Well … you didn’t see that one coming.
Less than 24 hours before the NFL’s trade deadline, the 49ers and Patriots agreed to terms on a blockbuster deal. New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is headed to the Bay Area in exchange for a second-round pick.
This season, that deal impacts the Jets none. They don’t play the 49ers, and whatever player New England ends up selecting with that pick isn’t on the team this year.
But in 2018 … there may be just a little bit of a ripple effect.
Let’s break it down:
THE CHASE FOR KIRK COUSINS: The 49ers were, up until Monday, considered the most likely landing spot for soon-to-be free agent Kirk Cousins. If the Redskins elected not to re-sign him, he’d make his way across the country and reunite with his old offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who’s now the 49ers head coach.
Obviously, that’s not going to happen anymore. The 49ers have their quarterback of the future. So does that mean Cousins is ripe for the Jets’ picking?
Potentially, yes. If Cousins hits the open market, the Jets are suddenly an appealing option. They’ve got the money (an estimated $63 million in cap space) to sign him, and offensive coordinator John Morton’s west-coast scheme is a tailor-made fit. With that said, now more than ever, I question the likelihood Cousins leaves Washington.
The Redskins don’t have an in-house replacement for him. At (3-4), they aren’t bad enough to land one of the top two picks in the draft and take Sam Darnold (USC) or Josh Rosen (UCLA). They don’t have the pieces on the roster to trade their way up, without completely mortgaging their future.
Cousins is in the midst of another good season. In his last 39 games, he has thrown for 10,983 yards with 67 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. He has a cumulative quarterback rating of 100, and a completion percentage of 68.3.
Why would the Redskins let him walk for free? They can’t not re-sign him to the deal he wants.
I wonder if San Francisco realized this. You don’t make the deal for Garoppolo (a player with two career starts) unless you know you don’t have any chance of landing Cousins (a proven franchise quarterback).
THE NFL DRAFT: Here’s where the deal, in my opinion, has the most impact on the Jets. Their odds of landing Darnold or Rosen just shot way up. Both organically, or with a trade.
The 49ers (0-8) are considered one of the worst teams in the league. Maybe the only worse is the Cleveland Browns (0-8). Before this trade, the two figured, come the draft, to have the top two selections. While Garoppolo may not start when the 49ers host the Cardinals this Sunday, he’ll certainly be in the lineup against the Giants in Week 10.
Garoppolo — assuming he’s as good as hyped — will lead San Francisco to some wins. Their remaining schedule is hardly daunting. The Giants are 1-6. The Bears (3-5), Jaguars (4-3), Titans (4-3) aren’t unwinnable games, either.
If the 49ers start to win, and the Jets (3-5) keep losing, New York could replace them near the top of the draft.
If Garoppolo isn’t able to overcome San Francisco’s roster deficiencies, the Jets are still in a good position. Now that the 49ers have their quarterback, they’ll look to surround him with talent. They’ll want as many draft picks to do that as possible.
If, come the end of the season, the 49ers are still picking No. 1 or No. 2, they’ll likely be willing to move down. The Jets could then move up. They’ve got their first-round pick this year to deal, two second-round picks, and all their 2019 picks. That’s more than enough to get the job done.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Before this deal, the Jets seemed destined to remain in quarterback purgatory. That’s not the case anymore.
Maybe it’s Kirk Cousins in free agency? Maybe a draft-day trade to move up and snag Darnold or Rosen?
Either way, there’s hope.
In what looks like another lost season, is there anything more fans can ask for?
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