Joe Benigno’s WFAN Departure Leaves Huge Void: A Tribute to One of My Radio Heroes

After 25 years on the airwaves of WFAN, Joe Benigno calls it a career on Friday with his final show.

I will never be able to properly describe the impact that Joe Benigno has had on my life, but I’ll do my best. He has been a major part of my routine for many years. Joe became the WFAN overnight host in 1995. I was an avid listener, but rarely called the station.

That changed in 1998. I started calling Monday-Friday. Most of the callers were regulars. You could name them, and even predict when they would call. We were a family. You know how that goes. Think of a holiday gathering. There are some people that occasionally get on your nerves. Perhaps you make up with them and move past disagreements. Other people annoy you to no end. It was like wrestling. One feud would eventually fizzle out, and another would develop.

I was pretty shy before becoming a regular caller. It was big for my confidence. I felt comfortable. People were often given several minutes. Especially if they could contribute something interesting. I would talk about betting. Maybe antagonize one of the callers. Joke around. Get into basketball and football or baseball. Some people would say I was their favorite caller. Others hated me. You might think getting through was easy at about 2:45 in the morning. Far from it. You could spend an hour or two trying to get through, and then wait a long time on hold. The wait was worth it.

Many people either stayed up to catch the start or woke up early for work. There were also a lot of older people who had retired and would wake up during the show. Having just left my job, I was able to stay up through the overnight and hear Joe’s entire program. He even inspired me to attend CSB (Connecticut School of Broadcasting) so I could land a job in the sports world like he did. Older folks were impressed with somebody who was decades younger than them but knew his sports.

WFAN's DraftKings pitchman Joe Benigno on fantasy football: "I want nothing  to do with it..." | Bob's Blitz

Yes, I was actually a youngster back then. Just 20 years old. I had a great memory, but could look up things on a computer as well. This wasn’t true for everybody before 2000. It also wasn’t that easy to find things back then. There were far fewer sites. Information was pretty limited compared to today, so I mostly went off my general knowledge and memories. 

Lots of people enjoy reality TV. Well, Joe’s show was reality radio. Kind of like a show where different people are crammed together in a house. Like I said, some of us went after each other. People from Canada even listen and call WFAN. Joe tried to fix me up with somebody from Nova Scotia. She talked about betting on sports. We never ended up meeting, but there were times when callers seemed more interested in discussing us than the games and teams.

Joe watched Lennox Lewis fight Mike Tyson with me at my Sportsphone job in 2002. I think my boss was jealous when I eventually told him about it. My former boss and I rarely keep in touch these days. He recently sent a text about Joe. It was the first time he sent me a text in years, with the last one also pertaining to Benigno. 

After nearly a decade of hosting overnights, Joe was promoted to middays in 2004. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Life would not be the same. He now had a partner. There were more guests. Shorter show. Additional commercials. Phone calls from callers were measured in seconds instead of minutes. Overnights were also not the same. Some hosts were better than others, but nobody was Joe. Even today you can hear fans fondly remember his overnight days. Not just the epic rants. It was a show for the callers.

Although the number of times I called Benigno had been drastically reduced, we remained close. Even before leaving overnights, Joe had started to host a Monday night football show with Tony Siragusa at Tiff’s in Pine Brook, NJ. Meeting up with him before the show gave us time to chat off the air. I ended up making it my hangout spot for the next 15 years. Joe’s last time there was probably 2005 or 2006, but his shows there had an indirect impact on me for many years to come.

His popularity continued to grow with the daytime shift, and he made numerous appearances. Some were in Yonkers, but he popped up in various locations. New Jersey. Long Island. I followed him around. A number of callers would show up, but I was his most loyal follower. John from Glen Cove was one of the callers I met. We often joined Joe at Buffalo Wild Wings or Dave and Buster’s. Again, Joe helped me without knowing it. I was getting out and enjoying myself. Meeting new people. Changing and growing as a person. 

Joe And Evan Appear On 'Good Morning Football'

There is talk that Joe might do some part-time work on WFAN in the future. One can only hope. Joe will never understand the impact he has had on people. Especially me. We will treasure whatever time remains. Oh yeah…thanks for including me in your book!

