Quarterback is the most important position on the football field, and if the 2016 NFL season started this Sunday, the starter for the New York Jets would be Geno Smith.
I’m sorry, Jets fans. I kind of chuckled there typing that graph. The Jets quarterback depth chart, as it stands today, looks like this: the aforementioned Smith and second-year backup Bryce Petty. Yikes.
It is important to note that last year’s starter and over-achiever Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently a free agent. The Jets and Fitzpatrick still appear far apart on a new deal. The Jets sit at just over $700,000 in cap space, which is good for lowest in the league. Hypothetically, the Jets currently can’t afford any more ‘Fitzmagic.’
I say hypothetically for a couple of reasons. No NFL contracts are guaranteed in money and the Jets could easily maneuver some dough around to bring Fitzpatrick back for another go. But as it stands, the Jets are in a pretty tough spot.
Why? Two words.
Yep. The all-world cornerback, and he is an all-world cornerback—I’m not denying that one bit—is holding the Jets back from being a complete football team with his contract.
When Revis ditched the New England Patriots—my New En- gland Patriots—last offseason to head back home to New York, I was pissed…especially after what he helped the team accomplish. I was the loudest one calling for Bill Belichick to pay the guy whatever he wanted, because after a 10-year drought of not winning the big one, why wouldn’t the Pats keep their best defensive player, someone who was a difference-maker for their secondary?
But I was wrong, and thank goodness I was.
Instead of re-upping with New England, Revis signed a five-year, $70 million contract in New York, with nearly $40 million of that guaranteed. Yikes. Revis made $16 million in 2015 and will earn another $17 million in 2016, with an equal number in terms of cap hit, which is highest on the Jets’ roster. Silly money.
I have a serious question for Jets fans: Is it worth it?
Is it worth paying a guy all that money when now it is affecting your team’s quarterback situation?
I mean, having that all-world corner helps. Just ask the 2013 Seahawks and the 2014 Patriots. But is it a necessity to winning the Super Bowl, or let alone make the playoffs? No.
The 2009 Saints’ No. 1 corner was Tracy Porter. The 2010 Packers? Thirty-four-year-old Charles Woodson. The 2011 Giants? Corey Webster. The 2012 Ravens? Cary Williams.
The common themes with those teams were the quarterback situations.
The quarterbacks on those teams were Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick on that level? No, but in his defense…he isn’t asked to be. He doesn’t have to be.
The Jets defense is solid, but it’s not 2015 Broncos good. And it certainly won’t be after losing key players this offseason, as well as Revis getting another year older. I don’t think the Jets are winning anything with Fitzpatrick under center, but I know they’re not winning anything with Smith or Petty.
Strapped for cash, the Jets need help to stop the quarterback carousel that has been rotating since Chad Pennington.
What happens if Andrew Luck decides next season he doesn’t want to extend his contract in Indy? What happens if Brees and the Saints eventually part ways? How are the Jets going to pony up and pay those kinds of guys?
Bringing back Revis needed to happen in the fan base’s eyes, but I can tell you now that the ramifications of that monster contract are being felt now.
David Heim is a senior journalism major from Roselle Park, N.J. He can be reached at david.heim@ student.shu.edu or on Twitter @davidheim12.