Last Monday officially marked the end of an illustrious career for Carmelo Anthony. The future hall of famer announced his retirement via social media after sitting out this season as a free agent. Although it would've been nice to see him compete for one last title, Anthony seemed content with his decision. While I've had the privilege of watching a few great athletes, Anthony stands alone, and here's why.
All of the playoff seasons the Knicks enjoyed from 2010-2013, can be attributed to the arrival of Carmelo Anthony. It's true Amare Stoudemire was propelling the Knicks in the right direction prior to Anthony, but injuries would ultimately keep him from reaching his full potential. However, Anthony made an immediate impact, leading the Knicks to the playoffs in his first three years. The 2013 season saw the Knicks have their best season in almost 20 years, and their first playoff series win in 13 years. Having been dreadful before, those were some of the best seasons Knick fans could remember for awhile. Even in the dark years, Anthony still proceeded to give fans something to cheer for despite being maligned by management.
But if there's one thing anyone could agree with when debating Carmelo Anthony's legacy, it's that he was one of the few athletes who embraced playing for a tough sports market like New York. Many athletes might want to play for a New York City-based team, but they're not prepared for the pressure that comes with being in the Big Apple. Anthony knew what he was getting into, and he welcomed the challenge. During his time with the Knicks, Anthony explained "When you go to places like New York, you feel the excitement, the energy is different, the fans are different, and the game is different playing in New York."
A few years after his Knick career, Anthony reiterated his desire to play, saying "I wanted to take that challenge on. Whether I failed at it or not, I wanted to be able to say that I did it. I took it upon myself to say 'Get me there.' Not everyone has that same mentality." That earned him the respect of many New Yorkers including myself.
On the court, it was hard not to appreciate Anthony's game. He might've not been the all around player his buddy LeBron James is, but when it came to scoring, Anthony was pure. He was also a strong rebounder, particularly on the offensive end, but his scoring will always be talked about, as it should be. In a league where three point shooting has rapidly increased, Anthony was definitely no stranger to using the three point line, but he used the whole floor offensively. With the strength to score inside, along with a deadly jump shot, Anthony's game was was as sweet as soft serve ice cream. In short, good things were bound to happen whenever he had the ball.
Even after getting traded, Anthony was such a likable player who was easy to follow. He grew as a person over the years, and it was evident through his efforts in becoming a leader of his community during the social unrest in America. Anthony's work earned him the 2020-2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award.
It will be weird watching the NBA with Anthony officially retired. Although he never won a championship, he conducted himself like a champion, and had many championship-worthy nights. There will never be a day where I wasn't happy to have him as my favorite athlete.
The Knicks gave their fans an unforgettable season, winning their first playoff series in 10 years, before ultimately falling to the Heat in the semifinals. They were a tough, resilient team that fit the city and its fanbase like a glove. Unlike most years, where they become more irrelevant as the season goes on, New York got better as the games went on, going further than they have in a decade.
While there are many reasons why New York had their most successful season in recent memory, a few stand out in particular.
From a roster standpoint, the team got a major boost from the free agent signing of point guard, Jalen Brunson, who took this team to the next level. While a decent amount of players from the 2021 season still remained such as Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin, the Knicks were in desperate need of a point guard who could guide the offense. Brunson did show plenty of improvement the year prior, but that didn't stop some Mavericks from letting him walk in free agency. Although the Knicks were criticized for signing him to a $110 million contract, that now seems like a bargain if anything. While this is only Brunson's first year as a Knick, he already has a legitimate case as the best free-agent signing in Knicks history.
Throughout the season, it became more apparent that Brunson was finally the point guard the Knicks have been searching for. His production and leadership were essential in helping the Knicks rebound from a 37 win season the year prior. Brunson posted career highs in points and assists, while spearheading an offense that averaged 10 more points than last season. More importantly, he helped the Knicks maintain their success over the course of the year in a competitive Eastern Conference. He further proved himself in the playoffs, averaging 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists. This included an incredible 38/9/7 in 48 minutes in game five against Miami to stave off elimination. Brunson's presence, also allowed other players like Randle to thrive in more comfortable roles.
