Signing QB Blake Bortles must be the New York Jets’ next move

blake bortles

As the start of the Zach Wilson era hits a bit of a snag, Aaron Rodgers’ arrival allows the New York Jets to right a glaring wrong.

As Moonrise Kingdom, Meatballs, and the never-ending Friday the 13th franchise taught us…what’s summer camp without a little chaos?

The New York Jets’ proceedings, which began Tuesday morning on One Jets Drive contain an aura of slight spookiness. Touted franchise quarterback/savior Zach Wilson has yet to report to the team, the only player on the Jets’ roster who has yet to arrive in Florham Park. Wilson, the second overall pick of last spring’s NFL Draft, is one of two first-round picks that have yet to sign with the team that drafted him, joining fellow thrower Trey Lance in San Francisco. The BYU alum’s Instagram story hinted that he is still in his home state of California as the Jets’ first camp practice looms on Wednesday.

Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, contract offsets appear to be the point of contention between Wilson and Gang Green. Offsets offer a team relative insurance if they cut a high-profile draft pick prior to the end of his original four-year deal. A similar discussion temporarily delayed the start of the Sam Darnold era, as the previous franchise quarterback missed New York’s first three practices before inking his deal.

Head coach Robert Saleh doesn’t seem too concerned about the Wilson situation. Per notes from the Jets, he referred to the Wilson contract talks purely as “business” and that the quarterback is “intelligent” enough to make up for any lost time.

“(General manager Joe Douglas) has a great handle on everything and when it gets done, it gets done,” Saleh said. “He’s got a tremendous drive so when he does get here, I know somehow someway he’ll make up for it.”

The Wilson situation, however, does give the Jets an opportunity to reflect on a rare offseason failure: with Wilson stationed on the other side of the country, the fact that the Jets’ other two rostered quarterbacks (James Morgan and Mike White) have zero NFL regular season passes between them looms larger than ever.

Saleh has never been one to panic over the backup quarterback controversy and continued to keep his cool on Tuesday. He even hinted that quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese, who broke Boomer Esiason’s passing records at East Islip High School on Long Island, has a “live arm” and could be called upon in practice in lieu of a veteran backup.

“I do believe that (Morgan and White) got better as camp went on, the two backups, and so we’ll see where they’re at come tomorrow and today for that matter, and we’ll progress through and make a decision as we see fit,” Saleh said when asked if the Jets would seek veteran help. “I got a lot of faith in Joe. So, we’ll see what happens here in the next couple of hours.”

Saleh’s introductory camp comments were made in the midst of the football landscape’s reshaping: nearly a thousand miles away in Wisconsin, Aaron Rodgers channeled his inner Dwight Schrute in a shirt depicting another character from The Office, Brian Baumgartner’s Kevin Malone. Rodgers temporarily lifted his shun of the Green Bay Packers and signed on for what appears one last ride in yellow and green. It sent a slight ripple throughout the football world, as the team released backup throwers Blake Bortles and Jake Dolegala.

The release of the former can help the Jets right one of the few wrongs they’ve endured this offseason.

Saleh has made it clear throughout the offseason that he’s not going to add a veteran quarterback for the sake of adding one, reasoning that teaching the Jets’ new offensive to an experienced newcomer would be no different from counseling a rookie (which makes their passing on former San Francisco understudy Nick Mullens all the more puzzling).

But the ongoing Wilson situation shows just how fragile the Jets’ current setup at quarterback is. They’re currently trapped with a questionable fourth-round pick and a 2018 day three pick that has been on and off the New York practice squad. Bortles can help a developing team like the Jets in several ways.

Even taking away the relatively cliched idea of a mentorship role…one that he briefly filled for Jared Goff with the LA Rams…Bortles can prove beneficial to New York’s future. Though it’s safe to say that Bortles hasn’t lived up to his third overall pick billing with Jacksonville (the first quarterback chosen in the 2014 proceedings), the 29-year-old has been serviceable enough to build a lengthy NFL career. Since 2014, Bortles has thrown 103 touchdown passes, one of 24 NFL passers to do so in that span despite minimal playing time over the last two seasons. In comparison, the Jets as a team have thrown only 137 in the last seven seasons, dead last in the league. If Wilson is befallen by an emergency…contract, injury, or otherwise…there are far worse options to install.

