There is no more accomplished coaching candidate on the market right now than former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, and there isn't likely to be one when this season is over. His record is stellar. He's coached a string of top-10 offenses. He even has a Super Bowl ring.
He could be exactly the coach the Jets need to turn around the star-crossed franchise.
Of course, that might be what they're thinking in Cleveland and Tampa Bay -- and maybe Cincinnati, Baltimore, Denver and a few other cities, too.
In other words, the 55-year-old McCarthy will have options. And if he does, why would he choose the Jets?
"That's probably not the most attractive job," one NFL agent who represents several NFL coaches said. "Having a young quarterback and $100 million to spend is good. But they have nothing else on offense. Plus, how long is (GM) Mike Maccagnan going to be there? That's huge, because a new coach wants to know he'll get time to turn things around."
The Maccagnan issue is a big one, according to multiple NFL sources. The Jets are not expected to fire him after this season, as SNY has reported, even if they fire coach Todd Bowles, which they are expected to do. But Maccagnan has only one more year left on his contract, and the last thing a coach with options will want is to work for a lame-duck GM and an organization that could be in for another major shakeup a year from now.
That issue can be worked out -- perhaps with a short contract extension for Maccagnan. But the talent issue could be harder for the Jets to overcome. They do have a promising, young quarterback in Sam Darnold, but they are weak at almost every other position on offense. On defense, they have pieces to build around, but they don't have a pass rush. And with some terrible returns from their recent drafts, they'll have to make some big splashes in free agency -- which isn't usually the best way to build a team.
"Cleveland might be a much better situation," one NFL executive said. "(Baker) Mayfield looks like the real deal, and he's got a receiver (Jarvis Landry), running back (Nick Chubb) and tight end (David Njoku). They've got a stud on defense (Myles Garrett), plenty of cap room (an estimated $85 million in 2019), and a new GM with a four-year deal (John Dorsey).
"They're going to win soon there. That might be the place to go."
Not coincidentally, that's where many people believe McCarthy will end up. Dorsey, their first-year GM, is a former Packers executive who ran the scouting department in Green Bay (2000-11) and later football operations (2012) while McCarthy was their head coach. And since Dorsey already fired Browns head coach Hue Jackson, he's free to move on McCarthy now.
The other places that could have vacancies -- like Tampa Bay, Denver, Baltimore and Cincinnati -- all have potentially better situations than the Jets too. All those teams have more talent on their roster. Most of them have a franchise quarterback and a decent amount of 2019 cap room, too.
Plus, all of them are not New York, and that could be significant. McCarthy is known to be a bit sensitive to criticism, and the only media he's dealt with has been a small and relatively friendly group in Green Bay, the smallest market in the NFL. No one seems sure how he'd handle the New York spotlight, with its 24-hour coverage and tabloid back pages -- or if he'd even want to try.
"If he thought they were rough on him (in Green Bay), what's he going to think in New York?" the executive said. "Why would he jump into that fire if he has an easier option someplace else?"
It's a good question that only McCarthy can answer. And he might have to, soon.
"Everyone is looking for the next Sean McVay," the executive said, referring to the 32-year-old head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. "But those guys aren't easy to project. Guys with McCarthy's resume don't come free often. A lot of teams are going to want him. He's going to have a choice.
"And I'm not sure his top choice will be the Jets."