For head coach Tom Thibodeau, anyone who viewed him as incredibly stubborn, must think twice. He's not perfect, but he made many adjustments that had a major impact. His best move, without question, was going with a nine man rotation despite having a fairly deep roster. It jumpstarted an eight game win streak, and while some wondered how long it could last, the strategy ultimately proved to be the right decision. Other smart moves, included inserting Quentin Grimes into the starting lineup, and finding an immediate role for Josh Hart after the Knicks traded for him in February.
If there's one attribute the Knicks had this season, it would be their resilience. With all due respect to their top options, Brunson, Randle, and Barrett, they aren't superstars. A team constructed like the Knicks must do all the little things right from hard-nosed defense every possession, to picking up after another's mistake. Whereas some teams might struggle in that department, it was easy for the Knicks because they had such a tight knit group. Everybody understood their responsibilities, and were determined to excel in their roles. New York's chemistry only got better when they acquired Hart, who was Brunson's Villanova teammate, at the trade deadline.
Each month, the Knicks continued to make significant strides as a team, and it showed from December up until the semifinals. Some moments that highlighted their grit included the eight game win streak that sparked the turnaround, an overtime road win in January against the Celtics, a 20 point comeback against the 76ers, a nine game win streak from February to March, and their first round triumph.
This was a significant step for the Knicks in becoming a playoff contender. They have a strong foundation of unselfish players who work extremely well together. With the majority of this team likely returning, along with the possibility of the Knicks being an attractive destination this offseason, there are plenty of reasons to be excited going forward. With Brunson on the roster, anything is possible.
How Beneficial Are Baseball's New Rules?
We are just over a month into the 2023 baseball season, but the rule changes implemented over the offseason already have a significant impact on the game. From new pitch clocks to bigger bases, baseball put a big focus on making the game faster and more entertaining, which has paid off so far. As someone who watches baseball most of the season, I can't help but wonder if these changes will change baseball's momentum for good.
Before this season, baseball was starting to lose viewership, which was a result of the long duration of most games. With plenty of stoppages during contests, the average length of a game last year was just over three hours. Even the biggest and most loyal baseball fans were starting to voice their concern about the increasing times of each game. There were even some games where I was relieved for it to be over regardless of who won.
As a result of the growing complaints, the MLB spent the offseason prioritizing ways to make games shorter. With an abundance of new rules, games are already looking drastically different than before. For one, the time it takes before and during at-bats is a lot shorter than in years past. Pitchers now have 30 seconds to throw a pitch in between batters, along with a 15 second clock during pitches with no one on base, and a 20 second clock with runners on. Hitters will also be held accountable during their at-bats. They must be in the batter's box by the time there's eight seconds left, or else they'll be charged with a strike.
In addition, the MLB also set out to make rules more favorable for offenses with the banning of the shift and bigger bases. Defenses are now required to place two players on each side of the infield, while the size of bases have jumped from 15 inches square to 18. Both rules are major attempts to generate excitement in hopes of giving some of the game's most talented players more opportunities to flourish. All-stars such as Shohei Ohtani, who's hit 80 home runs in the last two years, and Trea Turner, who's stolen more bases than anyone else since 2016, will now be even more dangerous thanks to these changes.
It's still early in the season, but the effects from the new rules can't be ignored. The average length for an MLB game is almost 30 minutes shorter than last season at two and a half hours, while hitting has also seen a significant jump compared to years past. This has ultimately caused a rapid increase in ratings during the young season. Opening day saw the minutes in viewership go up by 42 percent, and the league has maintained that success so far.
Players are still getting used to the rule changes, which is evident given the strikes and balls called due to clock violations whether it's the batter or the pitcher. Some at-bats have literally been determined by the pitch clock, as seen in a Red Sox Braves spring training game where the umpire determined the batter wasn't ready to hit on a 3-2 count with two outs, and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.
I can personally say that although the Yankees have currently been disappointing, this is indeed a nice welcome change. You can now tolerate watching the sport without having to worry about it taking over your entire evening. This is a busy time of year for sports, with the NBA and NHL playoffs going on, but the number of fans tuning in is an encouraging sign. If baseball is seeing plenty of favorable results at this time of year, imagine how many will be watching during the summer and into the fall.
