Are the Jets Looking Ahead to 2013?
Something doesn't feel right about this offseason. The Jets never had much cap space to play with, but how they used it was odd to say the least. It makes me think that, at least on some level, the Jets are looking at 2013 as their year to compete.
They made no long-term commitments, only making low-impact signings meant to plug holes rather than actually fixing them. The biggest need was safety, but rather than pouncing on Reggie Nelson they took one-year flyers on LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell.
If the Jets were planning on competing this year, why spend two of their top three draft picks on projects? Stephen Hill has incredible potential, but it's rare for any rookie receiver to make a serious impact, much less one who needs to adjust to an entirely new system.
The same can be said about Demario Davis. He has a ton of talent, but how will he be used as a rookie? His natural position is inside linebacker, but the Jets are set there for 2012. He could be used as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, but that seems counter productive for their long-term goals.
Quinton Coples is a pass-rusher, as the Jets needed, but he's a 3-4 defensive end, not an outside linebacker. With Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike DeVito, it seems as though the Jets are set there.
The common thread here is that the Jets are grooming their rookies to replace veterans in 2013. Hill is set to become the No. 1 receiver as he matures, Davis will replace Bart Scott and Coples (if he doesn't start already) will replace DeVito.
There are also major cap ramifications. Unlike this year, the Jets will be able to cut several high-profile veterans without much consequence, such as Calvin Pace and Bart Scott. Assuming the Jets have cap space, they'll be able to make the long-term investments they didn't this offseason.
And then there's Tim Tebow. We've heard all of the right things so far. He's a great locker room influence and he'll be a dynamic weapon in the Wildcat. But maybe he's more than that. Maybe he's a succession plan.
The Jets can't be particularly happy with Mark Sanchez. He'll have his chance to earn his job, but what if he, as he so often does, fails? Maybe the plan is to use this year to train Tim Tebow to replace him in 2013.
We can't be sure of the motivation for any of Mike Tannenbaum's decisions, and with the talent on board the Jets should be able to fight for a playoff spot no matter what. But if you look at what they've done over the past few months, it screams, "We're waiting for 2013."
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