Report: Deshaun Watson’s top choice is the New York Jets

A report from the Miami Herald has indicated that the outgoing Texan’s destination of choice would be the New York Jets.

According to a report from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Deshaun Watson’s seeking an AFC East destination when his move from the Houston Texans inevitably comes. Watson’s first choice is reportedly the New York Jets, with the Miami Dolphins appearing in the runner-up slot.

Salguero’s report claims that Watson prefers New York over Miami because of the hiring of Robert Saleh as head coach. A separate report from Mike Florio of ProFootbalTalk claimed that Watson wanted the Texans to interview Saleh for their own head coaching vacancy but that Houston management wasn’t interested. Jim Caldwell and former Jets quarterback Josh McCown have been more recently linked to the search for Bill O’Brien’s replacement, but the refusal to bring Saleh in has only made the relationship between Watson and the Texans even icier. Noted Saleh celebrant Richard Sherman encouraged Watson to go to the Jets on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast, advising him to get out of Houston “as quickly as possible”. Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract.

Both the Jets and Dolphins own high picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Jets will choose second and Miami selects immediately after. Miami’s slot was originally held by the Texans, but they sent it to Miami in exchange for Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, and a pair of day three picks. The Jets, however, may have more trade ammunition, as they own two first-round picks in each of the next two drafts thanks to a summer trade with Seattle that involved Jamal Adams. New York will also begin the offseason with the second-most cap space at over $65 million, behind only Jacksonville.

Watson is looking for new surroundings after the relationship between him and the Texans soured after a 4-12 season, one notably marked by the absence of top receiving topic DeAndre Hopkins, who traded to Arizona for rusher David Johnson and two picks beyond the first round. Despite the raw feelings, Watson posted a career-best 33 touchdown passes and 4,823 yards, the latter mark leading the league.

Notably, each of Watson’s preferred destinations has an established franchise quarterback option. The Jets will have Sam Darnold in the final year of his rookie contract, while the Dolphins’ offense struggled in Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie campaign last season. Saleh was noncommital when addressing Darnold’s future with the organization during his introductory statements earlier this week, but mentioned that was “premature” to call Darnold his top thrower entering training camp.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: The case against Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson, New York Giants

The idea of Deshaun Watson moving to the New York Jets sounds too good to be true. That’s because, frankly…it is.

Somehow, someway, the Houston Texans…a team blessed with the talents of one of the most recognizable names in football on each side of the ball, winners of four of the last six AFC South titles…managed to become a more toxic gridiron wasteland than the New York Jets.

To paraphrase the great Ron Burgundy, one can’t even be mad. It’s amazing.

The biggest story outside of the NFL playoff picture by far is the fate of Watson, the beleaguered franchise quarterback. No playoff games await Watson, but he is apparently nonetheless on a mission this postseason: to get out of Houston as fast as possible. It’s a liberation that has been brewing for some time and the rumbling has only intensified upon the end of the Texans’ 4-12 season. Adam Schefter of ESPN brought things to a fever pitch through a report that strongly indicated that Watson “has played his last snap for the team”.

Despite the lack of a formal trade request (and the prescience of the no-trade clause in his contract), Watson has been linked to several of his non-playoff brethren, including the Jets. The sleuths of Instagram took notice of one of Watson’s recent “likes”, one featuring potentially the first of many punny headlines from the New York Post. Richard Sherman, a noted fan of new Jets boss Robert Saleh, advised Watson to “head to New York” on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast. Video has surfaced of Watson purchasing a car his associates wanting it painted “jet green”.

From a Jets standpoint, all the pieces appear to align in their favor. The light at the end of their two-win tunnel was the second overall pick in April’s draft, a pick the Texans desperately need after shipping their own first rounder (which became the pick right after New York’s) to Miami. That more than likely won’t be enough to satisfy the Texans (who likely won’t be appearing in Wid Card Saturday’s afternoon slot anytime soon), but the Jets have the picks to atone for it, including guaranteed first-rounders from Seattle via the Jamal Adams trade. Assets beyond picks could include contributors under contract that might become salary cap casualties anyway…talented names like Jamison Crowder and Henry Anderson that could potentially save the Jets a pick. Thier cap space is already pretty attractive as is; entering the 2021 offseason, the Jets have just over $65 million to spend, behind only Jacksonville ($73 million).

