Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has said his front office will be active in free agency come March. And when that time comes, multiple sources told Newsday, the Jets will look at pending free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Maccagnan and the personnel staff continue to meet, and a source said the Jets haven’t made final determinations on which free agents they will seek out.
The Jets have a projected $80 million in salary-cap space for 2018 that will balloon to at least $100 million with expected cuts of veterans such as Muhammad Wilkerson and Matt Forte.
Cousins, 29, has been franchised the last two seasons by the Redskins after failing to reach a deal on a long-term contract. Washington franchised Cousins for the 2017 season with a price tag of $23.9 million. If a player is franchised a third consecutive year, that salary increases by 144 percent, based on the collective-bargaining agreement.
Cousins, who has started only one playoff game, probably is the best available quarterback on the market. He completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 4,093 yards and threw 27 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions in 2017.
If the Redskins place the transition player tag on Cousins, another team can offer him a long-term deal. The Redskins then would have the chance to match it or let him go.
The Jets have the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. A source said if they can’t find a long-term answer at quarterback in free agency that suits them financially, selecting one in April will become the best option.
Of course, the Jets have their own free-agency issues at quarterback because 2017 starter Josh McCown will hit the open market. Last month, McCown told Newsday he will discuss his options with his family before making a decision on whether to retire or play in 2018.
The Jets are not just thinking of using their available cap space on quarterbacks, because a source said they are interested in Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. With the Jets expected to release Wilkerson, there is a need to find another edge pass rusher for Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense.
Lawrence, while playing end in a 4-3 scheme, tied for second in the NFL with 14 1⁄2 sacks. He could move to outside linebacker for the Jets. At 6-3, 251 pounds, he is more in line with Jets outside linebackers Josh Martin (6-3, 245) and Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 259). Bowles likes bigger defensive ends who also can play inside, such as Leonard Williams (6-5, 302) and Wilkerson (6-4, 315).
The Cowboys could franchise Lawrence if they can’t work out a long-term deal.
One of the Jets’ free agents, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, has had contract talks with the team, a source said. The Jets offered him a two-year, $8-million deal and were rejected, but they will continue talks with his representatives. Seferian-Jenkins had career highs in receptions (50) and yards (357) and had three touchdown catches.