Player: Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
2013 salary: $865,000.
Sign him up: McCown, who turns 36 in July, is the quintessential journeyman. He has played for five teams, and it looks like it will be six because his mid-30s renaissance last season probably priced him out of the Bears' budget for a backup. In terms of role acceptance, he would be a good fit for the Jets because he would push Geno Smith in a non-threatening way -- if that is what they're looking for. He would be David Garrard, sans the chronic knee condition. At this point in his career, McCown knows he won't be handed a starting job. He won't come cheaply; quarterbacks of McCown's ilk can cost a team about $4 million for the first year.
Reasons to stay away: His magical, five-game run last season screams "aberration!" McCown was a mediocre quarterback his entire career, finally finding something special under quarterback guru Marc Trestman. It also helped that he had a couple of stud receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery; he wouldn't have that luxury with the Jets, that's for sure. McCown will parlay his right-time, right-place season into a relatively big payday, but it will be hard to duplicate last season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars are possible suitors.
Watkins is Ryan's second-favorite receiver at Clemson. As many of you know, Ryan's son, Seth, is a receiver for the Tigers. The Jets' coach told the Associated Press that he would like to add a receiver (what a revelation!) and that he likes Watkins a whole lot.
"But there's no way he'll be there" when the Jets pick, Ryan said. He's right; there's no chance he'll fall to them at No. 18.
Clemson has another intriguing wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, who is 6-foot-5 and projects as a third-round possibility, according to some. The Jets' contingent also got a good look at quarterback Tajh Boyd, a late-round projection.
About 60 NFL types were in attendance, but Ryan and the Detroit Lions' Jim Caldwell were the only head coaches, according to AP.
Lee was off the board for the Jets in McShay's previous mock draft (he had them taking Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks), but this time there's a run on defensive players from the 13th pick to the 17th, allowing Lee to fall. In this scenario, he'd be the third receiver selected, behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins (Oakland Raiders, No. 5) and Texas A&M's Mike Evans (Detroit Lions, No. 10). Interestingly, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron still is there for the Jets, which would make for an interesting choice. Obviously, the decision could be based on how they address those needs in free agency.
If the Jets take Lee, they'd be looking past his disappointing 2013 season, betting that his 2012 performance (he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver) is a better gauge of his talent. A similar situation unfolded in 2012. Defensive lineman Quinton Coples was a beast at North Carolina in 2010, but slipped the following year for a variety of reasons. He became a human pinata before the draft, with critics taking shots at him. The Jets chose him 16th overall. How's it working out? Too soon to say. Coples' physical talent is undeniable, but he has given credence to some of the pre-draft concerns by displaying a lukewarm motor at times. Lee's work ethic is said to be outstanding.
For a team picking 18th overall, the Jets sure have a lot of needs right now. That is a testament to the job coach Rex Ryan did with a limited talent base and an erratic rookie quarterback in Geno Smith.
This is another roster that will look much different on draft day than it does right now, but the only positions I can't see New York considering with this pick are quarterback, running back, center, left tackle and the defensive line. There is still much rebuilding to be done, but with the extreme strength of this draft, the Jets should find a very useful piece with the 18th pick.
Whom does McShay have the Jets drafting at No. 18? ? Let's take a look:
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
2013 stats: Started six games (2-4) before getting hurt and losing his job to Nick Foles. Completed 77 ot 141 passes (54.6 percent) for 1,215 yards, with five touchdowns, three interceptions and a 86.5 passer rating. Played in 325 offensive snaps (29.4 percent).
2013 salary: $4.0 million.
Sign him up: Even though he turns 34 in June, Vick will be the top quarterback on the free-agent market and the Jets need a veteran to challenge/back up/mentor Geno Smith. Vick's play has declined over the last three years and there are questions about his durability, but he still has the raw skills (not to mention the familiarity with Marty Mornhinweg's system) to fit in well with the Jets. In the Jets' ideal scenario, he'd come in and push Smith, serving as Geno insurance if the second-year quarterback falters. There's always the chance he'd beat out Smith in training camp. If that happens, so be it. Vick wouldn't come cheaply (at least $4 million for 2014), but the Jets can't afford not to have a quarterback of Vick's ilk. They suffered last season without an experienced alternative that could've replaced Smith when he slumped in November.
Reasons to stay away: With a touchdown-interception ratio of 35-27 and a starting record of 12-17 over the past three seasons, Vick has slipped to statistical mediocrity. There's also the question of whether he'd be receptive to the Jets' potentially muddled situation. He'd have to be on board with the entire dynamic.
