Colts Jets Trade Grades

I know my following is broadening because the Colts clearly read my in-season article where I argued they should tank with Luck out in order to sell off their first pick to the highest bidder.  For the record, Jim Irsay, I’m not looking for any financial compensation, just a shoutout on Twitter.  Maybe a FrostedTakes banner in the Lucas Oil Stadium, but I’ll take the Twitter shoutout.

So the Jets and the Colts made a significant trade today.  Here’s the breakdown:

Jets Receive: 3rd pick in 2018
Colts Receive: 6th pick, 37th pick, 49th pick in 2018, 2019 Second Round pick

Colts Grade: A-

In order for us to accurately place either side of this into context, we should take a look at the recent modern day history of teams moving up for a quarterback in the top half of the draft.  Let’s go as far back as Eli Manning:

To go from #4 to #1 for Eli in 2004, the Giants gave up #4, #11, #65, and #141.  The Chargers profited 21.6 points of draft capital according to the Chase Stuart draft chart.  The 8th pick is worth 21.4 points.

To go from #17 to #5 for Mark Sanchez in 2009, the Jets gave up #17, #52, and three anonymous players.  Eric Mangini was accused of being a Jets’ spy that had infiltrated the Browns organization because of this trade.  The Browns profited 1.7 points of draft capital plus the three players.  The 176th pick is worth 1.7 points.  Good job, Eric.

To go from #16 to #10 for Blaine Gabbert in 2011, the Jaguars gave up #16 and #49.  Washington profited 6.8 points of draft capital.  The 79th pick is worth 6.8 points.  

To go from #6 to #2 for RGIII in 2012, Washington gave up #2, #6, #22, and #36.  St. Louis profited 49.9 points of draft capital.  The 1st pick is worth 34.6 points and the 21st pick is worth 15.2 points.

To go from #15 to #1 for Jared Goff in 2016, the Rams gave up #5, #15, #43, #45, #76, and #100 for #1, #113, and #117.  Tennessee profited 34.3 points of draft capital.  The 1st pick is worth 34.6 points.

To go from #8 to #2 for Carson Wentz in 2016, the Eagles gave up #8, #12, #64, #77, and #100 for #2, and #139.  The Browns profited 27.1 points of draft capital.  The 3rd pick is worth 27.6 points.  

To go from #3 to #2 for Mitch Trubisky in 2017, the Bears gave up #3, #67, #70, and #111.  The 49ers profited 17.3 points of draft capital.  The 15th pick is worth 17.4 points.  

To go from #27 to #10 for Patrick Mahomes in 2017, the Chiefs gave up #22, #27, and #91.  The Bills profited 14.5 points of draft capital.  The 23rd pick is worth 14.6 points and the 24th pick is worth 14.4 points.

To go from #24 to #12 for Deshaun Watson in 2017, the Texans gave up #4 and #24.  Cleveland profited 21.4 points of draft capital.  The 8th pick is worth 21.4 points.

I understand that not every quarterback trade is ceteris paribus and that there are plenty of variables here.  The distance traveled moving up from one pick to another is always different.  The pick number at which someone is drafted fluctuates from 1st to 12th.  The league consensus of just how good a prospect each quarterback is varies.  Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez were drafted before rookie scale contracts.

But I think a clear take away is that there isn’t an established market value for trading up to get a the quarterback that you want.  All we can definitively conclude is that no one will sniff an RG3 package ever again.

And the Jets may not even get the guy they want.  They must be comfortable enough with three guys, but there has to at least be a 1A, 1B, 1C distinction among them.

So considering all that the Colts did pretty well.  They didn’t get a future first round pick, which is rare in these deals, but they walk away with three extra second rounders and stay in the top six.  There is a good chance four of the top five players drafted are three quarterbacks and Saquon Barkley.  The Colts at six should therefore be able to decide between at least two of Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb, and Minkah Fitzpatrick.  They could even trade back again with another quarterback desperate team or someone dying to get their hands on one of those three aforementioned guys.

