By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The first free-agent news of Tuesday was a whopper. In terms of the money, anyway. And it should surprise no one that this hefty bag o' cash came from the pockets of the New York Jets.
As reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Jets are expected to sign former Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley to a five-year deal worth a maximum of $85 million, including $51 million guaranteed. It makes him by far the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL in terms of AAV and guaranteed money, blowing away even Kwon Alexander's four-year, $54 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers that he agreed to on Monday.
This is just an outrageous sum of money to throw at any inside linebacker. And to be clear, Mosley is arguably the best in the NFL right now at that position. He's been a second team All-Pro linebacker for four of his first five seasons. He's also a four-time Pro Bowler who racked up 105 tackles, five pass breakups, and an interception in 15 games in 2018.
But an inside linebacker making $17 million annually? While Luke Kuechly is set to make a $10 million salary and Bobby Wagner is making $10.5 million?
Compare it to the Patriots' core linebackers who are on the 2019 roster as of Tuesday. Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Ja'Whaun Bentley are on track to make just over $16 million combined total cash in 2019.
Mosley is simply the latest free agent to dive into a pile of cash, Scrooge McDuck-style. Considering the Jets' futility in recent years despite continually spending big on top free agents, it's likely they end up more like Peter Griffin. Here's who else they're expected to sign once NFL free agency officially kicks off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday:
Barr's contract will be less than Mosley's in terms of AAV. But considering the dump trucks of money rolling around the league, he's likely to get north of $10 million annually. (UPDATE: Apparently, Barr has decided to stay with the Vikings instead of sign with the Jets.)
To be fair to the Jets, they've assembled quite the defense on paper. Mosley and Barr join a corps that already includes pass rusher Leonard Williams, All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, linebacker Avery Williamson, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. On offense, Crowder has a chance to be a productive slot receiver for Darnold.
There's nothing inherently wrong with spending while you have the room. The idea in New York (I think) is that they can surround franchise quarterback Sam Darnold with high-end talent at other positions while he's on his rookie contract. Darnold is set to make just $1.8 million in real money in 2019. It's the same approach that the Eagles took with Carson Wentz in 2017, and they won the Super Bowl (albeit with Nick Foles). The Rams did the same last season with Jared Goff, and they almost won the Super Bowl.
But, as L.A. found out the hard way against the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, the 2019 Jets will come down to the performance of their quarterback. Not their $85 million inside linebacker. Unless Darnold emerges as a high-end quarterback within the next 3-5 years, it's likely that this latest spending spree will be all for naught. Again.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].