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Bye Bye Brett (Unless He Changes His Mind)

According to reports on Wednesday, Brett Favre has told his agent to tell the New York Jets he plans on retiring. That might be enough for most players to convince the fans he has hung up his cleats, but with Favre this could change next week. But let’s take him at his word for now. After a roller coaster season that ended in a crushing spiral, the Jets will be searching for a new quarterback, as well as free up some much needed cap space to find some other players. Who that new quarterback will be remains to be seen.
Whether Favre flips again or not, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan have the go-ahead to plan a future without Favre. The de facto starter is now Kellen Clemens, who held the position before but was vastly unimpressive. He did show some flashes, but not enough to convince anyone around the Jets he is ready to take over the job. But the job is his to lose if the Jets can’t add a quarterback in the off season. But if he can’t win the starting job, expect the Jets to cut or trade him. If he can’t be the starter after two auditions he never will be, and the Jets should get whatever value they can out of him, and allow Clemens to fight for a job somewhere else. Second year quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Brett Ratliff will probably fight it out for the second string spot, with an outside chance (very outside) of vaulting to the starter spot. If one of these kids can overtake Clemens (or a new player) it would be a major coup, and maybe crazy enough to work.
There are few appealing options on the market at the quarterback position. Any veteran available would only be a stop-gap solution that probably wouldn’t be much of a boost over Favre. Jeff Garcia was part of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers collapse worse than the Jets. And the younger signal-callers are all cast-offs and retreads that couldn’t hold on to starting jobs in previous chances.
The draft is becoming an intriguing option. There appear to be three quarterbacks with first round potential, Matthew Stafford of Georgia, Mark Sanchez of USC, and Josh Freeman of Kansas State. Stafford appears to be pegged to the Detroit Lions with the top pick. Sanchez is currently expected to the next quarterback off the board, followed by Freeman. Whether either ones makes it to the Jets pick at 17 is a long way from being determined. There are several teams in front of the Jets that could choose a quarterback, including the St. Louis Rams (2), Kansas City Chiefs (3), Seattle Seahawks (4), Jacksonville Jaguars (8), San Francisco 49ers (10) and Buffalo Bills (11). But none of these teams are a lock to choose one, some with struggling veterans in place (Rams, Seahawks, Jaguars) or the team is already going through the young-QB turmoil (Chiefs, 49ers, Bills) and might not want to go through it again. There is a chance of a Alex Smith to Aaron Rodgers fall-off from the first to second quarterbacks, and the Jets might not be able to pass up that opportunity. You know if Sanchez is on the board at 17 come draft day, the Jets fans in the crowd will be chanting his name, and booing any other name called in that spot.
The Jets off season just got more exciting and interesting. But if this is how the Jet Favre saga ends, (and hopefully it is) than let me close it be saying that I still believe it was a good idea back in August to trade for Favre. While Chad Pennington stuck it to the Jets as a Miami Dolphin, I think he had reached his peak with the Jets. He was never able to stay healthy and play well for two consecutive seasons (Miami fans will want to remember that come September 2009) and the Jets never seemed like they would get beyond 10-6 without him, which this season would not have been good enough for the playoffs in the AFC and teams knew how to attack the Pennington-led Jets offense (you think Mangini would have been as imaginative and daring as the Miami staff with the Wildcat?) and Pennington’s short passes. With Favre the Jets rolled the dice and brought some spark to the team, and for a while it looked like it was going to pay off in a big way. In hindsight, the trade did not work out, and once again the Jets are left searching for a quarterback. But back in August I was cheering the move, and I will stand by that. The Jets ceiling was raised when Favre came aboard, but it wound up in the usual spot for Jets fans. Let’s hope that whoever lines up behind center in September can handle the pressure of being the quarterback of the New York Jets.

Jason Levy

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