By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
In late August of 2018, the Jets made a legitimate offer for then-Oakland pass rusher Khalil Mack.
According to local published reports, the Jets were willing to offer their 2019 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick. The Raiders won Mack with a 2019 first- and sixth-round pick along with a 2020 second- and fifth-round.
When you look at it now with the state of the Jets, that would have been disastrous for them.
Mack does have 30 sacks in three years in Chicago, and the Jets were spinning their wheels in 2018. Even with a 5-11 record the previous season, it looked like a good idea.
The Jets needed a premier pass rusher. Mack might have been able to turn the tide.
Nearly three years later, the Jets still need a premier pass rusher.
Newly minted free agent J.J. Watt can come here at the right price. No draft picks, just a reasonable deal.
Before his release from the Texans, Watt was scheduled to make $17.5 million this year, the last season of a six-year deal. He likely will be looking for anywhere from $12 to $20 million depending on the length of the pact.
The Jets will have approximately $73 million in cap space for next season, and could add Watt with a ballpark figure around $17 million, even though he only had five sacks in 2020. Watt had 16 sacks in 2018 after four in his only eight games in 2019.
Financially, it is a big hit. In the Jets’ Xanadu, it is the perfect fit.
Safety and captain Marcus Maye is a priority to sign in the off season, and that deal could stand in the way. If they could co-exist in the cap world, GM Joe Douglas still would have some creative cap maneuvers ahead to complete the remainder of the cast.
The 31-year-old Watt wouldn’t join a team that wasn’t playoff ready like the Steelers — united with his brother — Packers, 49ers, Cowboys, Patriots, Bears and even the Buccaneers. It is now the fashionable thing to play with Tom Brady, not Bill Bellichick.
However, Watt can bring leadership, experience, and a winning mentality that could help mold a defense that isn’t that far away. Even though he played with a dysfunctional team with a low-energy 41-2 campaign last season, Watt can be re-energized with the Jets.
Pro Football Focus has him ranked seventh as an overall edge rusher, better with his run defense than his pass rush. They also see him as one of the better ones dealing with a double team, a factor he would certainly face with the Jets.
Remember, new head coach Robert Saleh is a defensive guru.
The Jets have plenty of holes to fill, and Watt looms more as a luxury than necessity.
Still, he is an impact player with plenty in his tank, who has the potential to quickly change the landscape.
It is tempting or is it logical? Douglas and Jets’ fans already have kicked around that question about Deshaun Watson.
Now it’s Watt, and it doesn’t get easier.