Lankster is an underrated signing. In fact, he was ranked No. 6 on our list of the team's 16 unrestricted free agents. He didn't play much cornerback last season (only 29 snaps), but he was a core special teamer, finishing second on the team with 20 tackles. The Jets were concerned that he'd draw interest on the open market, so they made a preemptive strike.
Walls is coming off a weird year. He played a fair amount of football (three starts and a total of 289 snaps), starting opposite Cromartie whenever rookie Dee Milliner was in the doghouse. But when Milliner was in the lineup, Walls was the forgotten man. The Jets rarely used more than three corners in any package, so it turned into an all-or-nothing situation for Walls, who finished with no interceptions and four pass breakups.
Rex Ryan has plenty of bodies at corner, but he'll have a gaping hole if they cut Cromartie. Aside from Milliner, none of the others are starting-caliber players.
With Antonio Cromartie's future uncertain, it makes sense to stockpile corners, although Patrick is primarily a slot corner in the nickel package. In 13 games last season (four starts), he played 474 defensive snaps (48 percent). He recorded one interception, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two pass break ups.
Patrick, 25, was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2011. The former Louisville standout lasted only two seasons in New Orleans. He was waived last February and scooped up immediately by the Chargers. Patrick has suffered multiple concussions and was placed on injured reserve late last season with an ankle injury.
The Chargers are rebuilding at cornerback and didn't see Patrick as part of their future, cutting him Tuesday. The Jets' top three corners (Cromartie, Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson) are under contract, but Cromartie has a $15 million cap charge and likely will be released if he doesn't take a pay cut. Beyond the top three, their depth is sketchy.
Player: Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Stats: Caught 56 passes for 896 yards and no touchdowns. Despite the disappointing totals, he averaged 16.0 yards per reception, tied for 10th in the NFL. On the downside, he dropped seven passes. He played in 833 offensive snaps (81.2 percent), more than fellow receiver Victor Cruz. No player in the league caught more passes without a touchdown.
Salary: $2.675 million.
Sign him up: Some teams will look past his poor 2013 production and see the big picture: He's only 26 years old, already has two 1,000-yard seasons and still has the ability to be a legitimate No. 1 receiver when healthy and motivated. The Jets have an obvious need at the position. Nicks has a need, too -- the desire to show teams he's better than the receiver that was blamed for so many of the Giants' offensive problems last season. A free agent with a chip on his shoulder can be worth more than his price tag. Nicks is too risky for a long-term deal, but he could thrive on a short-term, prove-it contract.
Reasons to stay away: Knee issues aside, there were times last season when Nicks didn't seem motivated. That should raise a red flag. What kind of player, in a contract year, slacks off? The whole story probably isn't known, but it has to give teams pause before pursuing him. After four seasons of Santonio Holmes, the Jets should be leery of divas at the wide-receiver position.
Is the front office committed to Geno Smith? Does it try to build around him by buying skill-position talent in the free-agent market? Does it use the draft to upgrade the moribund offense? What about the defense? Yeah, the Jets finished 11th in total defense, a unit that always will be respectable under Rex Ryan, but shouldn't they add an edge rusher and beef up the secondary? Second-year general manager John Idzik has the resources to make plenty of moves, but prioritizing is the key.
This is a collaborative blueprint for the offseason , compiled by various ESPN insiders.
Position: Wide receiver
2013 stats: 67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns -- all career highs. He averaged only 11.0 yards per catch, a career low. He played in 796 offensive snaps (75.7 percent).
2013 salary: $2.5 million.
Sign him up: The New England Patriots thought enough of Sanders last year to sign him to an offer sheet. They would've surrendered a third-round pick, but the Steelers decided to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer. Sanders responded with his best year, which included a long touchdown reception against the Jets -- a play in which he torched Antonio Cromartie. He had only two drops last season out of 112 targets, per ESPN Stats & Info -- one of the lowest drop percentages in the league. Obviously, the Jets need help at the position. Sanders is an ascending player (he turns 27 on March 17), although some believe he's already close to his ceiling.
Reasons to stay away: Sanders might have been a fit for the Patriots, who like smallish, slot receiver types, but the Jets already have a Sanders-like player in Jeremy Kerley. Sanders is steady, but his stats -- everything from yards after catch to catch percentage -- were no better than the league averages last season. He'd upgrade the receiving corps from a depth perspective, but for at least $5 million a year (the going rate for a wideout of his ilk), you expect better than average.
It should take a hard look at changing the philosophy now that Jairus Byrd appears headed for the open market.
Byrd will demand serious coin -- he reportedly rejected a deal that would have paid him $30 million for the first three years -- but he's so good that the Jets should investigate. Byrd is a younger version of Ed Reed, sans the dynamic return ability. He's a ball hawk with uncanny instincts, a presence in the deep middle. The Jets like to play a lot of single-high safety looks, and Byrd would be a terrific scheme fit. Their problems against the deep ball would disappear with him patrolling center field.