Breaking the Bank: Here’s My New York Jets Free Agency Wish List

With the NFL’s tampering period beginning at noon ET on Monday, look for the Jets to be active with an excess of $80 million in cap space to spend on prized free agents. Remember, nothing can become official until the new league year begins on Wednesday at 4 pm ET.

Jets fans have been waiting for this day for a long time, really since the roster purge began two winters ago, ridding the team of veteran staples like Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, and David Harris.

Expect general manager Mike Maccagnan to be very busy, as I assume we’ll hear about the Jets being “connected to” many of the big names free agents, especially in positions with a major need that should be addressed.

The Jets got off to the right foot on Sunday, acquiring former All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders. Gang Green hasn’t had a mauler like that inside since bringing over Alan Faneca back in 2008.¬†Without further ado, here is who I’d like to see NYJ sign this week.

cut (1)

LeVeon Bell:¬†The 26-year-old made the polarizing decision to sit out the entire 2018 season unless the Steelers met his steep long-term contract demands. Pittsburgh decided to pass with John Conner in the wings. The Jets should be major players for Bell along with the Ravens and Colts, as the former Michigan State Spartan would immediately revolutionize a Jet offense with a dual threat playmaker we haven’t seen since the days of Curtis Martin. I’d expect his contract numbers to be in the ball park of Todd Gurley’s 4/$60 million extension. Other options:¬†Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram

giphy (66).gif

Golden Tate:¬†It’s no secret slot receiver is a huge void on the Jets’ depth chart, along with not having a true No. 1 on the outside. This crop of free agents at WR should allow the Jets to fill the need in the slot and get by with a core of Enunwa, Anderson, and Herndon at TE. Golden Tate fits the bill perfectly, as a veteran who knows how to move the chains efficiently. I could also see the Jets going with a cheaper, younger option as well with Tate turning 31, like Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley, or Jamison Crowder.

giphy (67).gif

Trey Flowers: Maccagnan better do whatever he can to plug the gaping hole at edge rusher, which the Jets have been without really ever since dealing John Abraham to Atlanta over a decade ago. Trey Flowers had an awesome year up in New England, who fittingly opted not to pay the 25-year-old. Flowers became an analytics darling and should earn himself one of the most lucrative contracts cut this week. Other options on the Jets board should include the recently released Justin Houston and Anthony Barr. 

Matt Paradis/Mitch Morse: The Jets quickly realized their grave mistake of signing Spencer Long to play center last free agency, who was eventually benched by the mid-point of the year, as he seemed to botch multiple snaps to Darnold just about every game.

As Jets fans, admittedly, we’ve been a spoiled bunch with Nick Mangold and Kevin Mawae captaining the ship for the better part of my childhood. Maccagnan can right his wrong by going out and paying either of the top centers on the market with the Broncos moving on from¬†Matt Paradis or ex-Chief Mitch Morse.

Image result for bryce callahan

Bryce Callahan:¬†Bryce Callahan might not have been the most well-known player on the vaunted Bears defense, but opposing quarterbacks always had him in mind. Callahan posted one of the best grades as a corner, according to PFF in 2018. With Skrine (thank god) and Claiborne’s departures looking likely, Callahan would fill the void left at slot corner quite nicely, especially with Trumaine Johnson’s struggles on the outside last year. Other options:¬†LaMarcus Joyner, Kevin Johnson, Jason Verrett, Ronald Darby.

 

Breaking: Jets Hire Adam Gase

For what seems like the millionth time, the Jets took a wet, smelly crap all over themselves and their fan base. This time, it was with the hiring of their new head coach. A man who has essentially been Jeff Fisher with a tan is now the man in charge of working with Sam Darnold, the teams 21 year old wunderkind quarterback. Not long ago, he was considered a genius and the architect of an offense that resurrected Peyton Manning’s career in Denver. Now, he has become a laughingstock. A person hated by his own team and fanbase. A guy who alienated his teams best wide receiver for the majority of the season. A guy who even Frank Gore seemed to detest. A guy who didn’t use his teams best running back last season. This is the guy the Jets have hitched their wagon to. Awesome.