The Jets have been looking for a lasting franchise quarterback after since Joe Namath took his final green snaps in 1976. False prophets have come and gone, but a name like Watson, only starting to tap into his true potential and power, could give the Jets long-term assurance and stability at arguably the most important position in all of sports.

If all of this sounds too good to be true…especially when it comes to a franchise as star-crossed as the Jets…that’s because, frankly, it probably is. A union between Watson and the Jets wouldn’t be fair to either side, tantalizing as it may be.

For Watson, a New York collaboration wouldn’t be much different from his current situation in Houston…except it would be a lot colder. From a Jets’ standpoint, there would little separate a potential era of Watson from the Sam Darnold saga. The way the team is constructed now, there would be plenty of instances of Watson running for his life, and this would be after he led the league in passing yardage despite being brought down 49 times with the Texans (third-worst in football). Watson’s mobile talents would perhaps spare him some of the carnage, but likely nothing where he would be able to make a meaningful difference in the Jets’ offense, one that finished at or near the bottom of most major statistical categories.

To the Jets’ credit, namely general manager Joe Douglas’, they’re starting to making sensible, rational, if not conservative, decisions with their offensive roster. In his first draft last spring, Douglas bypassed the name-brand receiving talent to take tackle Mekhi Becton. Not only did Becton turn out to be one of the brightest emergences of the 2020 rookie class, but Douglas was also able to earn a big-play receiver in Denzel Mims in the second round. There’s also plenty of time between now and Week 1 of a hopefully normal 2021 season…heck, there’s plenty of time even before the draft…for Douglas, Saleh, and the Jets to stock up and become more attractive to a new franchise quarterback, whether it’s Watson, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields. There’s no guarantee they’ll even move on from Darnold, who has reportedly caught the eye of both Saleh and his reported new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

Unfortunately for Douglas, however, his debut veteran acquisition class left much to be desired, riddled with names that were plagued by injuries (Bradley McDougald, Greg Van Roten), inconsistency (Connor McGovern, Pierre Desir), or both (Breshad Perriman). Adding Watson is the type of move a team makes when they’re the proverbial “one move away” from the Super Bowl. If the Adam Gase era proved anything, it’s that the Jets are many, many moves away from a mere playoff berth, much less the Big Game.

The Jets needed to use every asset, every piece of roster capital they have to end this cycle of rebuilding. Dedicating a majority of those resources, be it picks, be it cap space, to Watson and his contract (which includes a $40 million cap hit next year) would be reckless spending, using excess fund to plug one hole when there are many, many, many holes to be filled. Bringing Watson in would sell jerseys, but it wouldn’t necessarily lead to wins.

Modern NFL endeavors have provided countless examples of such irresponsible spending. The Jets’ MetLife Stadium co-tenants, for example, were on the verge of something at least entertaining at the end of the 2016-17 season. In the first year of their post-Tom Coughlin endeavors, the New York Giants won 11 games and showcased six All-Pro men on their roster. Their season ended in a listless 38-13 Wild Card playoff loss in Green Bay, but hope was on the horizon, manifested in several high-profile transactions. Big Blue welcomed in receiver Brandon Marshall to work alongside Odell Beckham Jr. They used their first-round pick on tight end Evan Engram, an Ole Miss alum to gear up fellow former Rebel Eli Manning for one last run to glory. Later in the draft, the Giants took Davis Webb in the third round, perhaps the most serious they had come to seeking an heir to the Manning throne. The team also re-upped with fan favorite pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to the tune of a four-year contract with $40 million guaranteed.

But in their marquee spending, the Giants failed to account for some of more dour problems hidden on their roster, namely the offensive line. The Giants did little, if anything, to upgrade their line, letting reliable veterans like Andrew Whitworth fall by the wayside. Cursed with little to no blocking help, the Giants sputtered to a brutal 3-13 season and fell down a hole they have yet to emerge from. Beckham has since been traded, and there is little left from the promising 2016 campaign.

