- Craig Gorbunoff
The New York Jets Second Chance at Matthew Stafford
In 2009, the New York Jets were coming off of a season in which they went 9-7, missed the playoffs, and had a one-year fling with Quarterback Brett Favre. Favre after the regular season had decided to retire (and then later come back with the Minnesota Vikings) leaving this team in a bit of limbo without a quarterback. The quarterbacks in that draft class looked very promising. There was the Georgia product Matthew Stafford, a consensus number 1 overall prospect. There was the USC one-year wonder Mark Sanchez, who appeared to have a ton of upside and a promising career ahead of him. And then there was Kansas State Quarterback Josh Freeman, who had all the measurables that went into being a pro quarterback. The Jets were sitting at the 17th overall pick, and it seemed likely that Josh Freeman would wind up their quarterback. However, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum decided to take a gamble and trade up to the 5th overall pick.
The Jets traded DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff, and DB Abram Elam as well as swapped 1st round picks and gave an additional second round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Mark Sanchez. Matthew Stafford was drafted number 1 overall by the Detroit lions, and later on at pick 17, the Buccaneers took Josh Freeman. 6 years later, things are looking incredibly different. Mark Sanchez is now a backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Josh Freeman is playing with the Brooklyn Bolts, a fall experimental league that was established in 2014. Matthew Stafford is still with the Detroit Lions, however today, it was reported by Ian Rappaport that his status with the team past 2015 is very much in doubt. Could the New York Jets possibly have a second chance of landing a franchise quarterback?
Matthew Stafford’s first two seasons weren’t exactly great. In fact, Mark Sanchez in those first two seasons had far more success leading the New York Jets to two back-to-back AFC Championships. Stafford started a total of 13 games during this time having hurt his shoulder in 2010. He threw for a combined 19 td’s, 21 int’s and a total of 2802 yards. It was the 2011 season where Matthew Stafford cemented himself as a franchise Quarterback. In that season he threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He’s had at least 4,000 yards between 2011 and 2014. Now this season, the Lions as a whole have struggled, it’s incredibly unfair to blame it all on Matthew Stafford.
The Jets have been struggling to find a quality Quarterback really since Chad Pennington. With Stafford’s impending free agency and the team’s apparent remodel he could be the answer to the Jets prayers and the Quarterback that they’ve been looking for. Stafford was signed prior to the Rookie Cap, and received a 6 year 41.7 million dollar contract. One wonders what his price tag will be coming from a struggling team and essentially being kicked out of Detroit. The Jets seemingly have to pay Muhammad Wilkerson and Chris Ivory this upcoming offseason. Personally, I would be comfortable letting Mo’ walk if it meant being able to sign Stafford.
Franchise quarterbacks are one of the hardest things to find in the NFL, and while the Lions haven’t been the most successful team over the past few years. However, I believe most of those struggles have come from a lack of a run game, a weak secondary, and a weak offensive line. This lack of a personnel has been the main factor in the firing of former Lions GM Martin Mayhew as well as team President Tom Leward. While the New York Jets aren’t perfect, on paper they have a complete roster with the exception of quarterback. Matthew Stafford this offseason should give the Jets everything they need to become a force in the AFC.