NFL Experts Say Jets Aren't As Far Away From Contention As You Might Think

Author:
Publish date:

Coming off a two-win season, with the longest active postseason drought in the NFL, the Jets have a long way to go before returning to the playoffs. 

According to a panel of NFL analysts from ESPN, in a piece posted on Tuesday, New York isn't as far away from contention as it may seem.

Rather than falling in the "trust the process" category, featuring the bottom tier of teams that are four-plus years away from becoming a Super Bowl contender, New York is listed as an organization "on the upswing."

In other words, if all goes well, New York's window of championship contention will be open once again in three years. 

Here's ESPN's Rich Cimini explaining the Jets' best strategy to becoming a contender for a championship in three years:

It's all about building through the draft. The Jets have five picks in the first three rounds, including Nos. 2 and 23. They also have two first-rounders in 2022. Basically, general manager Joe Douglas bailed on the 2020 season as soon as he traded star safety Jamal Adams, shifting the focus to the future. Their plan is to draft their way back to relevance, using free agency ($63 million in cap room) as a supplement.

Other teams in the Jets' time frame include the Jaguars, Giants and Patriots. Below them, in the lowest tier, are the Texans, Eagles, Bengals and Lions. 

According to Cimini, the biggest X factor for New York going forward is their quarterback situation. Will they stick with Sam Darnold? Trade for Deshaun Watson? Or draft a rookie?

While everyone knows what they're getting with Watson, he'll cost quite a few picks (and potentially players too) to make a deal possible. The other two options are risky in their own ways.

By this logic, Jets fans can target the 2023 season as the first year in quite some time that New York will have a shot to make the playoffs and do some damage in the AFC. No guarantees, of course, as general manager Joe Douglas and new head coach Robert Saleh have plenty of important decisions to make over the next several months to get the ball rolling that direction. Only time will tell if this franchise can return to contention by then.

MORE: 

To see the rest of the rankings from ESPN, click here.

Follow Max Goodman on Twitter (@MaxTGoodman), on Facebook (also @MaxTGoodman), be sure to bookmark Jets Country and check back daily for news, analysis and more.