There are some positives to the hire. He has experience as a head coach, and he is an offensive guy, two key aspects the Jets were looking for in a new head coach. He’s been behind some incredibly successful offenses before as a coordinator, and he’s done adequately making Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler look like relatively competent QB’s. He’s also coming over from within the division, from a team that has been the Jets’ boogeyman the past few years (spoiler alert: the Jets don’t win many games anyways so everyone is really their boogeyman).

You know what this hire is? It’s the perfect guy to hire, bring you to 8-8, and have your teams logo in the “In The Hunt” graphic during week 16 when you’re 7-8. General Manager Mike Maccagnan gets to say that the team improved and get handed a shiny new contract because of it, and the Jets stay in the 7-9 win spectrum. It’s embarrassing. This is what losing franchises do. While not a lateral move from Todd Bowles, there is zero excitement from the fan base about the hire. The Jets spent last offseason promoting themselves as a young, fun, energetic team. They’re starting this offseason ruining that work. So welcome to being In The Hunt Jets fans, now it’s up to you to determine if being in Football Purgatory is better than being in Football Hell. They might just be one in the same.

Goodbye Todd Bowles, LordTreeSap’s Wishlist for the Next New York Jets Head Coach

I feel like we just overthrew a dictator with Todd Bowles finally being fired as Jets head coach. If you remember, I’d been calling for his bleak regime to come to an end since the 2016 season. After three straight double-digit loss campaigns, CEO Christopher Johnson finally pulled the plug on the Bowles experiment, launching us into the next era of Jets football.

With Darnold boasting the makeup of our first franchise quarterback in the 21st century and a plethora of cap room, the decision as to who will right the ship is one of the most crucial in the turbulent franchise’s history. It’s crazy to think that the Jets have only had one coach (Parcells) to finish his tenure with a winning record (not counting Al Groh’s lone 9-7 season).

The coaching search led by Christopher Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan has already began to heat up with a good mix of big names and bright offensive minds. They have reportedly locked up interviews with Mike McCarthy, Kliff Kingsbury, Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator), Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator), Todd Monken (Buccaneers offensive coordinator), and heaven forbid, Jim Caldwell. (Iowa State’s Matt Campbell denied the Jets’ request)

Here is a list of potential candidates, in no particular order, I’d like to see become the 19th head coach of the New York Jets in 2019.

The Veterans:

Mike McCarthy – If McCarthy wants the job, it’s his. The ex-Packers coach has only agreed to interviews with the Jets and Browns, which is a good sign speaking to the appeal of the NYJ job among the eight openings. McCarthy checks off a lot of the boxes as a savvy offensive minded leader for Sam to the Jets brass. With a Super Bowl victory already under his belt, the Pittsburgh native boats a certain pedigree the Jets organization hasn’t seen since Parcells came to the rescue in 1997, making the 55-year-old an easy sell to the fanbase starving for consistency. Many have compared McCarthy’s second job to Andy Reid going from Philly to the Chiefs earlier in the decade.

See the source image

Adam Gase – I could see some of my fellow Jets fans being surprised at me having this name on the list. I don’t think Gase got a fair shake from Miami, and I’d be open to the idea of having him groom Darnold. Going 23-25 with a playoff appearance navigating the Fins can’t be deemed a total failure, right? Another thing I like about the 40-year-old, he’s played the evil empire known as the New England Patriots tough, taking the last two match ups on his home turf (or shitty grass field for that matter). Sign me up for a Gase change of scenery. He was also 5-1 against the Jets the past three years.

Back to College:

Jim Harbaugh – Big game hunting. After another failed season in Ann Arbor, could Jim Harbaugh be planning his exit from Michigan? It would take a lucrative offer and may cost Maccagnan his job, but whatever Jim wants he gets if he’s willing to don the green and white as Bowles’ successor. Harbaugh would be the perfect personality for NYC, and brings a fresh vigor to the franchise as someone who already had success at the NFL level with mediocre quarterbacks in Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

See the source image

David Shaw – Definitely a long shot, but always worthy of a call. Shaw seems content with staying at his alma mater, rather than testing the NFL waters in the head coaching capacity.