The NFL draft is a tremendous opportunity for upstart teams to make significant roster upgrades entering the following season. This year was different, however. Teams who overachieved, such as the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, along with the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, have multiple first round picks. While it is still months before football, it is never too early to make judgements on whether some of these teams improved their chances of winning for the upcoming season.
Teams Who Improved
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were one of the league's most surprising teams, due to the resurgence of Geno Smith and a bevy of young talent. Thanks to their decision to trade Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, they possessed multiple first round picks for the second straight year which were used on cornerback Devon Witherspoon and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njiba. Witherspoon may not be imposing at 180 lbs, but he's an aggressive cornerback with ball skills, and is not afraid to make a big hit. He and Tariq Woolen could be a formidable cornerback duo in the future.
As for Smith-Njiba, he's arguably the best receiver in the draft. With his fundamentally sound route running, terrific hands, and the ability to create after the catch, he gives Smith another target to throw to alongside DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. While the Seahawks certainly have talent at both cornerback and receiver, they are valuable positions that can be built upon in the draft
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Although the Jaguars didn't have multiple first round picks, they still managed to upgrade a roster that reached the divisional round despite being 4-8 at one point in the season. They traded down twice in the first round to select offensive tackle Anton Harrison. He might not have so many eye-opening plays, but he's a very patient blocker who does a great job staying in front of his opponents in pass protection. This was particularly a good pick because the Jaguars had to address the tackle position after the departure of Jawaan Taylor and a recent suspension for Cam Robinson. Harrison could give Trevor Lawrence even more protection from the blindside which would go a long way to a solid passing attack.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have already solidified themselves as contenders following a Super Bowl appearance, but given they weren't expected to have a such dominant year, I felt it was still appropriate to put them on this list. With multiple picks in the first round thanks to last year's draft day trade with the Saints, they went all in on defense with Georgia standouts Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith.
Smith is a very instinctive player whose relentless pursuit allows him to make numerous plays in the backfield. Carter might be a defensive tackle, but his strength and quickness allow him to be just as effective as a pass rusher along with a run stopper. This is the second straight year Philadelphia drafted defensive starters from Georgia, as last year saw them get Jordan Davis in the first round and Nakobe Dean in the third round. The only difference is that Smith and Carter have more upside, which will be essential toward maintaining a very good front seven.
Teams That Missed Out
1. Detroit Lions
After finishing the season 8-2, the Lions had a solid free agency and an even better opportunity to make improvements in the draft having owned the Rams' pick. It would've made sense to use their picks on a cornerback or defensive tackle. Instead, they made two questionable decisions by drafting running back Jahmyr Gibbs and linebacker Jack Campbell. What's head-scratching about these moves is that running backs and linebackers are positions that can be addressed later in the draft. Detroit is still a strong candidate to make the playoffs this upcoming year, but this was a spectacular chance to establish a roster that could seriously contend.
2. New York Jets
The Jets already checked their biggest need at quarterback by acquiring Aaron Rodgers before the draft. To boost his protection, they were eyeing offensive tackles (Broderick Jones, Paris Johnson Jr., or Peter Skoronski). But after seeing each one taken, they selected edge rusher Will McDonald. To be fair, McDonald is a solid player who will line up outside opposing tackles much more than at Iowa St. This will allow him to utilize his speed and finesse off the ball. However, the Jets have plenty of edge rushers. While his playing time in 2024 will likely increase assuming Carl Lawson leaves in free agency, it's a bit of a letdown to see the Jets miss out on a bigger need even if it wasn't their fault.
NBA Playoff Predictions
It seemed like every few weeks, a new team was making a legitimate case as an NBA title contender while another team was just treading water in that time period. As a result, this was the first time since the 2000-2001 season that no NBA team won 60 games in an 82 game season. However, that doesn't mean this year's playoffs will be entertaining. There are a number of teams that could go on a deep playoff run whether it's the league best Milwaukee Bucks, or the Los Angeles Lakers who didn't clinch a playoff spot until Tuesday's play-in win. Here are my predictions.
