Monday, December 12, 2005

Talking Heads: The Jets Fans Speak
By Ben Valentine

So last Friday while the talk around here may have been very soccer-centric, we at Sportszillaalso remembered there were other things going aside from the World Cup draw. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, me and Bryan were able to have a long discussion about the quagmire that is the Jets QB situation for next season; while intently following the World Cup draw. (What can I say, world cup soccer is quite popular around Sportszilla… sue us).

Bryan and I ran through a few things; what the general options were, what we wanted the Jets to do and what he felt the Jets would do. It turned out to be a fairly long conversation, so it’s going to be posted in two parts; one this week and the second part Monday of next week. (For the non Jet fans like Zach, and T-Bone who may feel we are wasting valuable space instead of talking about the Seahawks and Giants. David is free to discuss the Niners QB situation again if he chooses.) So here it is, the first of a two part installment on the Jets QB situation for 2006.

*Note: My expletives at seeing Trinidad’s draw against Sweden and all other WC comments have been removed.

Ben: So you’ve heard Jay Fiedler has to have surgery on his shoulder right?

Bryan: Actually, I hadn't. When was this announced?

Ben: A couple of days ago.

Bryan: Fantastic. Let's just have them operate on Bollinger, too, for the hell of it.

Ben: Well now we know the jets won't be going into next year with Fielder at QB, since there is no way they're going to go into the season with two guys coming off shoulder surgery. So the first question is what are the options for the Jets on the trade market? I know you're a big fan of Brees. But do you see the Chargers trading him and secondly, can the Jets afford the picks and salary he's going to demand?

Bryan: Both fair questions. As you've stated, my absolutely preferred option is making a run at Brees; he has proven over the past two seasons he's capable of starting for a competitive team. I honestly believe he's a second-tier quarterback right now, significantly trailing only guys like Manning and Palmer. And of all the guys we're discussing right now, Brees is probably the most talented one.

What would I trade for Drew Brees? Pretty much anything short of the Jets' first overall pick this season. For example, if the Chargers were to ask for a second-round pick (given the Jets' collapse, nearly a first-rounder) and a middle-round pick, I would do it. This would be acceptable because the Jets don't have an enormous number of holes they need to fill. But the question becomes, would this be enough to satisfy to Chargers?

Ben: Well, it might take a first rounder somewhere along the way to get it done. For example, a third this year and a 1st rounder next year. That’s if the Chargers are willing to deal Brees but that's where we differ. I see it as far more likely they deal Philip Rivers. Yes, they expended a high first rounder on him. But how can you trade away a sure thing just to justify a pick?

Bryan: But, then the Chargers are hardly ameliorating their salary cap situation. Trading that contract would require them to suffer an enormous cap hit, one which could cripple them for a few years. I don't think this is so much a defense of the Rivers’ pick as it is common sense in regard to cap management.

Ben: You maybe right about their cap concerns. However teams usually are willing to do whatever it takes to keep a franchise QB. Brees is too good to let go.

Bryan: Well, it's going to be a difficult decision for them. Ultimately, what's more valuable? Drew Brees, or Phillip Rivers, extra cap space, and extra draft picks? There's no way to tangibly measure how important Brees is. His relationship with Tomlinson and Gates... who knows if that can be replaced.

Ben: No. But I will say that when Brees was playing poorly, the Chargers were not a good team.

Bryan: But let's say for a second that they're willing. They want the Jets to trade down (let's say the Jets wind up at #2) to the Chargers' selection (#26 or so), and they also want the Jets' third-round pick. Do you do it? Let's keep in mind the Jets have almost no shot at Reggie Bush, as badly as we both want him.

Ben: No I wouldn't. Long story short, I wouldn't make that trade because of how valuable a top three pick is going to be in this draft. I would not be unhappy if the Jets ended up with Ferguson, Bush or Leinart.

Bryan: Well, it's almost impossible for us to predict with any certainty in the draft. My feeling is that there will be a team who values Bush so highly that they'll do what it takes to get the #1 overall pick. But in any event, the season hasn't been settled, so let's not speculate too much. I would pull the trigger on that deal, only if Bush were not available.
Bryan's talented and no doubt expensive #1 choice.

So, Ben, let's move away from Brees for a moment. What's your overall recommendation for the Jets at quarterback, considering the Fiedler news?

Ben: Well my number one choice of course has now looked miserable two weeks in a row. So while I still believe in Mike McMahon, I can't in good conscience suggest the Jets actually give up anything of value for him. As of right now, my choice would be David Garrard. He's had some success in the past; he's young and mobile which will help on a Jets team that is having some issues with the offensive line. My gut feeling says a third rounder and another mid rounder gets him. He's got talent, but he hasn't shown it over the long haul yet and Jacksonville, realistically, knows Byron Leftwich is their QB. He's injury prone, but they could sign a backup to replace Garrard.

