New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine stated Saturday that the team faces too much potential scrutiny from the media to undergo a drastic rebuild and currently has the talent in-house to be competitive next season.
With due apologies to the veteran cornerback, there’s plenty of evidence that suggests otherwise.
Here are three steps the Jets can take to accelerate their rebuilding process:
Make a definitive decision at quarterback
The Jets’ ongoing quarterback carousel is one of the NFL’s most reliable punchlines, with the organization seemingly undecided among Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg, with Hackenburg being deemed nowhere close to ready. Figuring out this conundrum is the Jets’ top priority, and no real progress can be made until a definitive decision is made.
New York could use the No. 6 pick in the upcoming NFL draft to address this problem, but this year’s class lacks a true standout quarterback, so selecting one in the early first round would be a waste of draft capital. The Jets invested a second-round pick on Hackenberg last spring, a fourth-round pick on Petty in 2015, and McCown is merely there biding his time until the team finds a genuine franchise-caliber option.
If the Jets decide to ride with McCown for the 2017 season and wait until next year’s draft to get their quarterback of the future, it represents a tenable strategy. It’s time to rip the bandage off and figure out the team’s most important position in order to accelerate some modicum of progress.
Attempt to trade down in the draft
Quarterback isn’t the only position where the Jets desperately need an upgrade, and accumulating the most draft capital possible should be general manager Mike Maccagnan’s end goal. If the Jets believe that they won’t find their eventual franchise quarterback with the No. 6 pick, they should move down the board in order to secure more selections throughout the draft, addressing myriad other needs in lieu of their primary one.
It’s a confounding position to be in. With no clear-cut option at quarterback on the roster and no surefire starter in this year’s draft class, the Jets may draft an unprepared option to early on, letting numerous marquee talents at other positions pass them by. If the Jets can trade their top pick, it’s eminently possible they can get a young quarterback and address other team needs in the process.
Trade Sheldon Richardson
Sheldon Richardson was rumored to be on the trade block for months, and the Jets should try to extract all the value they can get out of the former first-round pick on the open market. Richardson’s $8-million salary would come off the books, and it appears unlikely that he’d ink a long-term extension before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2018. It would be the next logical move for the Jets, who jettisoned veterans Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, and Darrelle Revis among others this offseason.
Richardson is the rare player who can play both defensive end and tackle with equal fluency, and at 26, he’s in the middle of his prime. The Jets boast excellent depth across their defensive line, with fellow first-round picks Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson flourishing. Richardson also seems to be discontent with the Jets, sharing his apparent apathy prior to a December game versus the Dolphins via Snapchat.
If the Jets can accrue any assets in exchange for Richardson, whether in the form of draft picks or a viable starter at any one of their positions of need, Maccagnan should pull the trigger. It’s hard to part ways with a talent like Richardson, but it appears both sides have mutually reached their endpoint.
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