Eastern Conference: Western Conference:
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Nuggets 4
#8 Heat 0 #8 Timberwolves 1
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Nuggets 4
#4 Cavaliers 1 #4 Suns 2
#4 Cavaliers 4 #4 Suns 4
#5 Knicks 3 #5 Clippers 2
#1 Bucks 4 #1 Bucks 4 #1 Nuggets 4
#3 Celtics 2 #3 Nuggets 1 #2 Lakers 1
#3 76ers 4 #3 Kings 4
#6 Nets 1 #6 Warriors 3
#2 Celtics 4 #7 Lakers 4
#3 76ers 3 #3 Kings 2
#2 Celtics 4 #2 Grizzlies 2
#7 Hawks 1 #7 Lakers 4
At one point during the last MLB season, it seemed like a Yankees-Mets Subway Series in October wasn't out of the question. Both teams were loaded with talent, from their pitching staffs to the lineups, and looked destined to make a deep playoff run. Even their matchups lived up to expectations, giving fans a potential preview.
But by the end of the season, any World Series talk was forgotten as the Yankees lost their lead in the American League, while the Mets dropped to second in their division. Both teams would eventually go out in embarrassing fashion during the playoffs. With a new baseball season starting in a week, what must happen for both teams to avoid another disappointing ending?
The Yankees had a much busier offseason compared to last year. They addressed their biggest need in re-signing A.L. MVP Aaron Judge for nine more years of deep home runs and leaping catches at the wall. Given that he's been the team's best player since Derek Jeter, losing Judge would have been a massive mistake. They also added another all star to their pitching staff in Carlos Rodón. These were certainly smart moves, but they won't be the deciding factors in getting the Yankees over the hump.
Instead, the key will be whether their collection of young prospects can make a significant difference. The Yankees already saw Oswaldo Cabrera receive plenty of playing time toward the end of the season and into the playoffs. He can play anywhere in the field and will have an even bigger impact if his hitting improves. They also have two other prospects in shortstops Oswaldo Peraza and Anthony Volpe who are on the horizon toward seeing lots of action. The Yankees are clearly confident in both players since they passed on a loaded group of shortstops in free agency. Every good team has a few homegrown superstars, and if the Yankees can rely on their young talent for a much needed boost, it could be the difference between an ALCS and a World Series.
The Mets, on the other hand, have had a roller coaster offseason ever since it started. They lost two time Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom, but replaced him with another Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander. They also re-signed Brandon Nimmo and added pitcher Kodai Senga from Japan. However, they saw their contract with shortstop Carlos Correa fall apart over concerns with his physical, and then watch reliever Edwin Diaz tear his ACL while celebrating Puerto Rico's win in the World Baseball Classic.
Even with all the highs and lows, the Mets still have an extremely talented team. Besides the need to temporarily replace Diaz, they do not have many glaring weaknesses. Whether the Mets can take the next step will be determined by their ability to play against inferior competition. While some might point to the Atlanta Braves sweeping them at the end of the year, that could have been avoided if the Mets didn't go 12-9 against teams below .500 during September. That's not going to cut it in one of the most competitive divisions. Like last year, the Mets will have plenty of matchups with teams ready to throw in the towel by fall. If the Mets want to make noise down the stretch, it starts by winning the games where they're favored.
It's no secret that today's NBA players have a lot of power to determine their future compared to other athletes. Teams are always willing to satisfy the needs of their superstars because they're investing so much in them. This ultimately puts the player in a position where he wields a lot of power to influence his team's decision making. However, that power is sometimes used to request a trade if he's dissatisfied for some reason.
This year, as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant had their trade requests granted as the Brooklyn Nets shipped them off to the Mavericks and Suns, ending the championship dreams Brooklyn once had when they signed the two stars.
While all players deserve the freedom to seek a new destination, one must wonder when should a player be entitled to want out.
It's very common for high-profile players to voice frustration with their teams whether it's the departure of an important player, displeasure with the coach, or concern about their team's direction. Granted, it does brings another layer of entertainment to a league filled with storylines each week. Durant himself stated, "It just brings more attention to the league, and really what makes you money is when you get more attention. So, I think it’s great for the league, to be honest."
But is it really great for the league when a superstar takes advantage of the power his team gives him?