Kliff Kingsbury – A name that’s heated up this week, even though he’s accepted the OC job at USC after being fired by Texas Tech in November. He’s already locked in known interviews with the Jets and Cardinals, as both franchises look to pick his innovative brain when it comes to the new age of offense in the NFL. Kingsbury is helped by having connections with the next generation of stars behind center in Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes. He actually suited up for the Jets as a backup quarterback during the 2005 season. Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, and tight end Chris Herndon have also gave Kingsbury their stamp of approval on Twitter.

At just 39-years-old, he’d probably be better suited as an OC before jumping up the ladder as the top dog of an NFL franchise. Check out the legend with Jessica Simpson below.

See the source image

Hot Shot Coordinators:

Matt LaFleur¬†– Everyone in the NFL is searching for the next Sean McVay or Matt Nagy. LaFleur could be the next name in line. A former college quarterback, the 39-year-old recently served under Kyle Shanahan as his quarterback coach in Atlanta and was Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator last season, before taking the same job in Tennessee. With ties to some of the brightest minds in football, LaFleur makes sense as a name teams are going to want to speak with in the coming weeks.

Jim Bob Cooter – JBC. Who has a better name than Jim Bob Cooter? This guy lives up to his alias after sifting through his Wikipedia page, which sees a DUI charge in college and climbing through a window to get into a woman’s bed in 2009. Charges for the aggravated burglary were later dropped.

See the source image

Back to football, JBC took over the Lions OC job in 2015 at just 31-years-old and survived the regime change from Jim Caldwell to Matt Patricia, but will be back on the market since his contract wouldn’t be renewed for 2019. Another young offensive mind worth talking to, but this would be a tough sell to the fanbase as another risky hire.

Todd Monken – Monken is someone I really wasn’t familiar with until I kept reading about the Jets interest in him. I figured Dirk Koetter was in total control of the Buccaneers offense, but it wasn’t until he gave the keys to Todd and his vertical passing game later into the season, that the team finally flourished with Jameis back under center. He also has some head coaching experience with three years down at Southern Miss, which should be deemed a plus. Monken is cousins with current Army head coach Jeff Monken.

 

 

Jets Preseason Week 1 Recap

Sam Darnold came here to do three things. Be a franchise quarterback, steal your girl (Sharon please come home), and throw touchdowns. After this weekend, he might have done all three.

NFL: New York Jets-Sam Darnold Press Conference
A King

 

 

 

The Good

-You have to start with the quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater was lights out in his two drives of work, going 7/8 for 85 yards and a 16 yard touchdown to Isaiah Crowell, and

 

 

Sam Darnold was everything you could ask for up until they surrounded him with players who will most likely not make the roster, at which point the coaching staff mailed it in to protect him. Darnold had 2 touchdown passes on one drive thanks to one being called back for a borderline offensive interference.

 

 

 

 

Darnold did things that rookies shouldn’t be able to do with ease. He went through progressions, stepped up in the pocket, scrambled but kept his eyes downfield, and he even ran a little. His touchdown was unbelievable in the sense that he could have taken off and settled for a field goal or forced a throw early, but instead he rolled out and that helped receiver Charles Johnson create some space at the goal line to get open (which was also a good read by Johnson to move in the first place). This kid might be something really special.

-The defense pitched a shutout. Regardless of who Atlanta did or did not have on the field (Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones both didn’t suit up), the defense went out there and did it’s job, holding Atlanta to one garbage time first down in the first half. Big offseason acquisition Trumaine Johnson showed great closing speed and Buster Skrine (before his shoulder injury) looked solid in the slot.

-Trenton Cannon: Kick Returner and Running Back. Because of the shutout, we only got to see the kickoff return unit once, where Cannon brought his lone return to the 26 yard line. Not super impressive, but he showed speed and quickness to hit the hole that was given to him. He also had a solid game in the backfield, with 40 yards on 11 carries, the highlight of which was an 11 yard run in the second quarter.

 

Cannon could be a legitimate weapon should the Jets and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates figure out how to incorporate him.

-Nathan Shepherd is a monster. He’s a big body that enables Leo Williams to move to DE, where he can wreak havoc. Shepherd constantly found himself in the backfield and was a menace to block from the beginning. All signs point to him being a huge problem for offensive lines, especially in running situations.

