CHICAGO -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Let's make a deal: The NFL trading deadline is Tuesday and if there's one thing we know about general manager Mike Maccagnan, he likes to wheel and deal.
Five veteran players on the roster were acquired via trade -- wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, defensive end Henry Anderson, safety Terrence Brooks, long snapper Thomas Hennessy and cornerback Rashard Robinson, an 11th-hour pick-up at last year's deadline. Let's not forget about The Big Deal before the draft, which led them to quarterback Sam Darnold. That allowed Maccagnan to deal from an area of strength, resulting in the Teddy Bridgewater trade.
Is another trade on the horizon?
My understanding is, yes, there's a chance, although the circumstances will make it tough. At 3-4, the Jets fall into that gray area between "buyer" and "seller." They don't want to give up on the season -- see: New York Giants -- but they also don't want to compromise their future by trading draft picks for a short-term fix. Basically, they're in no-man's land.
That said, Maccagnan & Co. are working the phones, as usual. They check out everything, including the big names. Remember the Le'Veon Bell flirtation, which lasted about a minute? Because of injuries, they're sniffing around the wide-receiver market, although it's hard to imagine them giving up something of value for, say, Demaryius Thomas. If anything, they'd probably look for a street free agent, perhaps Brice Butler, whom they worked out a few days ago. There's always the Terrelle Pryor option, when he's healthy.
The Jets don't have many players in demand. Some of their top players are either injured or have contracts that are cap-heavy and can't be traded. I checked with two personnel executives from other teams, and they said the only players with trade appeal (healthy with movable contracts) are defensive end Leonard Williams, linebacker Darron Lee and running back Isaiah Crowell. I don't see the Jets trading any of those players.
If the Jets do a deal, it would be something that helps them now and in the future. Cap room, of course, is no issue. I'd be surprised if something gets done, but, hey, you never know with Trader Mike. A year ago, coach Todd Bowles was caught off guard when he learned from the media that Robinson had been acquired. The outcome of Sunday's game could factor into the game plan. A 4-4 record looks a lot different than 3-5.
2. Small (coaching) world: There's a cool back story to the Bowles-Matt Nagy matchup. Nagy's father, Bill, was the defensive-line coach for Elizabeth (New Jersey) High School in the early 1980s, and it had a promising player named Todd Bowles. When Bowles & Co. played a high school championship game at the old Giants Stadium, Matt Nagy -- an infant -- was in the stands.
"His dad is a heck of a guy and I've known [Matt] pretty much, it seems like forever," Bowles said.
“When I was raised, the only thing I ever heard about growing up was about this great player named Todd Bowles,” said Nagy, the Chicago Bears' coach. “I got his Topps playing card back in the ’90s when he was with the Redskins. That was one of my first cards I ever got."
3. The quiet man: Bilal Powell is a man of few words, a football grinder who has no interest in seeing his name in the headlines or his face on TV, which makes him a rarity among today's athletes. In the locker room, though, he carries plenty of clout. He's the longest-tenured player on the team and one of the most respected. That's why news of his season-ending neck injury hit hard.
Nose tackle Steve McLendon, a man of many words who often speaks to the team, revealed to me that much of his inspiration comes from Powell, who is only one locker away. McLendon said Powell sometimes texts him nuggets of wisdom that he incorporates into his speeches to the team.
"Most people think the quotes come from me, but I give a lot of that credit to him," McLendon said. "He always uplifted me, every single day."
Powell will be feted by his teammates on Tuesday. He's throwing himself a birthday party -- he turned 30 on Saturday -- and he's not going to let his pending surgery ruin the occasion.
4. Snap judgment: Center Spencer Long dislocated the middle finger on his right hand a while back, resulting in a number of off-target shotgun snaps in recent weeks. An errant snap, even if it's barely outside the strike zone, can disrupt the timing of a play. It's kind of a big deal.
Here's a thought: Why not adjust by putting Darnold under center? Compared with other teams, the Jets aren't a big shotgun team -- they're in the gun only 57 percent of the time -- but they can reduce the chances of a hiccup by lowering the number. Just a thought.
Long, also dealing with a knee injury, is questionable for the game.
5. Lot of Ls: The Jets have a knack for catching opponents when they're down. The Bears have lost two in a row, which means four of the last six Jets opponents entered the game on losing streaks. It'll be five out of seven because the Miami Dolphins, on tap next week, have dropped two straight. What does it mean? I'm not sure exactly. Just a random thought.
6. Best practice squad money can buy: When it comes to assembling the 10-man practice squad, the Jets spare no expense. In fact, they have the highest-paid practice squad in the league, according to overthecap.com. It's $2.4 million, based on the cap charges.
By rule, a practice-squad player must earn at least $7,600 per week, which is $129,000 over a full season. To attract talent, and to keep players from signing elsewhere, teams will often pay more than the minimum wage. The Jets have four players earning at least $300,000 -- quarterback Davis Webb ($554,999), guard Ben Braden ($423,525), defensive end Bronson Kaufusi ($391,764) and running back D'Angelo Henderson ($300,000), per OTC. On Saturday, Henderson was signed to the 53-man roster.
The Jets have plenty of cap room, so it makes sense to spend a little extra money in the name of player development.
7. Heady decisions: In recent years, a concussion usually was a one-game injury. In 2017, there were seven documented concussions on the Jets, and not one of those seven players missed more than one game.
This season, tight end Neal Sterling sat out three games and cornerback Buster Skrine missed two (he's expected to play against the Bears). Linebacker Josh Martin suffered a concussion in Week 4, his second in a five-week span, and was placed on injured reserve for the season.
Obviously, each case is unique, and a lot can be based on a player's history, but it's a trend worth noting.
8. Fun fact: Andre Roberts is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season as a return specialist. He leads the NFL with an 18.8-yard average, and he already has five returns (three punt, two kickoff) for at least 40 yards. The last Jets player to have multiple 40-yard punt and kickoff returns was JoJo Townsell, way back in 1987.