When Bortles’ five-year term in Jacksonville ended, then-head coach Doug Marrone didn’t buy into the idea that the Central Florida alum was a bust, despite the divorce. Instead, Marrone saw a leader who defined toughness in more ways than one.

“We as coaches always use that term and people think it’s physicality of how you play the game,” Marrone said in a Bortles retrospective penned by Gene Frenette of Jacksonville.com. “Everyone can see the physical toughness, the shots he’s taken, really putting himself out there. We see and appreciate that.”

“The stuff you can’t see is the mental toughness,” Marrone continued. “What I remember from Blake is how he handled himself, standing up there and answering all the questions. Quarterbacks can deflect a lot of issues that occur on the field. Blake didn’t do that. He took a tremendous amount of accountability, maybe more than should have been on his plate.”

Bortles’ one shining moment at the NFL level stands to be his 2017 campaign, when he helped guide the Jaguars to an improbable conference title game appearance (and, arguably, a stolen Super Bowl showing). Signing him would keep up with the theme of big game experience the Jets have created this offseason.

Two-time Super Bowl participant Tevin Coleman is slated to be their top rusher. Another ring bearer, former Philadelphia Eagles Vinny Curry, should help mentor a young front seven. The team already added one of Bortles’ 2017 teammates, receiver Keelan Cole. Fellow newcomers Corey Davis, Sheldon Rankins, and Tyler Kroft have all likewise competed in a conference title game over the last three seasons. That experience can help a team desperate for any sense of direction or positive reinforcement move forward in their quest to a postseason drought that has reached double digits.

The Jets are coming toward the end of an intriguing offseason that can be remarkably classified as macabre yet hopeful: the 2020 season was garish that almost any adjustment would’ve qualified as an improvement. Yet, there are legitimate upgrades on this roster that will help them in both immediately and in the future. Failing to add a backup quarterback was a rare shortcoming that could’ve been avoided.

Rodgers’ return sent ripples throughout the football world and offered the Jets a rare gift. They must do their best to take advantage.

How important is it for the Jets to add a veteran QB like Bortles to the fold? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and keep the conversation going.

Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman says ‘you explore everything’ in regards to Aaron Rodgers rumors

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

If you’ve been following along with the Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay saga, you know that it took an interesting twist on Monday afternoon. Reportedly, Rodgers curated a list of teams he’d be willing to play for, and the New York Giants were surprisingly on the supposed list. While Rodgers has yet to confirm this is even true, let’s roll with this ridiculous rumor for the sake of the off-season.

Does this make any sense for the Giants? Absolutely not. While adding Rodgers would give them the potential to be a top 10 defense immediately, he would count $22.85 million against the cap. The Giants simply don’t have that much money available, even if they parted ways with Daniel Jones, due to his guaranteed money on his rookie contract. They would have to cut a variety of players, giving up money during the 2021 season just to fit Rodgers under their salary cap.

Is there any way the New York Giants could figure out the money?

Alternatively, they could ask Rodgers to tear up his contract and offer him an entirely new deal that would backload the money a few seasons. That would be the only way they can operate strategically, but Rodgers is currently 37 years old and not getting any younger, so his quality of play eventually will begin to deteriorate.

Even if he takes a step backward in his production, he still managed 48 touchdowns last season, a career-high that landed him on the All-Pro First Team. There’s no question that whatever offense he is on is immediately a contender, and the Giants arguably have more weapons on their unit than the Green Bay Packers.

Having recently acquired in Kadarius Toney in the 2021 NFL draft, the Giants are also expecting Saquon Barkley to return to full health this upcoming season, with the addition of Kenny Golladay as their WR1.

