A look at what's going on around and inside the New York Jets:
1. Help wanted: Veteran quarterback: Another offseason, another quarterback search. This time, the Jets have to step it up. Instead of catering to Geno Smith, acquiring someone to "push" him in a friendly faux competition (see: Michael Vick), they must make a sincere effort to upgrade the position and conduct a legitimate competition. Unfortunately for the Jets, this is the wrong year to be in the quarterback market. Their options don't excite.
They could try free agency, with Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer and Jake Locker among the most likely possibilities. They could try to trade for a young veteran (Mike Glennon) or hope that an older veteran (Ryan Fitzpatrick) shakes loose as a cap casualty. Remember, Fitzpatrick and new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey have worked together. What about a Jay Cutler trade? Even if the Chicago Bears decide to move him, I'd be surprised if the Jets' new regime wanted to hook up with an expensive enigma.
The Jets have an interesting name on their radar, albeit a long shot: Sam Bradford.
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, is under contract to the St. Louis Rams for one more season, but his cap charge ($16.58 million) is exorbitant for a player coming off back-to-back ACL injuries. The Rams reportedly want to renegotiate his $12.985 million salary. If Bradford refuses and gets released, he'd draw interest from quarterback-needy teams turned off by what's available in the draft and free agency.
On Friday, in a news conference to introduce new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, the Rams gave every indication they expect to have Bradford back. Why wouldn't they? He's still the best quarterback on their roster, assuming his twice-repaired knee is healthy. Over his last 23 starts (2012-2013), he threw for 35 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions. After two years of Smith, the Jets would take that in a New York minute. If things go sideways with the financials, and Bradford becomes available, I'd expect the Jets to be interested.
Without a doubt, this is Mike Maccagnan's No. 1 challenge in his first year as GM: improve the quarterback position. I don't think he wants to rely solely on the draft because Jameis Winston probably won't be available and Marcus Mariota could be a project. Good luck, Mike.
2. Oldies, but goodies: I wouldn't read too much into the decision to exercise the options for graybeard outside linebackers Jason Babin and Calvin Pace. Their option bonuses were only $250,000 apiece, meaning this doesn't preclude the Jets from releasing one or both before the start of the season. If anything, maybe it's an indication they're not planning to spend big money in free agency at the position, knowing there are intriguing edge rushers that could be available with the sixth pick in the draft. Basically, Babin and Pace, both 34, are low-cost insurance. Their non-guaranteed base salaries are $1.35 million and $2.125 million, respectively.
3. Thanks, John: John Idzik's parting gift to the Jets was cap space -- lots and lots of cap space. By maintaining a relatively conservative approach, the Jets ended last season with $12.6 million in cap room -- all of which will be carried into the 2015 cap. For the record, it's the fourth-largest carryover in the league. If Idzik hadn't pulled off his "potential coup," as he called the trade for Percy Harvin, the Jets would've had almost a $20 million carryover. (Harvin ate up $7.1 million.) So if you're scoring at home, the Jets have about $51 million in cap space, counting the departure of Chris Johnson, whose option wasn't picked up.
4. Running in place: No, the Jets didn't hit a home run last offseason with the signing of Johnson, but they weren't the only team that fell into that category. Actually, you could argue they fared better than the others. Of the 10 highest-paid running backs in the free-agent class of 2014 (based on guaranteed dollars), the leading rusher was Johnson (663 yards). Second was the Giants' Rashad Jennings (639).
Because of the emphasis on the passing game, running backs have become devalued. I'm really curious to see how the Dallas Cowboy's DeMarco Murray fares in free agency. The shelf life for backs is shorter than other positions, and we're looking at a player -- Murray -- who had more than 400 "touches" in 2014. It was the 42nd time in NFL history in which a player hit the 400 mark. In the previous 41 instances, the players averaged 106 fewer touches and 590 fewer yards.
5. Delegating authority: In his introductory news conference last month, Todd Bowles indicated he's not planning to call the plays on defense. That puts him in the majority. An NFL Nation survey, spearheaded by Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky, reveals that only 10 of the 32 head coaches are expected to call plays in 2015 -- eight on offense, two on defense. The two defensive guys are Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings) and -- you guessed it -- Rex Ryan (Buffalo Bills). The survey was done in response to the news out of Green Bay, where Mike McCarthy announced that he's handing off play-calling duties to right-hand man Tom Clements.
6. Money for nothing: Spending doesn't guarantee winning. In fact, six of the 12 teams that ranked in the top three in free-agent spending since 2011 failed to improve their win total, including all three of last year’s top-3 spending teams -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($147.3 million), Denver Broncos ($127.6 million) and New York Giants ($110.6 million). Those three teams saw their win total decline. How 'bout the champs? The New England Patriots finished 16th in free-agent spending. The more the game changes, the more it stays the game. Success still hinges on drafting and developing talent.
7. A curt deal: No surprise here, but former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Curtis Brown, who signed with the Jets after sitting out last season, received a one-year contract for the minimum salary ($660,000).
8. Stat of the week: Commissioner Roger Goodell made more money last year ($35 million) than the Jets' entire defense ($31.6 million). And the defense, though hardly stellar, had a better year.