There are plenty of scenarios where a player wants to be traded even though he might have been the problem. The NBA is a league where teams need stars to perform at a high level, and if they fall short because of their best player's personal shortcomings, that's not on the other players or the coach. Irving is a perfect example, as his personal beliefs and actions held the Nets back from reaching their potential. While he felt like the Nets hadn't respected him, it was Irving who did them a disservice - making more headlines for his controversial opinions rather than winning.
So that goes back to the original question: when is it reasonable for a player to seek a new destination?
The answer is that a player must consistently star for their team, embrace every challenge thrown at them, and hold themselves accountable before expressing his desire to be traded. If it's the team that fails them every season, then they have every right to seek greener pastures. Even after wanting out, they still must conduct themselves professionally. Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony are two players who fit this category.
Anthony proved to be the superstar the New York Knicks were hoping for as he consistently performed at a high level for six seasons. But with poor executive decisions, the Knicks began to waste Anthony's all-star years. While he didn't ask to be traded, everyone knew he wanted a fresh start. Even under a regime that was intent on criticizing Anthony, he continued to compete each game. Today, the majority of the Knicks fans appreciate him for embracing one of the most demanding markets in sports.
Davis quickly blossomed into the player the New Orleans Pelicans hoped he'd be when they drafted him with the first pick in 2012. However, they only managed to make the playoffs twice, and in the midst of another losing season Davis expressed his desire to be traded. Despite backlash from fans and being forced to play restricted minutes, Davis still performed at an exceptional level before getting shipped to the Lakers in the offseason.
At the end of the day, players will always have their opinions regardless of whether they're justified or selfish. They know the power their teams are granting them and some will use it for themselves while others don't find it that important. Then again, anytime a star player gets traded, there's always the chance for bitter feelings between all parties involved. But if a he gets traded after years of embracing the responsibility of a star, he'll be remembered for all the right reasons.
There are very few quarterbacks who get the ball with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl with one good ankle and proceed to lead their team right down the field and leave little time remaining. Usually their team either scores with more than enough time left for the other team to score or they have to punt the football back to the opponent.
Unless you have Patrick Mahomes on your team.
He led the Kansas City Chiefs to the Philadelphia Eagles' nine yard line while using up all but eight seconds before Harrison Butker's go ahead field goal made it 38-35. Mahomes was already one of the league's most decorated players thanks to his tremendous arm strength, pocket awareness, and improvisation. With Tom Brady retiring, one can say it's Mahomes' league. Given he now has two MVPs and two Super Bowl MVPs (only the third player to accomplish this feat) it's safe to say he has set the bar for the next generation of young quarterbacks.
During this NFL season, a new wave of elite quarterbacks cemented themselves as the future of the league. With Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady finally showing signs of age, the spotlight fully turned to a number of other signal callers waiting to establish a new age: Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, and Trevor Lawrence. All of those guys have proved themselves as leaders who are capable of elevating their squads. With only Rodgers remaining from the previous era of great quarterbacks, it's now their time to shine. Yet despite their brilliance, they will all be looking up to Mahomes for a long time.
What Patrick Mahomes did this year was nothing short of spectacular. Despite winning the Super Bowl three years ago, some people thought the Chiefs might regress after they traded superstar receiver Tyreek Hill in the offseason. But by the end of the regular season, any talk of a down year was long gone. Mahomes established himself as the frontrunner for MVP right from the start and never looked back. He threw for a career high 5,250 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Chiefs to a 14-3 record. But it was in the playoffs where Mahomes showed how great he truly is.
For the majority of the playoffs, Mahomes played through an ankle sprain that made it difficult for him to walk at times. Yet he continued to add one chapter after another to his incredible career, while taking down the trio of Lawrence, Burrow, and Hurts. Every game saw Mahomes do something incredible. First it was playing the entire second half of the divisional round after injuring his ankle. Then it was defeating Burrow, his supposed kryptonite, in the championship game. He concluded his magical run in the Super Bowl by orchestrating a magnificent second half against one of the league's best defenses that saw Kansas City score on every possession.