Let’s do a little math.  In order to do so we have to come up with a reasonable projection of where the Jets 2019 second round pick will fall.  In 2017 the Jets essentially underperformed their Pythagorean Win Expectation by 0.5 wins.  They have been decently aggressive in free agency so far, but are now without a second round pick and figure to be starting a rookie quarterback in 2018 once they’re clearly out of the playoff picture.  Let’s just say the Jets go 6-10 next season.  In 2017 three teams – the 9ers, Raiders, and Dolphins – went 6-10 and those teams are picking 9th, 10th, and 11th, respectively.  So let’s average that to the 10th pick.  The 10th pick of the second round is the 42nd selection.  Let’s treat this trade as the Jets giving up #6, #37, #42 and #49 for #3.

According to the Chase Stuart draft chart, the Colts profited 27.8 points of draft capital, meaning by moving down from the 3rd pick to the 6th pick they added the equivalent of the 3rd pick for their troubles.  That’s really good.

I just can’t help but wonder why the Colts did this trade now instead of when they were on the clock.  You would think that the pressure of the clock ticking would create a bidding war for this commodity and the Colts could have waited as long as possible and picked the highest bidder.  Bill Barnwell, however, believes had the Colts waited they could have ended up with no offer at all.

I have never been in an NFL War Room.  I have never spoken to anyone who has been in an NFL War Room.  I have probably never spoken to anyone who has spoken to anyone that has been in an NFL War Room.  Maybe the clock would have run out on the Colts and they would have been left with no offer at all, but I don’t find it very likely.  There is always AN offer.  Maybe you outsmarted yourself and are now taking less, but there is an offer to be had.

If you watch the 30 for 30 Elway to Marino you can get in inside look on how the entire NFL tried to trade for John Elway.  Elway was considered a generational prospect, but the quarterback position is more important now than ever before and teams are ponying up more for them now than ever before.  The Chargers called everyone’s bluff in 2004.  They called Archie’s bluff, Eli’s bluff, and the Giants’ bluff.  Yes, Ernie Accorsi was planning to just draft Roethlisberger as the clock was ticking down, but the Chargers called and a deal was struck.  There is always a deal.

The Colts opted for one in the hand instead of the two in the bush.  I can’t really argue with that philosophy.  They could have gambled on getting more while on the clock and ended up winning, losing or drawing on the gamble.  I actually think there would have been an AFC East centric bidding war featuring all the teams that don’t employ Tom Brady had the Colts waited for draft day.  (Perhaps the Jets prognosticated this same scenario and that was their motivation to get this done now.)  But Chris Ballard liked this deal and he took it.

I’d say the closest historical comparisons here are the Eli trade and the RG3 trade, in terms of the distance the Colts moved down the board and the picks involved.  No team in history will ever again relinquish an RG3 package and the Colts made out better than the Chargers did, according to the Chase Stuart chart, by 6.2 points of draft capital, which equals the 87th pick of the draft.  In terms of actual draft capital profit, this trade is dead on with the Wentz deal.

The Colts need the picks and they’re now holding two high end second rounders with the potential for a third.  Those picks have proven to be the most valuable picks in the entire draft.  The Colts are a team devoid of talent around Andrew Luck and need much more than whoever they may have chosen with the 3rd pick.  They got a lot of value for this trade and while it is possible they could have gotten more this is indisputably a win for the franchise.

Jets Grade: A-

So the Jets paid more than the Giants did for Eli and we don’t even know who the Jets will be drafting since they don’t control the destiny of the 3rd pick.  My biggest question for the Jets is, why now?  Were they afraid of a bidding war if the Colts were on the clock?  Are they really so comfortable with three different quarterbacks that it just isn’t that big a deal to them which one reaches the 3rd pick?  Is there any precedent in the history of NFL personnel departments where a team agreed three top of the draft quarterbacks were completely equal?

The answer must be that they talked to these guys at the combine and decided they are in fact comfortable with three different quarterbacks.  I also believe this shows us that they weren’t able to maneuver their way into the top two.

