditching a bunch of old guys and saving the team a ton of cap space.
But you can if they don’t replace the talent with comparable talent—and they didn’t.
Don’t be surprised if instead of the traditional ‘J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!’ chant this year we hear ‘T-A-N-K! Tank! Tank! Tank!’