Teams always look for a guy who can dramatically change their fortunes the moment he steps on the field. Only a few players can be seen as a franchise-changing pick, but Mahomes fits that category. Kansas City might have been a good team before Mahomes, but with him at the helm along with head coach Andy Reid and tight end Travis Kelce, they are the team to beat. Legendary NBA coach Pat Riley once said "The great ones will lift you above and beyond."
Mahomes has done just that.
Grading My AFC and NFC Predictions
Before the regular season, I decided to make three bold predictions for each conference. In a season filled with plenty of dramatic developments, I felt that it was only fitting to go back and evaluate each prediction. While a couple didn't age well, the majority were pretty respectable. Here are the final grades.
1. Von Miller will be the Final Piece Buffalo Needs: A-
Buffalo might have not made the Super Bowl, but that certainly didn't have anything to do with Von Miller's performance. The future Hall of Fame pass rusher was playing like the difference maker Buffalo paid him to be before tearing his ACL in week 12. While Buffalo's defense still played well without him, they clearly missed his presence in the playoffs as the Bengals' offense gashed them en route to a 27-10 victory. While it's not a guarantee Miller would've changed the outcome, it's a safe bet that the Bills would've been a much different team with him on the field.
2. The Raiders Won't Make the Playoffs: A+
This was one of my most accurate predictions as the Las Vegas Raiders would indeed finish with a disappointing 6-11 record. Even though wide receiver Davante Adams proved to be a terrific acquisition, it wasn't enough to overcome their inability to prevail in tight contests. It's worth noting that I stated teams who win a bunch of nail biters one year usually take a step back the following season, which is exactly what happened. The Raiders lost five games when leading at halftime, with four of those leads being by double digits.
3. Jets Will Have Two Rookie of the Year Winners: B
While the Jets did sweep the Rookie of the Year awards, I'm giving this a B because of who I predicted to win. On the defensive side, I correctly had Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner winning the award. He performed at an all-pro level and already has a legitimate case as the best cornerback in football. However, I had running back Breece Hall winning for offense, and while he was looking like the frontrunner in October, an ACL tear ended any hopes. The award instead went to fellow receiver Garrett Wilson who tallied over 80 receptions and 1,100 yards. Nonetheless this is a high honor given that the Jets became only the third team in NFL history to have two rookies win the award.
1. The Saints Will Have a Better Record Than the Buccaneers: D+
This prediction gets a D+ and rightfully so. I thought that the Saints will come back healthier and regain their status as division champions but I was certainly wrong. If anything, the Saints' championship window looks all but closed after having such a promising future. It's always difficult to replace a legend, and Dennis Allen got first hand experience after succeeding Sean Payton as head coach. The only reason why I'm not giving this an F is because I did mention that the Buccaneers will have a disappointing season, which was the case. They won their division despite finishing 8-9 and were later trounced by the Cowboys.
2. Justin Jefferson Will Win Offensive Player of the Year: A+
I believe this was my best prediction as Jefferson won an award that's difficult for receivers to win. From a statistical standpoint, Jefferson happened the exact way I said he could: by raising his numbers and leading the league in two out of three major receiving categories. Jefferson's touchdowns dropped slightly but his career highs in receptions and receiving yards were both good enough to lead the league. It also helped that Jefferson was the most important player on a Vikings team that won a bunch of close games on their way to a 13-4 record.
3. Trey Lance Will Outperform Jalen Hurts: F-
There is nothing whatsoever that was accurate about this prediction. Trey Lance was expected to be the future quarterback of the 49ers, but played poorly in the season opener before suffering a season ending ankle injury. To make matters worse, the 49ers looked a lot better whether it was Jimmy Garoppolo or Brock Purdy - the likely candidate to start next season - under center. In Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts had a terrific year showing dramatic improvement as a passer while maintaining his skills as a rusher. His play is major reason why the Eagles punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.
In 2022, the Jets actually gave their fans some reasons to be optimistic. They had plenty of young players such as Garrett Wilson, Quinnen Williams, Sauce Gardner, and Breece Hall (when healthy) who emerged as difference makers and helped lead the Jets to a 7-4 record. Unfortunately, none of the players are quarterbacks. In a league where that position is so vital, the Jets couldn't find an answer at the position, whether it was Zach Wilson (right), Mike White (center), and Joe Flacco (left). This ultimately led to a six game losing streak and a 12th year out of the playoffs.
