Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
March is well known for March Madness, the time of year when college basketball crams as many exciting games into a few weeks and the fun kind of madness ensues. But with the new league year beginning in the NFL, there is an entirely different kind of madness, and it’s not the fun kind. Teams are in the process of wheeling and dealing, seeking out free agents and trade partners, while also scouting for the draft and considering what players to re-sign. These negotiations and decisions often seem to defy common sense, and frustrate fanbases that are starving for more football.
Buccaneers fans are certainly a bit frustrated to see all of the top shelf free agent cornerbacks get snatched up by other teams. They’re also miffed that defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Roy Miller were allowed to walk, and sign on with rivals at discount prices. But the true madness, the true insanity of this offseason is the inability of the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make a deal for Darrelle Revis.
Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
First, let’s consider the Jets’ situation. A team devoid of talent, rebuilding after riding a strong defense and competent offense to a couple of years worth of moderate success. They currently have very little skill on offense, and an aging defense led by a star player coming off a major injury. Oh, and that player isn’t going to re-sign and is in the midst of trade talks. So it is safe to say the Jets need young, dynamic talent, specifically at the quarterback position and on defense.
Then let’s consider the Buccaneers situation. They’re a team that has shown drastic improvement over the past two seasons, with a coaching change bringing about a new focus and style. A record setting offense was drowned out by a horrendous pass defense, and the Buccaneers are on the lookout for star power in the defensive backfield. They have question marks at quarterback and defensive line, but likely could survive by upgrading pass defense and hoping from an emergence from their current quarterback.
One team needs a quarterback, and has a corner they’re looking to move. One team needs a cornerback, and has draft picks they’re willing to move. This seems like a match made in heaven, right?
Pro Football Talk, along with many other media outlets, is reporting that the sticking point in a trade between the two teams is the year in which the Buccaneers would surrender a first round pick. The Bucs are willing to send the Jets a 2014 first rounder, when the Jets insist upon a 2013 first rounder.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The 2013 draft is one of the weaker quarterback classes in years, with only Geno Smith seeming to show franchise quarterback promise, and even that is questionable. 2014 may feature multiple franchise quarterbacks, along with a dynamic top-of-the-draft talent in Jadeveon Clowney. So why are the Jets insistent upon getting the 13th pick in 2013, which likely nets them a second tier corner or pass rusher, when they could elect to add a second first round pick in 2014 to give them multiple selections in a likely loaded first round? The possibility to selecting a franchise cornerback and a second impact player in the first round a year and a month from now should be a no-brainer.
On the other hand, the Buccaneers should surrender their 2013 first round pick at the drop of a hat. The pick is likely to land a prospect with question marks, and won’t bring them value at the cornerback position, as Dee Milliner will be off the board, and he might not be a lock as a franchise corner in the first place. The 13th pick is typically more valuable than a pick in the 20’s, but in this draft class, there is a very fluid and undefinable group from 10 to 40 that means the pick isn’t as valuable as it would be in a draft with more potent top 15 talent. So keep your 2014 pick, which will hopefully be in the late first, and use it to continue to build depth, rather than hoarding it just to reach for a player at 13 in this April’s draft.
This is the true madness this month. This trade should have been done and done again at this point, because neither team seems to realize what is on the table. It’s possible that one team or the other is simply waiting to see if they can get an unbeatable deal, but considering that in this situation the needs of each team match the assets of the other so well, it’s about time to end the madness and get a deal done.