Mehta's Jets Mailbag: Debunking Fitz money myth

In the latest edition of the Jets mailbag, we discuss Johnny Football, debunk a widely held financial myth, channel our inner Vince McMahon and much more.

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What’s the real problem in signing Fitzpatrick? Are the Jets really having salary cap problems? And what is there next option? — Robert M. Canuto @Romeca69

The sticking point is indeed money, but let’s dispel this notion that the Jets can’t pay Fitzpatrick because they are confined by the salary cap. The idea of “salary cap hell” is nonsense nine times out of 10. It certainly does not apply to the Jets right now.

Although they have a league-low in cap space (about $ 565,000), they can — and will — ultimately free up more cash to re-sign Fitzpatrick and get their drafted rookies under contract with a simple contract restructure or two if need be. We reported on Wednesday that the Jets approached D’Brickashaw Ferguson last week about a pay cut. The team specifically told Ferguson that the savings would help them bring back Fitzpatrick. There are also about a half dozen contracts that the team could re-do with garden-variety base salary-to-signing bonus restructures to free up cash.

Teams are rarely in true salary cap hell. If you want money, you can find ways to get it.

It was comical a few years ago when John Idzik was credited for getting the Jets out of “salary cap hell” after he took over for Mike Tannenbaum. All Idzik did was make the same few predictable cuts (Jason Smith, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Eric Smith) that Tannenbaum — or any GM — would have done to clear space.

No, the issue with the Fitzpatrick case is pure valuation. The team believes that the player should be paid like a short-term answer, while the player believes that it’s fair to get the going rate for starting quarterbacks ($ 15-$ 18 million/year). There are merits to both sides of the discussion, but sooner or later, there needs to be a compromise. They both need each other for at least one more season. It makes perfect football sense for the team and player.

I would be stunned if Fitzpatrick isn’t back with the Jets. In fact, I’ll hitchhike home if … oh, never mind.

JETS MAILBAG: MO WILKERSON’S DESIRE TO BE TRADED

Thoughts on Connor Cook in the 2nd round? Proven winner in a pro-style offense — Paul 718 @queensblvd19

Cook is an intriguing second-round option because of the qualities you mentioned, but there are a few things that might give teams cause for concern. I’ve heard some “interesting” off-field stories about Cook that I’m sure the Jets have too. One general manager recently told me he wouldn’t touch the guy because of some of those tales. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. There are some folks in the Jets organization, who aren’t scared off. Cook has been terrific in his interviews in the past month or so. Frankly, I’ve been impressed from what I’ve seen from him in the run-up to the draft.

Some people, however, still can’t get past why a senior quarterback wasn’t a team captain.

JETS MAILBAG: FREE AGENCY ANSWERS ON FITZPATRICK AND MORE

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Jets would play 10 vs. 11 before thinking about adding Johnny Manziel.

Would the Jets look at Johnny Manziel under any circumstance? — Blake Harris @blakemharris

It’s dangerous to throw out absolutes this time of year, but I’ll say this with a great deal of certainty: The Jets would not sign Johnny Manziel if he were the last quarterback on Earth. They would literally play 10-on-11 and take their chances.

With Devin Smith coming back from the ACL injury, I think a deep threat at WR in Rounds 3 or 4 is a need. Your thoughts? — Ira from Staten Island:

I’d agree with you if the Jets had 12 picks like a few years ago, but picks will be in short supply in a few weeks. The Jets only have six selections as of now. Wide receiver is not high on their list. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa and Smith are more than capable of being a quality group.

The team will be much better suited addressing offensive line and edge rusher in those premium rounds (Rounds 1-3).

Remember, the Jets invested a second-round pick in Smith last year. Although he had a forgettable rookie season littered with injuries, it’s way too early to give up on him. If Fitzpatrick returns, he’ll have to get more in sync with Smith. The two of them never really clicked. Smith’s strength, as everyone knows, is taking the top off the defense, so Fitzpatrick better loosen up his shoulder and be prepared to air it out.

JETS DRAFT PREVIEW: 4 PLAYERS THAT MAKE SENSE

Say all of the Jets take part in a Royal Rumble match. Who is the last man standing in the ring? — KayAitchVee @KayAitchVee

You definitely get points for creativity in the wake of Wrestlemania 74 (or something like that). There are some tough guys in the Jets locker room. Not going to lie: Mo Wilkerson frightens me. Sheldon Richardson is a beast. David Harris is a silent assassin. Breno Giacomini looks like someone who used to rough up kids in elementary school for their lunch money.

But there is only one right answer to this question. The toughest SOB on One Jets Drive right now (even though he is actually a very pleasant guy off the field) is Nick Mangold.

You don’t want to mess with Mangold. Just ask Antonio Cromartie, who got treated like a rag doll a few years ago after the cornerback’s ill-advised hit on Stephen Hill during a “friendly” training camp practice.

Mangold seems like he wouldn’t hurt a fly, but the guy is country strong (even though I don’t think he actually grew up in the country). He’s got Hamburger Helper Hands. That’s why I shy away from shaking them.

Mangold would outlast everyone in a Royal Rumble match. Lock it up.

JETS MAILBAG: MO WILKERSON FOR QB GLENNON TRADE TALK

Seth Wenig/AP

In a Royal Rumble of Jets players, Nick Mangold would be the last man standing.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL: Five Quick Hitters…

If Fitz doesn’t throw that pick to McKelvin in Week 17, is he 18 million dollars richer today? — Brian McGahan @BMcGahan88

Nope. That’s a silly way to look at it. The organization’s valuation isn’t based on one play or one game.

In a perfect world, who would the Jets love to pick in the draft? — beating the books @popthatcap

Mississippi tackle Laremy Tunsil. Well, at least that’s who I believe that the Jets should love to have.

Would/Should Gang Green trade Mo Wilkinson and No. 20 to Cleveland for No. 2… and hope Wentz is the man for 10 years? — Glenn Deibel @lennitt

Browns would never do that trade.

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Mo Wilkerson being traded seems like a necessity considering the cap implications. What is his realistic value? 2nd and 4th? — Matt Martin @MHMartin2

You’re worth what a team will pay for you. The Jets want at least a first-round pick, but I would absolutely pull the trigger if I were Mike Maccagnan if a team offered a high second- and fourth-rounder. Alas, I’m not Maccagnan.

With a fair amount of needs and a lack of picks, do you think it would be smart for the Jets to trade down? — Andrew Golden @SOMETHINFUNNEE

Absolutely. That’s the smart move unless a player that you love slips to No. 20.

Tags:
ryan fitzpatrick ,
nick mangold ,
connor cook ,
johnny manziel ,
devin smith ,
muhammad wilkerson ,
nfl ,
nfl transactions ,
new york jets ,
mike maccagnan

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