The story of the modern Giants and so many other “offseason champions” in the NFL serve as cautionary tales to active Super Bowl seekers. A house renovation could serve as a strong parable to what the Jets are going through at this moment. Bringing in Watson would be a high-profile purchase, immediately spending a windfall on, say, a luxury vehicle or swimming pool. However, doing so would ignore more grimy, subtle problems in the house that could bring the entire structure down…mold damage in the basement, perhaps. Even if the Jets admit that Darnold isn’t the answer, there are still situations to resolve, such as their porous blocking, uncertain rungame situation, and lack of offensive weapons and defensive depth. Filling every blank with Watson isn’t going to work, no matter how hard the Jets try. The Texans have tried doing that with Watson and J.J. Watt…chaos has enused.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It seems hard for Jets fans to believe, but that’s the cruelly funny thing about life in the NFL: there’s no situation, no matter how dire, where things can’t actively get worse. The Jets have been blessed with a plethora of offseason capital through multiple draft picks and excess cap space. To cash it all in on one big-ticket player would be reckless.

Another reason why Watson’s potential New York arrival sounds so promising is because not only has he made an impact on the field, but he continues to be a vital prescience off of it as well. Watson has made it clear he wants to use his voice for good as Americans seek an end to systemic racism and he has also come through for Houston medical staffers fighting the ongoing health crisis. Bringing in a high-character superstar would be the perfect way to open a new Jets era, one that could allow them to shatter the losing status quo that New York football has become far-too-accustomed to. Watson’s rumored eagerness to join a two-win team bearing what’s by far the longest playoff drought in the NFL (10 seasons) speaks volumes as well, signifying a welcome counter to the concept of “ring-chasing” that has spread throughout the major professional sports leagues.

But to ask Watson to come to New York and become a lone, instant fixer-upper…which is essentially what he would be if the Jets bestow all of their offseason funding unto him…when he’s on the precipice of entering his prime is a little too much to ask for. A more established contender, a Miami, an Indianapolis, would be better for a player of his talents. If the Jets truly want to make a change at quarterback, they would be far better off using their cap space to create a more attractive environment for a rookie quarterback, or even build around Darnold if Saleh and LaFleur are impressed enough to keep him around.

This is a new, exciting time to take an interest in the New York Jets…it’s so rare to say that. While there’s a chance that Douglas could make the Watson revolution work, it’s best, for the time being, to avoid temptation. It’s never good to use an “all for one” mentality…the assets, an “all for all” situation, would be better spent on many helpers, never mind just one, showstopping as he may be.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Robert Saleh is a risky, but affordable choice

New York Jets, Robert Saleh

Opting for a defensive-minded boss is risky in today’s NFL landscape, but the New York Jets are in prime position to pull the trigger.

Arguing with Paul “Bear” Bryant might be ground for dismissal from any football-related conversations for the foreseeable future. But his time-honored axiom of “defense wins championships” has been put to the test over recent seasons.

The modern NFL has come to worship a deity known as fantasy football. Scoring is at an all-time high, as the average NFL team scored 24.8 points per game this season. It was a year that teams routinely reach the 20s and 30s in scoring…and still lose. For the Cleveland Browns, 42 points weren’t enough for them to steal a win from Baltimore during Week 14’s action. Penalties against quarterbacks and receivers serve as defensive death sentences. NFL Red Zone was created as a means of informing fans when offensive happenings were occurring or nearby.

So, of course, when searching for the 20th head coach in the franchise history to lead them into the high-voltage 2020s, the New York Jets went out and hired…a defensive guru?

Ten days after Adam Gase’s firing, the Jets have brought in Robert Saleh to oversee the latest chapter of their perpetual rebuild. Saleh’s resume is one of endless defense. All but two of his prior postings have included words “defense” or “defensive”, the exceptions being his role as a linebacker supervisor in Houston (2009-10) and Jacksonville (2014-16). Saleh has overseen the San Francisco 49ers defense for the past four seasons, the penultimate of which ended with an appearance in Super Bowl LIV.

