(Long Island, NY) When the Jets acquired Brett Favre from the Green Bay Packers last August, they thought that the future Hall of Famer was going to be the answer to their quarterback question, one that really did not exist. Little did they know it at the time, but then-incumbent Chad Pennington would look awfully good in Kelley green right now instead of Miami teal and orange.
Having the 39-year-old Favre retire after one sub par season could not have been what team owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum envisioned when they introduced number four to the masses amongst back slaps and wide grins. Although there were no guarantees that he was going to play more than 16 games, the Jets hierarchy hoped that Favre’s tenure would have lasted more than that, albeit it through playoff games or this coming season.
Johnson and Tannenbaum even publicly campaigned for Favre to return prior to hiring new head coach Rex Ryan. They left themselves no margin for error as far as a back-up plan went. The three other quarterbacks on the roster have a total of eight NFL starts between them – all by former second round draft choice Kellen Clemens during the 2007 season.
The other two, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge, may be decent prospects but the team cannot expect much out of a pair of youngsters with zero professional experience besides meaningless preseason games.
That leaves three choices to upgrade the most important position on the field. As far as free agency goes, the pickings are slim and a stopgap, at best. Names such as Byron Leftwich, Rex Grossman, Jeff Garcia or Kyle Boller are not exactly the type that makes fans begin to book their hotel rooms for February in Miami, the location for Super Bowl XLIV.
In the upcoming NFL Draft, Matt Stafford out of Georgia is the consensus top signal caller going pro, but with the 0-16 Detroit Lions holding the first pick, figure on the former Bulldog to become their franchise quarterback. After that, not many teams are in the hunt for that position. The Jets can either stay put at number 17 and hope that the mock drafts are accurate or trade up to ensure that they can obtain a high caliber player.
Mark Sanchez, the USC junior, declared for the draft even though his head coach Pete Carroll advised him not to. The young southpaw must have looked at the board and realized that he can be either the first or second quarterback selected and cash in a big payday.
A perfect scenario for the Jets would be to have Sanchez fall to them, but in the event that a team like the St. Louis Rams (number two) or San Francisco 49ers (number 10) decide to take a quarterback, he will be long gone.
One thing that happens frequently on draft day is wheeling and dealing. One established quarterback who may be available is none other than Jay Cutler, who was drafted 11th overall by the Denver Broncos in 2006. Once viewed as the Broncos next John Elway, he has recently fallen out of favor with the new head coach. Josh McDaniels has taken over for the fired Mike Shanahan and the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots was interested in obtaining Matt Cassel, who led that Pats to an 11-5 record after taking over for an injured Tom Brady in Week 1. A potential three-way trade between Denver, New England and Tampa Bay was discussed before Cassel was eventually dealt to Kansas City.
The negotiations eventually became publicized and Cutler – already known as a moody person – apparently became upset that his team was looking to deal him and acquire a new quarterback after he has thrown for more than 20 touchdowns in each of his two seasons as a starter. Bad feelings were in the air and according to a report by ESPN, a conference call on Monday that was meant to clear the air made the situation go from “bad to worse.”
“The conference call was anything but genial and the two sides are now further apart than prior to it,” the report stated.
Although Broncos management is saying that he won’t be traded, it may be better for both sides if Cutler is moved. Denver will then need to replace him, so either a real high draft choice or another young and effective starter must be involved. The Jets can offer neither but must look into the possibilities. Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel went to the Chiefs in exchange for only a second round pick.
Would Denver be interested in a package of first and third round picks and Clemens? If that would ever come to pass, it would be considered a steal. Tannenbaum may have to sweeten the pot by dangling cornerback Darrelle Revis, who would be difficult to part with but may be necessary to obtain a young player that can lead your team for the next decade.
Sort of like when the Jets drafted Pennington in the first round back in 2000.