Overall, a lot of positives but not a ton to judge off of until roster cuts come and an increase in playing time for the starters (and to keep an eye on those QB reps).

The Bad

-This might not be necessarily bad, but it has to be said because of the current depth chart. Josh McCown had a bad series (the offense went 3 and out), and though it was not his fault with the exception of throwing the ball short of the sticks on third down, the message is simple. Josh McCown CAN NOT be this teams opening day starter. Teddy Bridgewater showed a great command of the offense, and if he is traded for a draft pick (which seems likely), Sam Darnold must take the reigns. Uncle Josh having a bad series might ultimately wind up being a positive, but he can’t be this teams starter and they need to reduce his first team reps in practice.
-If you can believe it, the Jets still have nobody to rush the passer. They have some solid depth on their defense, but the 3 sacks is misleading and nobody can take a tackle 1-on-1 off the edge. If Khalil Mack is somehow available, you make that call and you do it now. This defense is good and the secondary might even be excellent, but if the quarterback can keep his eyes downfield for 7 seconds under no duress, it won’t matter how good they are.

-The Jets 2017 wide receiver class was either bad or non-existent. I’m a huge believer in Chad Hansen and from what I hear he’s been excellent in practice. But for some reason he sees no snaps on the field during game time when it matters. ArDarius Stewart, however, was way too visible. He had 0 catches on two targets, one of which went through his hands, and the other he ran the wrong route. He also almost prevented a first down by running his route and bumping into Neal Sterling. He showed flashes last year but he has to get this figured out in year 2. The Jets have a deep roster of pass catchers and he could be left behind.

The Ugly

-Trenton Cannon: Punt Returner. The Jets haven’t been a return threat on special teams since Leon Washington and Brad Smith. Cannon showed his flashes in his lone kick return, but muffed two(!) punts, limiting his roster value. Not much more to say other than you just can’t muff two(!!!) punts, especially as a sixth round pick.

 

Prayers Answered: New York Jets Finally Land Their Savior by Selecting Sam Darnold

Last night, something finally went right for our beloved New York Jets franchise. It’s been 50 years since their lone Super Bowl win and this organization has been starved for a franchise quarterback since the days of Joe Namath.

Coming into the draft, I figured the idea of having the chance to draft Darnold at three was a pipedream, but that somehow became a reality. The football gods cast a spell on the Browns who selected Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall and the Giants continued their win-now approach with Penn State RB Saquon Barkley.

That all set the table for the Jets to end the quarterback drought and select a QB in 20-year-old Sam Darnold for the first time since Mark Sanchez also out of USC in 2009. The euphoric moment allowed fans to dream about one day hoisting that elusive Lombardi Trophy.

I want to give GM Mike Maccagnang some credit here as well. He had a plan and executed it perfectly once Kirk Cousins signed with the Vikings. Where are all of the people that were critical of the Jets giving up three 2nd rounders to move up from 6 to 3 and snag the consensus No. 1 QB?

Celebrate the moment my fellow NYJ fans. This could finally be the move that alters the franchise forever. The chance to flip the script on Giants fans and make this our town as they live in the regret of passing on a potential 15-year starter.

You can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Patriots empire in addition to murky futures with Buffalo and Miami, making this possibly the night that truly shifted the narrative of the Jets organization.

There are definitely high expectations and much work is to be done but Darnold actually walks into a great situation to learn and soak in as much as he can in year 1. Jeremy Bates is a bright offensive mind that I hope is around for years to come. A competitive quarterback room with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown will also benefit the USC product. The 38-year-old McCown is a perfect mentor figure to help Darnold progress in the early stages of his career. He even had some fun at his own expense, posting a text message with his daughter¬†who pointed out the fact she’s only a year younger than Sam.

If you’re like me, you’re drowning in Sam Darnold highlights like it’s the newest drug on the planet. The future is bright my friends. No more quarterback jokes from other fans. Our time is coming. I selfishly want the rest of my 20’s to be a fun time for Jets fanatics.

The journey begins. 4/26/2018.

New York Jets Free Agency Wishlist: Crafting the Perfect Off-Season

With the “legal tampering” period beginning yesterday in the NFL, I’m sure it was a busy 24 hours for Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan working the phones, as NYJ boasts by far the most cap space in the league with an excess of $94 million at his disposal.