Ironically, Saleh has also earned football’s finest prize at MetLife Stadium of all places, earning a ring with the Seattle Seahawks as a defensive quality control coach during their dismantling of Denver in 2014.

Choosing a defensive guru is risky from a New York standpoint in the sense that the Jets are at a bit of a crossroads with their offense. For the umpteenth time, they may be searching for the long-term franchise quarterback denied to them since Joe Namath disappeared into the Miami night after his legendary victory at the Orange Bowl over a half-century prior. Whether their quarterback come Week 1 is Sam Darnold, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Deshaun Watson, or an unknown party yet to reveal himself, the Jets also need to surround him with weapons and protection. General manager Joe Douglas appeared to start the process with the respective acquisitions of Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims. Surely an experienced offensive name…a Greg Roman, Brian Daboll, or Arthur Smith…would’ve been something to kickstart an offense that’s going to have to counter whatever Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs put up in Buffalo for the foreseeable future.

There’s a slight sense of deja vu with the Jets’ attempt to bend the curve, to defy the new football order where offense is king. That’s what made the Adam Gase hire so different: the Jets had been trying to buck a decade-long trend of smashmouth defense-first football that, frankly, had appeared to run its course. Rex Ryan’s bold and brash philosophies netted the Jets consecutive conference title game appearances with Mark Sanchez under center, but his schtick wore thin once his tactic proved unsustainable. Todd Bowles, another accomplished defensive mind, was well-liked by his players but it only translated to the most heartbreaking 10-win season in NFL history. Going the defensive route yet again seems counterproductive, especially with the Jets ill-equipped to handle shootouts. Last season, the Jets failed to break 30 points in any of their 16 contests, one of only two teams reach such dire straits (the other being Philadelphia).

But Saleh is a risk the Jets can well-afford to take.

For one thing, the Jets are a team that can use any form of good vibrations right now. Cleveland and Tampa Bay’s ongoing playoff treks only serve as reminders that New York now owns the longest playoff drought in the league by far at 10 years and their lone winning season in that span was the star-crossed 2015 season that ended in Buffalo heartbreak. Too many coaching candidates would’ve brought unnecessary baggage to let the good times flow. With the team stuck in a perpetual rebuild, they need as little distraction as possible. Gase, with his spotty Miami track record and uncanny clause of having his former pupils rise to stardom elsewhere (Ryan Tannehill, Kenyan Drake) wasn’t going to bring that aura of peace. Doug Pederson had the connections with Douglas but would undoubtedly have to deal with questions about his supposed tossing of the Week 17 contest against Washington during his Philadelphia finale. Smith just had to watch his Tannehill-led offense get stymied by Baltimore in a home playoff game.

Saleh, however, emerges with a mostly clean resume. San Francisco struggled in the final season of his era, but it was little fault of the defense, that ranked fifth in the league in yards surrendered and fourth in first downs allowed. Their spot in the statistical penthouses was secure despite several key defensive contributors (Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, and Jimmie Ward) missing a majority of the season.

The Gase-hire was met with a sense of wariness, his lone endorsement coming from Peyton Manning. While the accomplished Manning posted the best numbers of his career under Gase, there was a general sense that the staff from The Waterboy could’ve handled Manning during his early Denver days. Saleh, ironically one of those who helped solve Gase’s offense during the 43-8 destruction of the Broncos at MetLife Stadium, was endorsed by Richard Sherman himself. Unlike Manning, Sherman was never saddled with high expectations, more or less an afterthought when the Seahawks chose him 154th overall in the 2011 draft. But under Saleh, Sherman not only turned himself into a household name in the NFL but he also recovered from a lull in his career when he joined up with the 49ers in 2018. Sherman took to Twitter to extend his congratulations to the Jets upon learning of Saleh’s hiring.

Long before the Jets’ head coaching slot officially opened, Sherman endorsed Saleh for such a role, namely the one in Detroit after the Lions bid Matt Patricia farewell.

