INDIANAPOLIS -- New York Jets coach Adam Gase, seven weeks on the job, provided his first insights Wednesday on the roster he inherited. Give a listen:
Wide receiver Robby Anderson has "unique" speed and fluidity on deep balls. Fellow receiver Quincy Enunwa has the "unique" ability to run over defenders and make yards after the catch. Tight end Chris Herndon is "unique" because he's a three-down tight end, a "unicorn-type player."
With all this talent, how in the world did the Jets win only four games and finish 29th in total offense in 2018?
That's sarcasm, folks.
Truth is, they were uniquely bad on offense last season, a big reason why Gase is now employed by the Jets and Todd Bowles is the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gase is supposed to be the offensive guru, and he's being counted on to bring creativity and aggressiveness to the Jets' woebegone unit. You can't blame the man for talking up his roster on Day 1 at the NFL scouting combine -- no team wants to tip its hand before free agency -- but the hard truth is he needs a dynamic playmaker or two.
Because of tampering rules, Gase and general manager Mike Maccagnan weren't permitted to speak directly about the soon-to-be-former Pittsburgh Steelers. When asked if he needs an elite-level running back to run his offensive scheme, Gase said, "I'm pretty sure I know where you're going with this."
Say this for Gase: He can recognize an end around. The question was about Bell, of course. The pending free agent will cost a fortune, but he would be a nice fit for the Jets because of his versatility. He would take some pressure off Sam Darnold, and that's really what this offseason is all about: building a team around their promising young quarterback.
League insiders expect the Jets to make a run at Bell, who will command a top-of-the-market contract -- perhaps $15 million a year. Maccagnan's track record suggests he won't pay big bucks for a running back -- many GMs would concur -- but he certainly didn't shoot down the idea of writing a big check. Salary-cap room isn't an issue; the Jets have $102 million to spend, second only to the Indianapolis Colts.
"You look at it like any player: You just figure out, hey, what do you think the value of that player is within reason," Maccagnan said, also making a crack about the obvious Bell reference without ever saying his name.
Brown is a different situation because he's under contract to the Steelers (another three years for a non-guaranteed $39 million), but the Steelers have talked openly about their interest in trading him for the right price. Chances are, the Jets won't be able to meet that price. They don't have a second-round pick, and their first-round choice (No. 3 overall) is untouchable unless they trade down in exchange for multiple picks.
Still, the Jets will explore the Brown situation.
"You know my policy is I pretty much call everybody at some point in time about every name that flies out there, just to see," Maccagnan said. "But I would say simply this: You know that's something we haven't really ventured that far into yet. At this point in time, we're sort of evaluating the free-agency market, not the trade market and we'll see how that one unfolds."
My sense is the Jets aren't actively engaged in trade talks with the Steelers, but that could change at any moment. It would shock no one at the combine if Maccagnan, Mr. Due Diligence, strikes up a conversation with Steelers GM Kevin Colbert. For now, it appears the Jets are doing their homework on Brown, whose off-the-field shenanigans should give pause to any team with concerns about adding a me-first player to its locker room.
The Jets should pass on Brown, but if they can come out of this offseason with Bell and an improved offensive line ... well, they will have a chance to be a top-15 offense. Gase is correct in that Anderson, Enunwa and Herndon can be important pieces in the puzzle. He also believes Darnold has the ability to raise the level of those around him, the mark of a quality quarterback. It's a start, but there's a lot of work to be done.