Obviously, the Jets are doing something right on defense (five straight years in the top 11), but they've done so with a glaring lack of production at safety. Since 2009, the Jets' safeties have combined for only 16 interceptions. (We're not including six by Dwight Lowery, a safety/cornerback hybrid who played mostly in sub packages.) Since 2009, when Byrd entered the league as a second-round pick, the soon-to-be-former Bills star has 22 interceptions. By the way, that includes six against the Jets.
So will the Jets pursue Byrd? My gut tells me no. It sounds like they will entrust the position again to Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen & Co., perhaps adding a player in the draft. Clearly, they have bigger needs on offense, but they have enough salary-cap room to plug those needs and make a big splurge on defense. Maybe a look at the list below will change their mind.
Safety interceptions since 2009:
Ed Reed, Eric Smith, Kerry Rhodes -- 3 apiece
LaRon Landry, Jim Leonhard -- 2 apiece
Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen, Brodney Pool -- 1 apiece
TAMPA, Fla. -- Broadway Joe became a Bronx Bomber for a day.
Wearing a full No. 12 uniform from stirrups to hat, Joe Namath laughed and smiled as he hung out with Derek Jeter and Reggie Jackson and served as Joe Girardi's "co-manager" for the New York Yankees' game against the Washington Nationals at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Monday.
The 70-year-old Namath threw out the first pitch -- a soft strike from just in front of the mound to a crouching Jeter -- and then told reporters that there is no comparison between his NFL career and that of the Yankees shortstop, who will retire after this season.
"Knowing the scrutiny that he's had over the years, I can't imagine how the guy could be an angel like this," Namath said. "He is to be respected for every phase of his life. Many of us fell short with some of that, but we learned to bounce back.
"It is human to err ... and I know about that. We do our best to come back. Derek hasn't made many errors that I've been able to witness."
Namath spent batting practice sitting behind the cage with Girardi before accompanying the Yankees manager to take out the lineup. He then sat with him in the dugout.
"I'm a baseball fan," Namath said. "I'm a Yankee fan. I'm a people fan. So, yeah, this is very special, and it brought back some memories too, sitting down there."
When Jeter arrived at his locker after pregame warm-ups, he called Jackson over to talk. Just before Jackson made it there, the media crowded around to ask about Namath. Jackson said that Jeter never talks.
"I always talk," Jeter said playfully. "I just don't stir s--- up like you."
Retorted Jackson: "Now you're banging on the all-time greats? Should I bring Namath in too?"
Position: Wide receiver
2013 stats: 64 receptions, 898 yards, 14.0 average and five touchdowns. Also returned 51 punts for 585 yards, an 11.5 average. Played in 762 of the offensive snaps (75.3 percent).
2013 salary: $630,000.
Sign him up: There's a glaring need at the position and general manager John Idzik has intimate knowledge of Tate from his days as a Seattle executive. Tate, who turns 26 in August, is entering the prime of his career. His receiving stats don't jump off the page because he has played in a run-heavy offense, but they've improved each year. He led the league in yards after catch per reception (7.75), according to ESPN Stats -- a dimension missing from the Jets' offense. He's not afraid to block and he's good in the locker room. They need leadership in the wide receiver room.
Reasons to stay away: If Riley Cooper can land a $5 million-a-year deal from the Philadelphia Eagles, it means Tate will be looking for a deal significantly north of that figure. Anything more than $6 million a year would be a lot for a No. 2 receiver.
On Richardson offering advice as he prepares for the draft: "Sheldon has been great. He's been kind of a big brother, [a] mentor to me, just trying to help me through this process, not knowing what to expect, giving me valid points and telling me to do what I do, what I've been doing since I was young. And that's being athletic, being a freak."
On whether he's inspired by Richardson's performance as a rookie: "Of course, you know, I have the confidence. I know I can go into the NFL and play right away. It's just a matter of getting the plays and learning the playbook, and when I do that, I'm going to be explosive."
On what Richardson has shared about life in the NFL: "He says it's lavish, which means lovely."
Describe Michael Sam as a person: "A loving brother, he's caring to the team. He's always singing, which gets on my nerves sometimes, but other than that, he's just fun to be around, fun to play with. I know at the end of the day he's gonna do his job. No other guy I'd rather go to war with."
A current NFL player you pattern youself after: "I compare myself to Aldon [Smith, another ex-Tiger]. He's a freak athlete. He gets off the ball. He probably had a little more sacks than me in college in my career. And J.J. Watt when it comes to pass deflections."