Last week, I laid out every plan Gang Green should have at quarterback¬†going into 2018 with the obvious first domino to fall in Kirk Cousins. I’m sure the Jets will make a hard run at the 29-year-old QB and hopefully can lock him up to a four or five-year deal with over $100 million in guarantees. It all comes down to the structure of the contract and getting him into the building. If NYJ can lock down a visit I like our chances.

new-york-giants-v-washington-redskins

Obviously, a lot of the off-season plans revolve around Kirk’s future first and this wishlist is dependent on the direction the Jets go at quarterback. With Cousins under center, I would draft Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame and sure up the offensive line. The Jets allowed the sixth-most sacks in the league and this unit needs to be revamped.

As the league year officially begins on Wednesday at 4 P.M. here are who I believe Mike Maccagnan and the Jets should target in the coming days outside of the quarterback position.

Jets Free Agent Wishlist:

Malcolm Butler, 28, Cornerback – New England Patriots

ZestyAliveBudgie-max-1mb.gif

Why It Makes Sense:¬†The Patriots to Jets pipeline continues as Butler could follow great DBs such as Ty Law and Darrelle Revis to suit up for both New England and NYJ. After an ugly ending that still hasn’t been explained in Foxborough, Malcolm should be eager to get back at the Pats twice a year and the Jets give him that opportunity. The West Alabama product can still play as he was tied for 13th in the league in pass breakups. We also boast a huge hole at the cornerback position that hasn’t been filled since Revis departed or his skills really departed him. Other big name CB targets could include Trumaine Johnson and Rashaan Melvin.

Possible Contract: 3 years/ $36 million ($20 million guaranteed)

Allen Robinson, 24, Wide Receiver – Jacksonville Jaguars

allenr.jpg

Why It Makes Sense:¬†A return for Robinson to Duval has been all but ruled out making him an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. Allen should have numerous suitors vying for his services even though he is coming off a torn ACL. At such a young age his best football could still be ahead after a dominant 2015 season. I’ll be interested to see if he lands the long-term deal from a desperate team like the Niners or Bears or chooses to take a “prove it” one-year contract of sorts and do this all again next year.

Possible Contract: 1 year/ $14 million 

**Signed With Chicago Bears – 3 years/ $42 million**

Terrelle Pryor, 28, Wide Receiver – Washington Redskins

pryor2.0.gif

Why It Makes Sense:¬†After notching a 1,000-yard season in Cleveland, Pryor took one of those “prove it” type deals which we mentioned above and putting it kindly, it didn’t work out up in Washington. I’m not jumping ship and a talented player could come in on a low risk move for NYJ. Maybe a change of scenery is all it takes for the 28-year-old and Cousins to connect?

Possible Contract: 2 years/ $13 million 

Weston Richburg, 26, Center – New York Giants

Why It Makes Sense: Newsday is already reporting the Jets are expected to pursue the former Giant early on in free agency. Richburg only turns 27 this year so a multi-year deal to sure up the center position makes sense. There are a plethora of linemen available at the top (Andrew Norwell) of free agency for the Jets to throw money at and it would be stupid to not sign at least one. Weston would come in as an immediate upgrade to Wesley Johnson, who dealt with the impossible task of Nick Mangold last year.

Possible Contract: 3 years/ $17 million

**Signed 5-year deal with San Francisco 49ers**

Dion Lewis, 27, Running back – New England Patriots

3d.0.gif

Why It Makes Sense: Lewis had a great season for the Pats as he was a real difference maker on that offense so taking him away from NE would be a huge get for the Jets. NYJ hasn’t had a home-run hitting RB since Leon Washington broke his leg in 2009. We are in desperate need of one and I’m definitely open to taking Sony Michel, Derrius Guice or Ronald Jones in the earlier part of the draft. If the Jets go the free agency route look for them to consider Lewis, Jerrick McKinnon and Orleans Darkwa.