Rodgers would have himself a field day with the weapons the Giants currently possess, but again, the contract numbers simply don’t match up. Nonetheless, general manager Dave Gettleman stated that the Rodgers debacle was none of his business but then followed up on WFAN on Monday afternoon, stating, “you explore everything.”

Whether Gettleman loves to mess with the media or the fan base, he certainly stirred a ruckus on social media. While expecting anything to come from this rumor is optimistic and maybe even foolish, the Giants are clearly dedicated to Daniel Jones and his development, as their off-season would attest.

They’re hoping for a Josh Allen-like developmental jump this upcoming year, and after spending $70 million on Golliday and a first-round pick on another playmaker, Jones will have plenty of talent to utilize on offense.

No, the New York Jets shouldn’t trade for Aaron Rodgers

The idea of Aaron Rodgers exchanging shades of green seems enticing, but the New York Jets should probably resist.

Let’s go with “Draft Day Bombs” for $1200, Aaron.

As the hours dwindle before the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network), ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Green Bay Packers. The disgruntled Jeopardy! host and Super Bowl MVP turns 38 in December but has continued to post stellar numbers in a career that will undoubtedly end in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Rodgers is the defending NFL MVP, posting career-best numbers in several major passing categories, including a 70.5 completion rate and a jaw-dropping 48 touchdown passes.

With Rodgers upset with Green Bay management…Schefter claims part of it stems from the Packers’ puzzling decision to draft Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with their premier selection last year…fans of non-Wisconsin teams across the league have clicked open their Photoshop apps to don Rodgers in their team’s colors. Supporters of the New York Jets are likely no exception, as there’s little doubt any metropolitan supporter would say no to Rodgers wearing a different shade of green after years of questions and failures at the franchise quarterback spot.

But if the idea of Rodgers exchanging an oval G for capitalized script on his helmet sounds too good to be true…that’s because it probably is.

Rodgers is one of the rare active quarterbacks…heck, probably in NFL history…that can single-handedly turn a team’s fortunes around. Green Bay, laden with controversy and silliness over the past decade-plus, has remained a perpetual prescience in the NFL’s playoff picture thanks to Rodgers’ efforts. But even he might have trouble making a playoff team out of this current Jets squad. The Jets undboutedly improved over the past few months, but it’s still not fair to expect the postseason out of them. There are simply too many established contenders in the AFC and the Jets’ own division appears to be under the control of a Buffalo overlord. Even Rodgers hasn’t ended every season in the playoffs, much less at the top of his quartet.

Even in his late 30s, Rodgers continues to be one of the most impactful and dominant quarterbacks in the NFL. Like Tom Brady before him, he could well continue passing a decade from now, when he’s in his mid-40s. But the Jets can’t afford to take a relative risk like that. No one knows how much longer Rodgers is going to want to do this. Schefter has implied that he may want to settle down with his fiancé, actress Shailene Woodley, and Rodgers himself has set his sights on succeeding the late Alex Trebek full-time.

Today’s offense-worshipping NFL requires a strong starting quarterback but they must also possess a thrower with whom they’re comfortable starting in three-to-five (if he’s not the same guy, that is). The Jets have a chance to fulfill that need with the second overall pick in the upcoming draft, a choice that will likely be used on BYU’s Zach Wilson. It’s better to stick with homegrown talent than going with a guy who would likely lead roll call on the updated “Wait, He Played For the Jets?!?!?” team roster.

“But wait!” you interject. “Why can’t they have both Rodgers and Wilson? What a great mentor for the kid!” The idea that such a union could work is a pipe dream at best. Fans will be welcomed back to MetLife Stadium this season, and the last thing either quarterback needs is for fans to start screaming for his replacement every time he throws an incomplete pass. The Jets have a chance to start fresh with a new roster, but they must work through with as little controversy as possible. Combining Rodgers with a rookie is the very worst way to go about that.

