New York Jets: Cassel, Cousins Can Be Had, but Jets Should Stand Pat

Travis WakemanFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 5, 2014

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Reliable NFL quarterbacks are hard to come by, and for those teams in need of one, two names appear to be available.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Kirk Cousins is open to being traded away by the Washington Redskins. On Wednesday,'s Ian Rapoport tweeted that Matt Cassel will void his contract with the Minnesota Vikings in order to test free agency.

#Vikings QB Matt Cassel will void his contract for 2014 and become a free agent, per source. Was to make $3.7M, had until Friday to do it

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 5, 2014

Cousins, who has spent the last two seasons as a backup to Robert Griffin III, has played sporadically in his four NFL starts.

He has eight career touchdown passes, but has thrown 10 interceptions. When Mike Shanahan inexplicably benched Griffin for the final three games of 2013, Cousins was given his chance to audition for other teams.

He completed just over half of his passes on the season while compiling a low 58.4 QB rating. On top of that, Washington lost all three of those games.

The Jets could likely obtain Cousins through a trade involving a low draft pick, but they should save that deal for one of the teams that are desperate for a quarterback.

Cassel played in nine games for the Vikings in 2013 and was definitely the most successful quarterback on their roster. The Jets could show interest based on his veteran experience, but also due to the fact that he spent four seasons with the New England Patriots.

The Jets have a history of bringing in players that spent time in New England and vice versa, but Cassel should not be added to that list. At this point in his career, he's nothing more than a backup.

So how should the Jets approach their quarterback position? By doing nothing.

Geno Smith certainly had a rough season as a rookie. He was basically thrown to the wolves after a preseason injury knocked Mark Sanchez out for the season.

Though he did throw 21 interceptions and only 12 touchdown passes, he also showed flashes of being a solid quarterback at the NFL level.

In Week 5 against Atlanta, Smith put on a great performance in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football. He completed 16 of 20 passes and threw for three touchdowns on the way to a 30-28 victory on the road.

He is also a mobile quarterback who ran for 366 yards and six touchdowns on the season.

So how can the Jets make this work? Look no further than the team that just won the Super Bowl—Seattle.

Russell Wilson has become the perfect quarterback for the Seahawks, fitting in well with the system they have. However, nothing he does is flashy.

If Smith could become the leader that Wilson is, the Jets could begin to build their team the same way.

Rex Ryan has always been a defensive-minded coach who believes in the power running game. When that philosophy works, you don't need your quarterback to put the ball in the air 40 times or throw for 300 yards in a game.

Last season, the Jets ranked third in defending the run, giving up just 88.2 yards per game. However, their pass defense was not up to par. They allowed 246.7 yards per game through the air and only came up with 13 interceptions.

This offseason, building a secondary to complement the run defense needs to be a priority for general manager John Idzik.

If they can build the defense from the outside in, the Jets could become the AFC's version of the Seattle Seahawks.

Does that seem unlikely? The Jets finished the season 8-8, good for second place in the AFC East. That was with an inexperienced Smith at quarterback and very few, if any, offensive threats to help him out.

If the Jets can stop the pass the way they shut down the run and give Smith a couple of playmakers on offense, there is no reason to think this team can't contend.

Let's not forget that Ryan took the team to back-to-back AFC Championship Games not that long ago—with Sanchez at quarterback.

Wilson was very rarely asked to win games for the Seahawks, but he did well with what was asked of him. If the Jets follow this model, Smith can definitely become a similar player.

There will be options out there for the Jets to get a new quarterback, but that isn't the way for them to turn the team into a contender.