I was recently on the “Let’s Talk Jets” International podcast, when Mr. Tyson Rauch tripped me up when he asked me about the New York Jets quarterback situation. I honestly had no clue as to what I think the Jets should do there and how much it would cost.
Currently, the Jets have ~$33m in cap room according to overthecap.com and they could get to get to as much as $56m if they cut Eric Decker, Gilchrist & Harris, and traded Sheldon Richardson.
QB is one of the most pressing, if not the most pressing needs the Jets have, so how much would it cost to fill it in free agency? Some of this has been given a little more spice by reports that Mike Glennon could fetch $15m per year if not Brock Osweiler money.
So, the questions are, what is ‘fair market value ’? Then, who are the options and how much will they cost?
When I say ‘fair’, I think most realize Glennon getting $15m is too much, but I am going to talk about what the market dictates and what others have gotten in similar situations. To do this, it is necessary to understand the different tiers of quarterback compensation. There are a few ways to do this, but this what I am basing it on…
Unquestioned starter – Transcendent
Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady
Unquestioned starter – Ring of Honor / Hall of Fame type
Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan
Unquestioned starter – Solid but unspectacular
Ryan Tannehill, Tony Romo, Matt Stafford, San Bradford, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton
Unquestioned starter – question marks
Jay Cutler, Brock Osweiler, Tyrod Taylor
Competing to start
Robert Griffin, Josh McCown (before release), Case Keenum (2016)
Chase Daniel, Nick Foles, Chad Henne, Drew Stanton, Shaun Hill, Matt Cassell, Colt McCoy, Brian Hoyer, Matt Moore, Matt Schaub, Scott Tolzien, Luke McCown
Third string / camp body
Each of these different tiers of QBs come with different prices attached to them. For the purposes of this, I am ignoring those on rookie contracts (Winston, Mariota, Carr et al) and Kirk Cousins (whose situation is unique).
When you look at the contracts for each of these tiers, here is how it breaks out in terms of average yearly salary and what would be known as ‘market rate’…
1)Unquestioned starter – Transcendent = $22.8m
2)Unquestioned starter – Ring of Honor / Hall of Fame type = $21.3m
3)Unquestioned starter – Solid but unspectacular = $17.6m (Skewed downward by older contracts for Matt Stafford, Andy Dalton & Alex Smith)
4)Unquestioned starter – question marks = $18m
5)Competing to start = $5.3m
6)Back up = $3.2m
7)Third string / camp body – veterans minimum to $2m
When you are signing a Free Agent quarterback a lot of what will determine the cost you can expect to pay will be the situation the player is walking into and the expectations for that player that season. For instance, Brock Osweiler last year walked into the Texans job as the unquestioned starter, so he was paid $18m. Bradford’s extension – he was expected to be a solid starter, so his $17.5m per year deal was market rate. RGIII, not an unquestioned starter, $7.5m.
Now applying this to this year’s Free Agent crop of QBs, which tier do I think each will fit in?
Unquestioned starter – Solid = $17.6m
Tony Romo (if not traded)
Unquestioned starter – question marks = $18m
Mike Glennon, Tyrod Taylor (if released)
Competing to start = $5.3m
Colin Kaepernick, Brian Hoyer, Geno Smith,
Back up = $3.2m
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Case Keenum, Shaun Hill, Matthew McGloin, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez, Matt Chaub, Ryan Mallett, Kellen Clemens, TJ Yates, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones
Third string / camp body – veterans minimum to $2m
Looking at this, if the Jets are to go after Glennon or Tyrod, they will expect to be unquestioned starters and as such be paid like that, therefore, while their talent and ability to start is in question, if they are brought into start, they WILL be paid like it, getting close to $18m a year.
Therefore, the question is what should the Jets do?
My personal opinion is that we are in a rebuilding phase. To pay ANY player currently around $18m a year would be ridiculous and potentially hamstringing the franchise; setting up expectations for that player that they cannot possibly meet. The result will be disappointment, lost jobs and us being right back where we are now in 2019…
For me, there is no easy solution. We either go into the draft for the umpteenth and / or we sign someone in the ‘competing to start’ market.
For me, signing Kaepernick would bring the circus back to town (if it ever left) and would be a distraction for the franchise, no matter what you think of him and his actions last year. It would just be the wrong fit.
The best Free Agent options for me would be Brian Hoyer or re-signing Geno (he says waiting for the inevitable projectiles coming my way). Both would not have the expectation of starting and, while limited, could provide value for the money you would spend. You would only spend $5-8m per year, which gives you scope to fill out the rest of the roster.
Cap numbers provided by www.overthecap.com