Besides, the Jets have already had one unpleasant experience with a Green Bay legend in Brett Favre. The season itself was more heartbreakingly mediocre than truly unpleasant, but it was nonetheless an endeavor that set the franchise back several years. Its lasting legacy, for example, is the fact it led to the drafting of Mark Sanchez. Additionally, Tim Tebow’s Jacksonville tryout was a stark reminder of the sensational and oftentimes absurd coverage that surrounded the team during Tebow’s one-year term…and he wasn’t even the starter. The combination of Rodgers, (burdened with controversy that’s sometimes far from his own doing), and the Jets (whose mere existence elicits sophomoric social media snickers) would be a marriage of no winners, one where non-football obstacles would rival opposing defenses.

This is a rare opportunity for the Jets to start with something homegrown and surround him with a strong foundation, including a head coach whose hire has earned positive reviews across the league. There’s no use playing with another team’s unwanted toys anymore…even if that toy is an only slightly rugged PlayStation 5.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Deshaun Watson trade could set up possible Aaron Rodgers move

Deshaun Watson, New York Giants

Some quarterback scenarios are more likely than others for the New York Giants, but it’s worth looking into all options. The Giants have been listed by many as one of the teams that could benefit from a Deshaun Watson trade, but there may be another high profile quarterback on the market – that quarterback could be Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers is, of course, the older player. He has a longer track record of success but also has less effective years less in the league. He’s 37 years old and it’s likely not long before his age shows more in his game on the field.

However, Rodgers is still an elite quarterback as of now and some QB needy teams may be interested. Here’s what ESPN had to say about the situation.

Sources around the league don’t believe Rodgers is on the trade market at this point, but if Rodgers asks for a trade, the belief is that a team — or teams — would be willing to part with a first- and either a second- or third-round pick for Rodgers.

A Watson trade could help set the market as well, but the expectation is that the Texans would be able to land more than what Rodgers is worth given that Watson is 12 years younger.

What would this mean?

It seems the Packers may ask for more if Watson is traded and Rodgers is left as the one high profile quarterback available for a trade this offseason.

Why should Giants fans care about this?

Obviously, Aaron Rodgers making the switch to the Giants is an unlikely scenario. Daniel Jones has more years left in the league, after all. But if the Giants wanted to win now at all costs and take the next step to getting back in the Super Bowl, a move for an aging Rodgers is one fringe but still somewhat interesting path.

At the end of the day, if there’s a Rodgers trade, it’s likely there will be other QB needy teams that reach out before the Giants do.

But with the amount of talk created about the possibility of a Deshaun Watson trade, you have to wonder if the Giants would consider making a different trade for a franchise quarterback if Watson was considered but ultimately not traded for due to his contract or the Texans’ demands.

The public facing part of the Giants organization has expressed loyalty to Daniel Jones so far. But if the Giants want to go in a different direction, there may be a very good quarterback on the market for less cost than Watson.

Aaron Rodgers to Daniel Jones: Learn From These Days

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants dropped their eighth consecutive game on Sunday, a 31-13 schooling at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Rodgers, who had been struggling coming into the game, completing 21-of-33 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns in the slush for a 124.5 QB rating against the fractured Giants defense. He rose above the elements to display his Hall of Fame talent as the Giants’ young signal caller, Daniel Jones, watched from the opposing sideline.

Jones did not play poorly (20-37 for 240 yards and a TD), but threw three interceptions. After the game, Rodgers met Jones at midfield to offer some words of wisdom. The conversation was recorded.

Jones is grateful for every and any learning experience he can get. His team isn’t really giving him the support he needs, so outside encouragement is always welcome.

“I appreciated his encouragement yesterday,” Jones said during his Monday conference call. “It’s cool to meet some of these guys and speak to them briefly. He was encouraging. He told me to stick with it and keep working at it, and I certainly appreciate him saying that.”

Jones has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts, which is the fourth-longest streak among quarterbacks who started their careers since the 1970 merger: Kurt Warner (23), Baker Mayfield (17) and Brad Johnson (15) are the others.

Jones also increased his passing yards season total to 2,374, a new Giants rookie record, eclipsing the old mark of 2,175 set by Conerly in 1948. Jones has previously set the franchise rookie records for pass attempts (now at 370) and completions (207).