Esposito: Jets Shouldn’t Trade Bridgewater

As it becomes more and more certain the Jets plan on giving Sam Darnold the keys to the “jet,” literally, to start the season, there has been talk both in the media and occasionally from fans that they should trade their “second” best quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, to get some sort of draft choice or possibly even another need on the defensive line, or something like that.

No thank you.

Why is it that as soon as some fans acknowledge a position of strength on a needy team, they immediately want to get rid of that guy under the perception they can improve the team overall? It’s what led to all that talk the Mets should trade Jacob deGrom, even though he is one of the best pitchers on the planet at the moment.

Good thing for Mets fans and the team’s future that concept didn’t get past the talk show chow hounds and beat writers who tossed the thought around. The Mets’ triumvirate of GMs perhaps even entertained some offers but they asked for the Moon and stars, and then a Universe to be named later, and properly so, hence Jake is still a Citi citizen.

All you need do is look at the Chicago White Sox, who traded two of their best pitchers (see Chris Sale and Jose Quintana) in recent years for prospects, and let’s see, how’s that working out for them? Hmm, 30 games under .500 in the weakest division in the game. Nice going, Chicago!

The Jets are now in the envious position of having not one, or two, but three viable considerations at quarterback, obviously the most important position on the football field, and some say, the most critical position in all of team sports, although many pitchers, maybe even a few goalies, might counter that.

The depth chart lists veteran incumbent Josh McCown at the top, and for good reason. His experience and leadership can always be counted on, and he did engineer a 5-11 record last season when just about every gridiron prognosticator projected an even more miserable outcome. Some said they wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets went 0-16.

No, that embarrassing achievement was reserved for the Browns!

It’s a little odd that just 5-11 was praised and not admonished, but it did lead to a position where the Jets could trade up and take the third pick in the draft. And look who was still available, Mr. Sam Darnold!

Darnold has impressed everyone – Jets management, football analysts, and the fans with his showings in camp and in the first two preseason games. And it does appear the Jets are leaning on letting him start the third warmup against the rival Giants this Friday, traditionally the game when QB1 gets the reins for most of the exhibition.

Bridgewater also has been impressive. He’s a living, walking miracle after virtually destroying his left leg prior to the 2016 season. Teddy tore his ACL and horribly dislocated his left knee in a drill that left teammates and coaches fearing if he’d even lose the leg.

It’s as rare as the dodo bird when the Jets can bank a wealth of quarterback choices, so why weaken this all-important strength. The NFL season is an endurance with attrition, as even the mighty can be felled by season-ending injuries.

What usually happens when an NFL club loses its starting quarterback early in the season? Or virtually at any point in the campaign? They start wondering how high of a draft pick they can secure the following spring.

Examples are many, including more than a handful just last year.

The Texans lost DeShaun Watson when he tore his ACL in a non-contact drill last October and was lost for the season. Houston finished the year 4-12.

The Cardinals lost Carson Palmer when he broke his left arm against the Rams last Oct. 22. Arizona finished 8-8.

The Packers lost Aaron Rodgers when he broke his collarbone vs. the Vikings last Oct. 25. Green Bay finished 7-9.

Andrew Luck had surgery in January of 2017 and still had not recovered well enough to run the Colts last year. Indianapolis finished 4-12.

Ryan Tannehill missed the final four games of the 2017 season with two sprained ligaments in his knee, and the Dolphins finished 6-10. Well, after all, they are the Dolphins, so maybe Tannehill wouldn’t have made a difference. But he was their starter.

And longtime Jets fans still wince at the memory when Vinny Testaverde, fresh off a 1998 season where he led the club to the AFC Championship game, was lost for the ‘99 season from Day One when he ruptured his achilles tendon and it was bye-bye to any thought of a repeat appearance in the big game before the Big Game.

So why on Earth would the Jets even consider trading Bridgewater when he could…1: be the starter from Game One; 2: be a reliable backup ready to jump in and win games when the need arises (after all, he’s already been to the Pro Bowl, and he’s just 25!), or 3: along with McCown, help transition Darnold to the rigors of the NFL.

Jets GM Mike Macagnan was asked on Boomer & Gio’s WFAN program about the possibility this week in a question masked by asking if he was prepared to carry two or three signal callers. He couched his answer by leaving all options open.

“We can very easily keep three quarterbacks and, if something were to arise, we can go to two. In terms of saying, hey, we’re going to keep two, or keep three, there’s nothing to stop us from keeping three. There’s nothing to stop us from keeping two. We feel very good about the quarterback room.”

Evasive? Yes. A real politician, that Macagnan. But then again, all GMs are reluctant to show their hand until the time comes to call.

It’s your call, Mac. But it’s a long season, when every game, and even every practice carries the potential to end up on injured reserve.

In this case, in this fan’s opinion, the magic number to get to 16, rather, to get through 16, is 3.


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