Bryan: That's not a terrible price to pay, but my patience for quarterbacks who can't throw a deep out with authority has waned over the last few years. I know that the line isn't in great condition, but, given reasonable expectations that Mawae and Kendall can return to form, I'm personally much more interested in a classic drop-back passer, who would make the most sense for a Heimerdinger offense. One guy who has piqued my interest is Jon Kitna, whose role with the Bengals has been reduced to zero. I really believe he could be obtained at reasonable cost, and he showed in his last season as a starter that he can really wing it.

Ben: He's going to get a lot of interest this off season and that last season was two years ago. However, if he can be signed to a decent contract however, I would not be against the Jets doing that. At the very least they don't have to surrender anything for him.

Bryan: As a result of his recent inactivity, an incentive-laden deal might make the most sense. And as you've mentioned, no draft picks would be given up. So, if Brees is an unattainable entity, I think I would suggest the Jets make a run at Kitna, allow Pennington to continue rehabilitation, and draft a quarterback in the middle rounds. Brooks Bollinger will never be able to overcome his vertical inadequacy, unfortunately. The only issue is that there will certainly be other teams interested in his services. And, given Pennington's massive contract, the Jets are in shaky waters.

Ben: Yes, which is why I'm not sure Kitna would be the veteran they would sign. I think the guy would be someone like Kerry Collins.

Bryan: Boy, even after his performance to date?

Ben: Collins will be cheap this off season, has that great arm Heimerdinger covets and the Jets have shown no reluctance to use QBs who A. can't move and B. have poor judgment.

Bryan: They surrounded him with a multitude of capable players, and he hardly thrived. The one upside I see is that Collins can handle New York.

Ben: I don't disagree, but I just don't think the Jets want to get rid of Pennington yet and that is going to limit them in who they can go after. Kitna, I feel, will end up being too much for the Jets to spend. Other teams will pay him good money to start. A lot of teams need QBs.

Bryan: I don't know, Ben. How significant, in your assessment, is the drop-off from Kitna to Collins, because in my estimation, it's fairly significant.

Ben: I'm not sold on Kitna, but believe me I have no faith in Collins. However, I'm just saying that's the reason the Jets will have problem getting Kitna. When you look at QBs in the free agent market, the pickings are slim. You've got retreads like Collins or Warner, or unproven, inconsistent guys like Josh McCown or Marques Tuisasosopo.

Bryan: The Cards, by all accounts, plan on retaining Kurt.

Ben: I wouldn't but the Cards seem to like his 300 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 fumble lost games. That's why they're the Cardinals and why I'm never picking them to win the NFC West again. However, Warner bashing aside, let me bounce what I feel are the two most likely scenarios for the Jets off you.

Bryan: I wonder if Kurt Warner's fumble problems extend outside of the football field. When he's pumping his gas, does he inevitably soil his jeans with fuel? When he's carrying around his children?

Alright, let's hear it. Let me say first that the difference between Kitna and Collins ultimately seems to be contingent on their decision in regard to Pennington. But please, proceed.

Ben's #1 choice; a young, unproven player of potential. What else is new?

Ben: Scenario 1: Matt Leinart falls to the Titans. Norm Chow, being the offensive coordinator there, gets the Titans to take him. Thus Billy Volek becomes expendable, and the Jets trade for him. I'd probably say he'd cost about what Garrard does; a third and some other mid round pick.

Bryan: I wouldn’t mind that option at all; Volek is capable enough to fill in, and he wouldn't be so expensive that the Jets would have to release Pennington. What's the second scenario?

Ben: Scenario 2: The Jets sign a mediocre QB like a Collins and spend a draft pick on a QB. The plan is to try and win next year with Collins/Pennington (if he can come back) while letting their QB of the future develop behind the veteran.

Bryan: I would be amenable to this solution only if the Jets were upgrade from Collins (at this point, I think his career as a prosperous quarterback is over), or spend their second-round pick on a quarterback. And, on the whole, the scheme seems quite fallible. I'd rather place a wise bet on something with high probability for success than take three shots in the dark. Hence my attraction to Brees and Kitna.

Ben: I don't disagree, I just feel that is what the Jets will end up doing.

That’s it for part 1. In part two we’ll discuss USC’s other player; that QB who won some huge award in 2004 and David wishes declared for the draft last season. We’ll also touch on some other guys who maybe on the market come the off season. In the time being, maybe the Jets can get another win which makes any remote chance they had at drafting Reggie Bush at this point, complete moot.


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