Barnwell isn’t as high on the Jets’ side of this deal as I am, in part because he doesn’t like that the Jets have no control over who gets to them.  He says their aggressive move may not have been aggressive enough and they should have catapulted higher up the board.  I just don’t think that was in any way realistic.

Even though the Browns brought in Tyrod Taylor and sent a Twittersphere theory flying through the internet that Cleveland was planning to take Saquon Barkley with the first pick, the Browns almost immediately killed that theory by signing Carlos Hyde.  Hey, it’s the Browns, they might still take Barkley despite making Hyde a top 9 paid NFL running back (FFS, seriously?), but the odds are that they will probably take a quarterback first.

Oh, and they absolutely cannot trade the first pick to a team that wants one.  John Dorsey has publicly stated all options are on the table for the first pick, but this is the least vision impairing smoke screen in history.  This is what Dorsey is really saying:  “If you want to be stupid enough to sell me your entire farm and give me an RG3 package, I’ll take it.  Oh, and hey, Giants, if you desperately want one particular guy, we’re totally cool with two different quarterbacks and would move down.”

Passing on a quarterback that becomes a star after trading away the Wentz and Watson picks is a PR disaster this organization cannot possibly survive.  It’s one thing to take Barkley first and push all the quarterbacks down the board, take whoever you like most at #4 and then lie to the public and say you “got the guy you wanted all along.”  Trading the pick to a team that is guaranteed to take a quarterback and leaving yourself in jeopardy of not having one available to you at #4 that you don’t consider worth that high of a pick is something no one can survive if the pick you traded ends up a budding star for a third time.

And no, the Giants were not going to trade the second pick to the people they share a stadium with.  If the Giants fall back to #6, don’t end up with a quarterback or Barkley, and the guy the Jets draft at #2 ends up a star in New York City for not the Giants, a pitch fork mob is going up to Giants headquarters demanding the heads of Gettleman, Shurmur, and anyone not named Mara.

The 3rd pick was the ceiling for the Jets in terms of trading up.  It is weird, and perhaps something that has never happened before, but the Jets like three guys almost equally and think there is at least a decent change Barkley goes in the top two.  My “educated” guess (read: gut feeling) for the quarterback board in the Jets draft room is: 1. Rosen 2. Darnold 3. Mayfield.

Maccagnan attended multiple UCLA games this season.  He went to the UCLA pro day.  Every team in the NFL was at UCLA’s pro day and one of the UCLA games Maccagnan went to was UCLA-USC, so he was clearly there to scout both quarterbacks.  Oh, and I’m sure Maccagnan will be in attendance for USC’s pro day.  But when UCLA and USC squared off against each in late November, Rosen was clearly the superior player that day.  You can flip Rosen and Darnold if you want, but those are the top two, with Mayfield in third.

And I don’t want to hear that it’s possible one of these guys could have fallen to #6.  The Browns are taking a quarterback in the top 4, so there’s one off the board.  It is entirely possible, if not probable, the Giants take a quarterback.  The Colts were going to trade that pick to a quarterback needy team.  The Broncos signed Case Keenum but didn’t make a significant long term investment into him.  The odds are three quarterbacks are off the board before the 6th pick and the Jets were aggressive in locking up one of them.  They paid a reasonable price, based on history, and had they not traded up and no one fell to them the New York media would be chastising the Jets for not having been more aggressive.

What I don’t understand though is why the Jets signed Teddy Bridgewater.  After having signed McCown to a one year deal, the Jets decided to roll the dice and see if Bridgewater could regain his pre-injury form without committing long-term to find out.  That makes sense.  In hindsight, it seems like the Jets knew all along they were going up the board to get a quarterback, so I don’t understand the Bridgewater move.  If you don’t want your rookie to start, start McCown for 8, 10, 16 games before turning it over to the young guy.  What purpose does Teddy now play for this franchise?

The trade itself is good but the Bridgewater component is befuddling.  It’s only a one year deal and the odds Teddy reaches the incentives to earn $15 million are now significantly slimmer, so it’s the end of the world.  But is he taking second team reps over the rookie?  Is that really the best plan for this young kid’s development?

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