One of these days, the Jets will be a seductive green oasis in the desert, a dream destination for anyone who treasures winning over riches.
This, 49 years after Super Bowl III, isn’t one of those days.
Kirk Cousins took a good hard look at the Vikings and said to himself, “Skol!”
The Jets can’t even win at Moneyball.
For the Jets and even the Giants, this starts off not as free agency.
Remember when new Giants GM Dave Gettleman arrived vowing to kick ass and build a wall in front of Eli Manning?
Well, kick-ass guard Andrew Norwell — his guy from the Panthers — was stolen out from under East Rutherford by a gentleman named Tom Coughlin, who threw $66.5 million over five years at him.
What is Plan B? Senio Kelemete? How about re-signing Justin Pugh?
And of course, linebacker Devon Kennard is leaving the Giants for the Lions.
Cousins wanted to win. Took a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal during from the Vikings to become the highest-paid player in the NFL. It appears he won’t even visit beautiful Florham Park, N.J.
And GM Mike Maccagnan is left at the altar, holding that $90 million bag.
It leaves them with a gaping hole at the most important position on the field.
And oh, Case Keenum is heading to Denver.
Plan B: Bring back Josh McCown and let him mentor your Quarterback of the Future.
Cousins telling the Jets to kiss off doesn’t have to mean the end of the world.
It means that Maccagnan has to get this right with the sixth pick of the draft.
Get it as right as he got it wrong with Christian Hackenberg. Which is why he and Todd Bowles are in this predicament.
Maccagnan has a pair of second-round picks and a bag containing 90 million free-agent dollars to build a contender.
And none of if matters if he picks the wrong quarterback.
Or — because these are the Jets — should a treacherous game of musical quarterbacks leave Maccagnan standing without one.
His immediate problem is the Browns, Giants and Broncos all need young quarterbacks and will be drafting in front of him. And the Dolphins are sitting at 11 with Ryan Tannehill. And the Bills, as desperate for a quarterback, just traded up to 12. And the Cardinals are sitting at 15 with Carson Palmer retired.
He should at least try to make the Browns, at the top of the draft, an offer they can’t refuse if there is a quarterback who is the apple of his eye. Or the Giants (gasp) at 2. Or the Colts at 3. Or the Browns at 4.
Look, by no means is Cousins a sure thing. He is the last piece to the Vikings’ Super Bowl puzzle. He should never have been viewed as the franchise quarterback who would carry a franchise to the playoffs. Especially the Jets franchise.
But he would have given them a fighting chance. Would have given them a dose of stability and credibility. He was and is the best option in the market. Nick Foles? Not for a first-round pick and more when you have the sixth pick of the draft.
One of these quarterbacks, maybe two of them, maybe three of them, will succeed. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maccagnan needs to get one he likes. He can’t afford to settle for his Quarterback of the Future just for the sake of showing his fan base that he drafted one.
Maybe this will all turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Maybe Baker Mayfield will be sitting there for the taking and bring all that fire and moxie and leadership to Florham Park. Broadway Baker. Who, say McCown, could teach to be a professional.
Except, when was the last time the Jets got lucky at quarterback? Or at anything?
For the Jets and Giants, welcome to flee agency.