Possible Contract: 2 years, $9 million

E.J. Gaines, 26, Cornerback – Buffalo Bills

Why It Makes Sense:¬†The Bills did a great job retooling their back end and Tre’Davious White has all the makings of a potential stud. The lesser-known Gaines quietly had an efficient season (13th rated CB on PFF) and could come at a safer price than the big-name corners. Would also look at bringing in former Ram/Bill¬†Nickell Robey-Coleman to play some slot corner as I’m just sick of seeing Buster Skrine committing penalty after penalty.

Possible Contract: 3 years, $22 million

Alex Okafor, 27, Defensive End – New Orleans Saints

Why It Makes Sense:¬†The Jets haven’t had a true pass rusher since John Abraham left over a decade ago. They have tried to plug in veterans such as Jason Taylor and Calvin Pace over the years, but NYJ hasn’t been able to find the guy who is supposed to strike fear into opposing offenses (see Vernon Gholston and Quinton Coples). Okafor definitely has some potential, as he recorded 30 QB pressures in just 10 games in 2017 before his season was ended by an Achilles injury.¬†Aaron Lynch¬†from San Francisco could be an option here at just 25-years-old but hasn’t had a productive full-season since 2015.

Possible Contract: 2 years, $8 million 

Donte Moncrief, 24, Wide Receiver – Indianapolis Colts

Why It Makes Sense:¬†Moncrief makes for a very polarizing prospect and I’m interested to see the type of market he garners. Everyone knows the talent is there, but his numbers haven’t the last couple season just notching 300+ yards in each. If he gets in the right situation he could prove to be a bargain at just 24-years-old. I’m open to rolling the dice on someone like this or Jordan Matthews who is also just 25.

Possible Contract: 2 years, $10 million

Potential UFA Players to Resign:

DeMario Davis, 28, Linebacker 

Why It Makes Sense: DeMario made his return to NYJ in a deal with the Browns and looked to be a completely new player from his first time around. He exuded leadership qualities, while being surrounded by a young defense. PFF has the former third-rounder as the top-graded linebacker available. The Jets should be open to bringing back the high-character Christian man.

Possible Contract: 3 years/ $21 million (13$ million guaranteed)

Morris Claiborne, 28, Cornerback

Why It Makes Sense: The 28-year-old enjoyed a solid first campaign, which had its ups and downs for the Jets as the leader of a secondary full of youth. Mo is definitely an option if the free agent market dries up quickly. The Jets should really sign a higher priced FA and bring Claiborne back on a cheaper contract.

Possible Contract: 2 years/ $12 million

Kony Ealy, 26, Defensive End

Why It Makes Sense: Ealy was a no-risk proposition when the Jets brought him in after the Patriots cut him during the summer. He was definitely inconsistent during the year and really faded down the stretch. I did become fond of his ability to gobble up passes and bat them down. He had to be among the league leaders even in his limited snaps.

Possible Contract: 1 year/ $3 million

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 25, Tight End

Why It Makes Sense:¬†I really enjoyed seeing ASJ turn his life around and become a professional in his first year donning the green and white. He’s a huge body and actually has solid hands. He would’ve had a couple more TDs this year if refs weren’t trying to be heroes and overthink everything. The former Buc will definitely have a solid market so I wish the Jets got this done earlier, but give me some more of the 25-year-old Jenkins to build on his 50-catch campaign.

Possible Contract: 2 years/ $12 million

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying Out Every Option The New York Jets Need to Consider at Quarterback

We’re almost there football fans. In what feels like the longest month since the Eagles defeated the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday, we sit just one week away from when teams can enter into negotiations with potential free agent signings. For Jets fans, this should be an exciting time period with a plethora of cash to spend on high priced players. New York is projected to be nearly $90 million under the salary cap when free agency kicks off on March 12.

No matter who General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles bring in at various positions it will ultimately come down to one decision, the quarterback, which has plagued Gang Green for decades on end. It’s no secret the Jets will be all over Kirk Cousins when free agency begins and he should be our top priority, but it’s no lock we land him. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report stated Monday that Cousins is deciding between the Jets and Vikings, but expects Kirk to don the green and white next season.

If that plan happens to fall through, here are the other options the Jets brass needs to consider to save their jobs.

