The New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan wasted no time putting his fingerprints all over the roster this offseason. After several big moves, it’s safe to say Maccagnan also has a knack for making a splash.
Considering new regimes are also wild cards when it comes to the NFL draft, things could get very interesting in Chicago next week starting at pick No. 2 when the Tennessee Titans go on the clock. Maccagnan has the opportunity to put an immediate stamp on his team, but no one is quite sure what to expect in his first year running a draft room.
"Since this is my first time as a general manager, I don't really have a track record yet,” Maccagnan said Friday. “I think philosophically I like the idea of personally getting more picks because to me, more picks are more opportunities to find players.”
Maccagnan knows he can stay at No. 6 or trade back and acquire more picks to jump-start the rebuilding process. In a perfect world, he’d be able to move back, get more picks and still get the players he wants. The scout in him knows it’s the typically the best way to build a team.
“It’s almost like a portfolio,” he said. “Do you pick one stock you think is going to get the big return or do you pick three stocks, which may not actually hit the same ceiling but the overall value of it actually gets a higher yield.”
Maccagnan also knows that the yield potential of a franchise quarterback is enormous, but the cost of the trade is a key differentiating factor. If he’s giving up an enormous amount to move up, it offsets the possible return.
Still, of all the teams that can move up and get Oregon product Marcus Mariota, it would be the least costly for the Jets at No. 6. Unless Washington at No. 5 makes a move, the Jets draft the earliest of all the teams needing a quarterback. The Titans wouldn’t have to slide way down the board, which could keep the cost of the trade more reasonable.
Maccagnan is leaving open the possibility that he could move up in the draft to get Mariota if the price is right, via NFL.com.
We're going to reach out to every team ahead of us and gauge the value of what they're looking for in compensation to move up in the draft. That doesn't mean we're actually trying to go up necessarily and get a player but you hear what the market value is basically, and then what you do is see what unfolds with the first few picks and who is available. We'll have that discussion when we get to the draft -- if we want to move up in the draft.
Maccagnan also said he distributed the team’s trade value chart to the other 31 teams. When taken together, it’s clear the Jets have greased the skids on a possible trade up. It’s hard to imagine the Jets moving up if not for Mariota—and gauging the market is a clear sign they like him—it’s just about the cost involved at this point.
As far as fit, it couldn't be better for the Jets. Mariota would be a great fit for offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s offense, who really doesn’t have an offense at all. He got 21 touchdowns from quarterback Tyler Thigpen in 11 starts in 2008. Thigpen also rushed for 386 yards in a zone-read offense that was ahead of its time in the NFL.
Gailey is willing to design his offense around his players—especially his quarterback. Unlike the more rigid offensive mind of Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee, Mariota could play for Gailey right away. If a team is drafting a quarterback that early, he needs to be able to play right away. If a team is trading up to draft a quarterback that early, he has to be able to play right away and he has to be a great fit. He would be in New York.
“Good luck predicting what (Gailey) is going to do with the Jets,” said NFL Network's Gil Brandt, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post. “You might think he’s going to be run-first because of the Steelers or pass-happy because of the Bills, but I bet you he’s looked at a hundred tapes while he’s been out these past two years, knows the trends and will put his own spin on them.”
You can bet Gailey has watched plenty of Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, which has been one of the most productive in the league over the last two years. Kelly recruited Mariota at Oregon and many people think the Eagles are trying to figure out how to move up to get him while discounting the impact of Gailey.
Even if the move proves to be cost prohibitive for the Jets, Maccagnan can still make his mark on the roster. A top wide receiver or pass-rusher would both be welcome additions in New York. If the Jets are going to try to reboot quarterback Geno Smith, it wouldn’t hurt to give him more weapons. Alabama’s Amari Cooper would be a good complement to Brandon Marshall, who the team acquired for the Chicago Bears this offseason.
A pass-rusher would complete a defense that already includes a great secondary and superb interior. Maccagnan can really make the offseason additions of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine look good by adding speed around the edge. A player like Clemson’s Vic Beasley would be an ideal fit.
Whatever Maccagnan decides to do, he has a chance to leave a lasting mark on his roster. If he does make a move for Mariota, it’s possible he’d get a second chance to draft a quarterback even if it doesn’t work out. If he doesn’t make the move, he’ll probably only get the chance to draft a quarterback once at some date in the future.
Sometimes the way to get a higher yield is knowing when to push all the chips into the center of the table. Knowing when to invest can be just as, if not more important than the investments themselves.