The New York Jets ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: After their sixth straight season out of the playoffs, the Jets decided to tear it down and start a long, painful rebuild -- a radical approach. They executed the plan with conviction, stripping the roster of big names and big salaries. They dumped 11 veterans, including future Ring-of-Honor members David Harris, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis. For the most part, they replaced the departed 11 with cheap free agents and unproven young players. Let's be clear: This is a tank job, and it's not hard to understand the motivation. If the Jets land the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, they'll have their pick of what figures to be a strong quarterback class. They also will have $80 million in cap room next year. In the meantime, they'll have one of the worst rosters in the league. If we base a final grade on that, it would be a "D" or worse, but their plan must be evaluated from a big-picture standpoint because this is only phase one of a huge project. Grade: C+.
Move I liked: Let's call it one move and one non-move, and they're tied together. Resisting the urge to reach for a quarterback in the first round, they made the right call by selecting safety Jamal Adams with the sixth overall pick. Quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were available, either of whom would've excited the fan base, but the last thing they needed was another developmental quarterback to join Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. This season should be devoted to finding out if Hackenberg can play. If he surprises them, great. If not, they'll have a high pick and can try to find that ever-elusive franchise quarterback in the draft. Sam Darnold, anyone? As for Adams, he's a terrific player with strong intangibles. In a year, he and Leonard Williams will be the faces of the defense.
Move I didn’t like: Cutting Harris and wide receiver Eric Decker in early June were short-sighted decisions. They saved nearly $14 million in payroll, making owner Woody Johnson happy, but they lost two well-respected veterans who would've helped the young players during the rebuilding process. Harris was the quarterback of the defense, Decker the No. 1 receiver. The moves left a bitter taste in the locker room, sending a clear signal to the players that winning isn't the priority in 2017.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: With the Jets, it's always about the quarterbacks. Technically, it's an open competition between Josh McCown, Hackenberg and Petty. The expectation is that McCown, 37, even with his warts and durability issues, will emerge as the opening-day starter. He can manage a game, and that'll be enough to tilt this tepid competition in his favor. The real question is whether Hackenberg, in his second year, can push McCown. It'll be a successful preseason if Hackenberg plays well, narrows the gap and establishes himself as a viable alternative. Sheldon Richardson's future also will be a hot topic. The Jets have been shopping the defensive tackle since last fall.
Salary-cap space: $24,423,566 (source: Overthecap.com)
2018 draft picks: 1. S Jamal Adams, 2. S Marcus Maye, 3. WR ArDarius Stewart, 4. WR Chad Hansen, 5. TE Jordan Leggett, 5a. OLB Dylan Donahue, 6. RB Elijah McGuire, 6a. CB Jeremy Clark, 6b. CB Derrick Jones.
Unrestricted free agents signed: LT Kelvin Beachum, PK Chandler Catanzaro, CB Morris Claiborne, C Jonotthan Harrison, QB Josh McCown, LB Spencer Paysinger, NT Mike Pennel, S Shamarko Thomas, RB Jordan Todman, S Corey White.
Restricted free agents signed: None.
Players acquired via trade: LB Demario Davis.