Option A: Hand Kirk Cousins a Blank Check

cousins-maccagnan

Why it Makes Sense: On the night of the Alex Smith deal Cousins to NY became a legit possibility and I wrote in-depth about why the Jets need to sign Kirk Cousins.  The shortened version is basically how great would it be to go into the next four years and not have to worry about the quarterback position. That feels orgasmic just thinking about it.

Why it Won’t Work:¬†Some Jets fans are hesitant to park the Brinks truck and delegate a boatload of cash and cap space to the 29-year-old. Making the 12th best quarterback in the league the highest paid player in the NFL may not add up to building a championship roster. Should we just attack the draft instead and get “our guy?”

Option B: Draft One in the First Round (Allen, Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield)

Why it Makes Sense:¬†Coming into the 2017 season this had to be their plan A when deconstructing the roster and looking toward the future with an influx of youth. But of course, when you’re the Jets you can’t even tank right. Sitting at #6 makes this a tricky proposition, as we would probably need to strike a deal to move up and nab our QB of choice. It would make sense to draft our own guy and let him grow with a young roster and keep cap flexibility, allowing us to address several needs through free agency.

Why it Won’t Work:¬†Staying at pick #6 could spell disaster for the Jets as there remains a strong possibility that all four quarterbacks are snagged before NYJ is on the clock. The Browns, Giants, and Broncos may all select a new signal caller and don’t rule out a team like the Bills or Cardinals aggressively¬†moving up to supplant the Jets. Also, do you have any faith in this franchise to actually develop a quarterback? I surely don’t after seeing the development or lack thereof from Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.

Option C: Sign Teddy Bridgewater and Draft a QB

hi-res-e30e4637855b7e01eaa775f26346a257_crop_north

Why it Makes Sense:¬†If Teddy B gets a clean bill of health he should be high in demand come next week. At only 25-years-old Bridgewater deserves another shot to get this right. His numbers weren’t spectacular but in 28 starts from age 22 to 23 he went 17-11. His contract would come cheap and probably be heavily incentive-based. Definitely worth a roll of the dice for the Jets if they strike out¬†on Cousins.

Why it Won’t Work:¬†There’s a chance Bridgewater isn’t the same quarterback he was prior to the devastating knee injury. It’s also been nearly three years since he’s started a game.

Option D: Sign Tyrod Taylor if Cut by the Bills

hhhf.gif

Why it Makes Sense:¬†I’m personally a fan of Tyrod and his ability to take care of the football and throw the deep ball, as well as his running tendencies. The Bills did Taylor dirty when benching him for Peterman, but what do you expect it’s the fucking Buffalo Bills. He also ended their 18-year playoff drought with a lack of surrounding weapons on the outside and THEY STILL WANT TO CUT HIM. The Jets could definitely do worse than Tyrod and he’s only 28. T-Mobile also has the No. 1 suit game in the league.

Why it Won’t Work:¬†Tyrod probably isn’t a franchise guy and signing him as a stop-gap just delays the inevitability of still searching for the QB of the future with Taylor on the roster. In a passing league, he just doesn’t make enough plays in the air to win the big game.

Option E: Sign A.J. McCarron Away From the Bengals (Restricted FA)

(Whenever I hear A.J. McCarron’s name I think of this video. Miss you Brent)

Why it Makes Sense:¬†McCarron has the pedigree and definitely looks the part to be worth a roll of the dice for the Jets if they miss out on the big names. I’m not sure how much money A.J. would command, but some in the league believe he could be a starter if given his fair shot, after sitting behind Dalton the last four seasons.

Why it Won’t Work:¬†He’s only started 4 games in his career and didn’t blow anyone away with his talent to the point you’d want to make a large financial investment on his behalf. Stuff like this also never ends up working out for the Jets.

Option F: Sign Stop Gap Veteran – Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Sam Bradford

Why it Makes Sense:¬†This situation means the Jets struck out largely in the QB market in March and chose to be prudent with their FA money. Bringing back McCown and drafting a quarterback wouldn’t be the worst move by the Jets and really puts them in position to make an aggressive play come draft time.

Why it Won’t Work:¬†See the rest of these guys’ careers? Yeah, that’s not going to get better donning the green and white.

Be on the lookout for my official New York Jets free agency preview article next week as I break down who Gang Green should be interested in around the league.