“You’ve got to give Robert Saleh an abundance of credit. You have to give him an unusual amount of credit, and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit not only here but in the league, in general,” Sherman said of Saleh after San Francisco’s 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams in November, per video provided by the 49ers. “I expect him to be a head coach next year, because of what he’s able to do,” Sherman said. “He’s able to rally men. He’s a leader of men, and that goes a long way.”

In that game, Sherman’s clutch interception of Jared Goff helped push the 49ers to the first win for a SoFi Stadium history. Los Angeles earned 308 yards and tallied only a dozen first downs in the triumph. Sherman would later tell Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that Saleh “had” to get the Detroit job.

“He’s a great leader of men. And he’s not stubborn,” Sherman said. “He doesn’t just think he has all the answers. He comes up with a great plan and evolves it with his players.”

Sherman might not have gotten his de facto wish of Saleh in Detroit but he seems happy for him nonetheless. He wasn’t the only one celebrating his New York arrival, with Quinnen Williams likewise joining the chorus. The Gase hire seemed to be appreciated only by the hot take artists like Colin Cowherd (who infamously demanded AFC title game tickets), with players mostly keeping to themselves. Some of Gase’s most vital constituents (i.e. Robby Anderson) wound up fleeing. With Saleh being welcomed with apparent open arms, it’s a swift, welcome departure and change of pace for the organization. From at least the outlook, the Jets are a destination that doesn’t seem so garish in the ultimate long run.

The Jets are in dire need of any positivity flowing in the organization. At least in the infantile going, Saleh is providing the best surge in a long, long time.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: No More Excuses In Week Three

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have suffered two disappointing losses to kick off their 2020 NFL season. Sitting at 0-2 the Giants are heading into Week Three with a divided, upset fanbase. New York lost its best player, Saquon Barkley, to a season-ending injury in Week Two. They lost by a single possession after holding the Bears to 0 points in the second half of their Week Two contest. In Week Three, there is no more room for excuses and there is no more time for development: the Giants need to win.

Rookie head coach Joe Judge has kept his team fighting hard in games that result in losing efforts. Now, at home, against an injury-riddled San Fransisco 49ers team in Week Three, Joe Judge and the Giants need to come away with a win.

Their Easiest Opponent Yet

The Giants faced two of the best defenses in the NFL in Weeks One and Two. They were scheduled to go up against yet another dominant front-seven in Week Three, but they are dodging a bullet as San Fransisco’s powerful defense has suffered a number of critical injuries.

Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Dee Ford are all out in Week Three (and some for much longer). On offense, Jimmy Garoppolo is unlikely to play, leaving Nick Mullens as the starting quarterback. The last time the Giants faced Nick Mullens and the 49ers, Eli Manning mounted a come-from-behind victory on primetime.

The Giants have no excuse not to beat the Nick Mullens-led 49ers again in 2020. Additionally, Mullens will be without the team’s starting running back, Raheem Mostert, who is currently twelfth in the NFL in rushing yards. Backup running back Tevin Coleman also did not participate in practice this week. And Mullens’s favorite target, All-Pro tight end George Kittle, has not practiced and did not play in Week Two.

New York is finally catching a break. After throwing their brand new coaching staff into the fire against two of the best teams in the NFL, the Giants are catching a break, going up against the most injured team in the NFL this week. The Fighting Joe Judges have no excuses left if they lose this game. This is one that they need to win, and one that they should win.

New York Giants: A New Rumor Regarding The Giants’ Quarterback Position

From now until the end of the NFL Draft, Giants fans will hear rumors daily. Some are more realistic than others. But many of these rumors will be surrounding one position. The quarterback position.

Will the Giants move on from Eli Manning? Will they draft his successor? Are they willing to trade up to draft his successor? Are they willing to trade picks for a veteran?

This long list of questions is what the Giants will need to answer this offseason. It is also where all of the rumors come from.

The Russell Wilson to the New York Giants rumor

The latest rumor, of course, is about the quarterback position. This rumor, unlike others, is unrelated to the NFL Draft. This particular rumor, if true, could turn the Giants into Super Bowl contenders with a top-5 quarterback in the NFL on their roster.

On Wednesday, February 20, Colin Cowherd of FOX Sports claimed to have heard a rumor behind-the-scenes in the “agency world.” The rumor is that Seattle Seahawks’ franchise quarterback Russell Wilson wants out of Seattle and his preferred destination is the New York Giants.

Here is the official video of Cowherd discussing his rumor on his show:

Reading that, Giants fans everywhere are screaming like little girls. But reading that it is a “rumor” from Colin Cowherd and what he heard in the “agency world” leaves this rumor to feel unbelievable. This is not the most credible source. Cowherd is no Ian Rapoport. Additionally, Cowherd’s reasons for why the trade makes sense do not make sense to some people.

Here is one fan’s reaction to Cowherd’s rumor:

Breaking Down Cowherd’s Five Reasons:

One of Cowherd’s reasons that most of us can agree with is the Giants’ need to replace Eli Manning with a star quarterback. Nobody wants to see mediocrity at the quarterback position in Big Blue. The Giants would love to have a proven superstar like Russell Wilson succeed Eli Manning.

For those of you who are not familiar, Ciara is Russell Wilson’s wife. She is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and model. The reason Cowherd believes Ciara prefers New York is the marketability. It is the same reason everyone thinks Kevin Durant wants to go to the Knicks. Playing in the New York media is good for your career and leads to plenty of extra opportunities.

In rainy Seattle, there is not nearly as much marketability. There are not many fashion shows taking place in Seattle like there are in New York. Plus, Ciara would probably love to perform in Madison Square Garden.

In terms of football, Russell Wilson is now 30 years old and on the final year of his contract. His next contract will be a big one, to say the least. The question for Russell is wether or not he wants to commit to playing Seattle for the rest of his career.

Seattle has been declining in talent recently. They moved on from star running back Marshawn Lynch two seasons ago. On top of that, their defense has been losing multiple key pieces. Seattle let all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman walk in free agency last year, premier safety Kam Chancellor retired in 2018, and all signs point to superstar safety Earl Thomas leaving this offseason.

The Seahawks are on the verge of a rebuild. The Giants are currently in a rebuild and trying to make their way out of it. Wilson would be the key piece to the Giants’ rebuild if they acquired him.

At the start of the rebuild last offseason, the Giants signed Pat Shurmur to be their head coach. Shurmur lead an explosive Minnesota Vikings offense to the NFC Championship game in 2017. He is a great offensive coach who would love to have someone with Russell Wilson’s talent in his offensive system.

Wilson has not had a great offensive coach in years. His head coach, Pete Carroll is a defensive minded coach. Many fans and analysts attribute the Seahawks’ loss in the 2018 playoffs to the team’s offensive coordinator. He was too insistent on running the ball and did not give Russell Wilson enough opportunities to take control of the game. Pat Shurmur would not make that mistake as an offensive minded coach who knows how to get the most talent out of his players.

Russell Wilson Highlights And Statistics:

Russell Wilson needs no introduction. Every NFL fan knows who he is and what he is capable of. The man is a Super Bowl champion and possibly a Hall of Fame player when it’s all said and done.

Nevertheless, it is good to see what kind of numbers a quarterback is putting up when your team is rumored to be considering trading for him. Especially when the price tag is likely multiple first round picks.

In 2018, Russell Wilson posted 35 passing touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. That is an incredible 5 to 1 ratio. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson was the 6th best quarterback in the NFL in 2018 with an 89.2 overall grade. He also picked up 3,448 yards through the air and 376 yards on the ground. He did all of this with one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines.

Russell was sacked a ridiculous 51 times in 2018. However, that did not hold back Wilson at all. He is a dual-threat quarterback with the ability to make throws under pressure. This trait would be the one to take the Giants to the next level, considering their talented group of skill players but lack of talent on the offensive line.

At only 30 years old, Russell Wilson is likely set to play in the NFL for at least another 5-8 years. Giants fans should be hoping and praying that those final seasons of Wilson’s career take place in a Giants uniform.