Now that the season is over, fans are already making their wishlists of possible quarterbacks. There will be many quarterbacks available this offseason and while any of them will be an upgrade, there are a variety of factors to consider. Some are easy to evaluate such as their stats, while others like their mental toughness will require more thought. With that being said, here are my preferred options for Jets quarterback.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo
Out of all the four quarterbacks I mention here, Garoppolo is certainly not the flashiest quarterback. He hasn't posted eye-popping stats and can be injury prone, as seen this year. Even with some of these question marks, he is still a productive quarterback who can be consistently relied upon. With a quick release, he is able to utilize the many skill positions the 49ers have. In addition, Garoppolo has climbed into a tie for fifth place for the most victories by a 49er quarterback, despite starting only 55 games since 2017. The 49ers may not need him as of now, but those numbers can't be ignored.
Perhaps Garoppolo's biggest attribute is his resilience. He's had to live up to a record $137 million contract extension in 2018, come back from multiple injuries, and face competition following their selection of Trey Lance in 2021. Despite these obstacles, Garoppolo has continued to perform at an exceptional level and has elevated his teammates in the process. Those qualities in particular make him a perfect fit to play in a big market like New York. The cherry on top is that Garoppolo is one of the cheapest options in free agency, which will make it easy for the Jets to sign him.
2. Aaron Rodgers
When it comes to throwing a football, few can do it better than Aaron Rodgers. He is a lock for Canton thanks to his ability to effortlessly locate the football wherever he wants. Time and time again, Rodgers has the impossible look routine from game winning drives to 70 yard bombs. His resume includes four MVP awards, and a Super Bowl championship. As for his status, the future Hall of Famer could be shipped this off-season and the Jets have been listed as one potential destination. The hiring of his former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to run the Jets' offense has only added more fuel to the possibility.
So with all that greatness, what could possibly draw the Jets back?
For one, Rodgers is on the older side. At 39 years old, Rodgers experienced some decline in his play. This year, he threw the most interceptions in his career since 2008, while his touchdowns took a deep dive. Although Rodgers' season would've been strong for any other quarterback, it is hard to ignore this drastic decline given his age. He also has the reputation of being a jerk who only cares about himself. Rodgers can be thin-skinned, which may not fly with the New York media. If Rodgers got away with throwing shade at the Packers' organization, New York would persecute him for those actions.
3. Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson is another talented quarterback on this list who's a possible option for the Jets. Unlike Rodgers, the 2019 NFL MVP is a dual threat QB whose legs are just as a dangerous as his arm. He has yet to throw for 4,000 yards, but Jackson's mobility has allowed him to make plays, whether it's throwing or running. Since being named the starter midway in his rookie season, Jackson has helped lead the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs in four of the last five years. In addition, the Jets have had the best odds to land Jackson if he decides to leave in free agency.
However, getting him could come at a steep price regardless of how it's done. Before the season, Jackson bet on himself by denying a $250 million contract offer by the Ravens and although it didn't work, the Jets may still have to break the bank to get him in free agency. There's also the possibility the Ravens could franchise tag him, which would require a bevy of assets to acquire him. As talented as Lamar may be, it is always risky to invest most of your future in a quarterback who hasn't fully replicated his MVP year.
4. Derek Carr
While there's still a chance Jackson remains a Raven, it is certain that Derek Carr will not remain a Raider after he was shockingly benched in their last two games. What made this move so surprising was that he had a productive nine seasons with the Raiders. Carr can perfectly place any throw regardless of how short or long it may be. In addition, he has completed over 300 passes every year while throwing for over 4,000 yards in four of them. While many quarterbacks have done this, it is particularly impressive given the revolving door of coaches during his tenure.
There are some downsides to Carr however. While he has often put the Raiders in a position to make the playoffs, he also plays a role in their downfall. Carr has lost more games and thrown more interceptions in December than any other month in his career. Considering that December was when the Jets unraveled, they may have to think twice about getting a quarterback who can be erratic down the stretch.