By Matt Barbato
As the 2016 offseason dawdles along, the New York Jets could enter April with its two biggest offseason questions unanswered: What will happen with Muhammad Wilkerson? And will the Jets re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick?
The Jets slapped the franchise tag on Wilkerson in early March, but not much has developed since. Wilkerson’s departure seems more likely than a long-term extension at this point and the Jets admitted they were shopping the star defensive end.
As for Fitzpatrick, it appears the journeyman quarterback and Mike Maccagnan, the man who acquired him last offseason, are at a standstill. And this staring contest seems to have no end in sight, even after Robert Griffin III — who visited the Jets as a possible leverage ploy against Fitzpatrick — signed with the Cleveland Browns.
But what if there was a move that could kill both of these offseason quandaries with one stone, or trade? There might be a trade that could ship Wilkerson out while bringing in a competent quarterback and draft compensation in return.
Allow me to present a trade proposal:
Muhammad Wilkerson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Mike Glennon and Tampa Bay’s second round pick (No. 38 overall).
Why is this deal feasible? Let’s break it down:
Glennon has gotten the short end of the stick during his three-year tenure in Tampa. The former 2013 third round pick started 13 games during his rookie season and was relatively productive, throwing for 2,608 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. It’s all gone downhill for Glennon since then and it hasn’t exactly been his fault.
The Buccaneers signed career backup Josh McCown to a two-year, $10 million deal during the 2014 offseason based on a small sample size of success the previous season in Chicago. Glennon was stripped of the starting job, but ended up starting five games for the Buccaneers that season.
Tampa’s 2-14 campaign earned them the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and the franchise brought in Jameis Winston with the expectation that he would become the franchise quarterback.
Tampa has hitched its wagon to Winston, which makes Glennon expendable. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter admitted a Glennon trade is possible, but also mentioned he would love to keep Glennon on the team.
There has been plenty of speculation as to whether the Jets are interested in Glennon. But given that the team has kicked the tires on seemingly every quarterback available, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Jets were intrigued by a cheap, 26-year old quarterback who has produced at the professional level.
Glennon’s cap hit is very manageable at just $1.8 million in 2016 and he is set to become a free agent next offseason, which means 2016 would essentially be a tryout.
Most importantly, acquiring Glennon gives the Jets a reliable option to replace Fitzpatrick, which is something the team currently doesn’t possess.
The Buccaneers are one of the few teams in the NFL that could use Wilkerson and afford him, with the latter aspect probably being more essential in this scenario. Tampa Bay has a bit more than $18 million in cap room currently and is projected to have more than $74 million in cap space in 2017, according to OverTheCap.com.
Tampa signed defensive end Robert Ayers to a three-year deal worth $19.5 million, but Ayers has recorded only 26 sacks in seven seasons. The Buccaneers could use another boost to improve their defense and Wilkerson would represent a major step toward contention.
The draft compensation could vary in this deal. The Buccaneers own only seven draft picks, which makes it hard to assume they would be willing to part ways with more than one pick this year. Another option could be Tampa’s third round pick this year (No. 74 overall) and a conditional fifth or sixth round pick in next year’s draft.
The Jets could find a way to solve its two biggest problems with one trade. They would get something back for a player they clearly have little interest in re-signing while acquiring a quarterback who can play right away and respectable draft compensation.