Tyreek Hill may have just done the Jets a Floridian favor
Those who were preparing to turn their Chad Pennington/Santonio Holmes/Jermaine Kearse/Braxton Berrios jersey into a Tyreek Hill showcase would be advised to put their Sharpies and duct tape back in the drawer.
Tyreek Hill will not become a New York Jets employee, as the superstar receiver, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, is instead taking his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Dolphins.
Wednesday reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter hinted that Hill was granted a choice between the two AFC East rivals with Miami prevailing in exchange for five draft picks. In addition to the picks, Miami will also part with at least $72 million in guaranteed money, part of a four-year, $120 million extension that ends Davante Adams’ brief time as the NFL’s highest-paid receiver.
Like LeBron James’ uprooting before him, this move to Miami was controlled not through the bureaucracy of general managers but rather through the discretion of the player in question. The Chiefs gave permission for Hill to seek a trade after contract extension negotiations stalled prior to his appearance on the 2023 market, but the receiver held most of the power in the dealing thanks to his no-trade clause.
Miami was thus able to secure one of the most explosive offensive talents in recent NFL memory for a relatively low price. The most valuable of the five selections the Dolphins sent over was the 29th overall selection in Las Vegas this April. The Jets’ reported haul for Hill has since been revealed by Schefter (one that kept both of the team’s top ten picks) and only further suggests that Hill spurned metropolitan advances for those just outside Little Havana.
At face value, Hill’s rejection of the Jets for a mediocre Miami team working with a first-year head coach is further fodder for a football-loving public that takes New York’s simplest shortcoming as a guaranteed laugh.
It also lends further credence to a rare criticism of general manager Joe Douglas’ otherwise productive offseason. It’s great that the Jets have hope in a homegrown talent (Elijah Moore) and were able to bring back 2021 breakout star Braxton Berrios at an affordable rate.
There’s no shortage of young playmaker hopefuls in the coming draft, but it’s hard to be satisfied where Corey Davis, especially coming off an injury, is the most established aerial threat in the crucial second season of the Zach Wilson era, one where statistical progress must be made.
Yet, inner peace can reign over the fanbase. Adding Hill was, indeed, one of the rare moves that the Jets could’ve made in the name of instantly leaping into the January 2023 playoff picture. But Hill’s relative rejection allows the Jets to stay patient in the name of attaining a larger, more sustainable goal.
Adding a name like Hill is the transaction a franchise makes when they’re the proverbial “one move away” from the Super Bowl. One could argue that the Dolphins aren’t there either, but that’s another story. Hill’s a talented target and wouldn’t have to play a down in green to be the Jets’ most potent, established offensive threat since Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker’s dueling 1,000-yard outings in the star-crossed 2015 season.
What better way for Wilson to enter his crucial second season than the receiver who has done more than enough to earn the nickname “Cheetah?”
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But consider what happens after this season. Hill’s first extension beyond his rookie contract was an affordable $54 million deal over three years in September 2019, one marred by an investigation into domestic abuse during the preceding offseason.
Over $52 million is already guaranteed to Hill upon his signing and all of his guaranteed rate becomes assured by next spring. In other words, Miami would be well-advised to win immediately—because their ability to contend in the free agency market becomes severely handicapped for the next several seasons.
Ironically enough, an expensive contract has potentially partly contributed to Hill’s Kansas City divorce, amicable as it seems in the immediate aftermath. The major cap hits of the half-billion contract extension offered to Patrick Mahomes loom on the horizon, partly forcing the Chiefs to bid farewell to some of the names that fueled their recent runs of championship prosperity including Damien Williams, Eric Fisher, Charvarius Ward, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle.
Others like Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorenson linger on the free agency block. Some attributed Adams’ new deal, courtesy of the Las Vegas Raiders, as the effect of the new massive contract his old employers in Green Bay bestowed to Aaron Rodgers.
Record-breaking contracts are becoming as much an NFL offseason staple as Schefter himself. There’s no denying that both Mahomes and Rodgers are modern experts in their craft.
But, to that end, such contracts have become the football version of a monkey’s paw: one can keep their franchise legends forever … but at what cost?
Both the Chiefs and Packers have sealed their respective destinies and appear to be content with that. If all else fails, they at least have some semblance of success to fall back on, not least of which is a Super Bowl each for Mahomes and Rodgers.
Miami (as well as Cleveland, who just committed $230 million to Deshaun Watson despite his own legal issues beyond the field) has happily committed to Hill who joins a team with a new head coach (Mike McDaniel) and an unproven quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) that lingered at the cusp of the playoff bracket after winning eight of their final nine.
Are the Jets in any position to make that move, one where they can mortgage their distant future for a taste of instant success and the ability to instantly compete? Douglas has certainly put them on a closer path to doing so if they wanted to choose that route. But the Jets have far too many needs to do that with any semblance of comfort right now.
Hill denied the Jets that instant gratification that satisfies far too many mindsets on the modern professional sports scene. It’s better for that pressure of winning now (especially winning in a division that recently crowned a new dictator from Western New York) to be on each of the shoulders of McDaniel and Tagovailoa rather than Wilson and Robert Saleh.
They couldn’t go into future free agency periods, ones that they hope take place in what comes to be known as the heart of the Wilson era, on any form of handicap.
The Jets have enough problems. They didn’t need to add financial worries to that ever-expanding list.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags