In addition to choosing the right players in this year’s NFL draft, which begins tonight (Thursday), the New York Jets must intensify their efforts to sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, salary cap issues notwithstanding.

Fitzpatrick, 33, was traded to the Jets last year by the Houston Texans. Expecting to back up Geno Smith, Fitzpatrick was given the starting position at the beginning of the season and excelled throughout, guiding the Jets to a 10-6 record, the best season of his career and the best the Jets have had in several years.

Fitzpatrick provided the stability and consistency that the Jets lacked at the quarterback position. Although they missed the playoffs by one game, he surpassed all expectations and instilled a confidence and leadership that was lacking.

For a player Fitzpatrick’s age, you wouldn’t advocate for General Manager Mike Maccagnan to issue a long-term contract, but based on the money recently doled out to Sam Bradford in Philadelphia—two years, $35 million—and Brock Osweiler, the former Denver Bronco—four years, $72 million—even though they lack the experience and intangibles that Fitzpatrick brought to the table, Fitzpatrick is deserving of a salary that’s respectable.

The situation with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is why it’s difficult to not side with players seeking extensions to their contract. Wilkerson broke his leg during the last game of last season. It wasn’t a career-ending injury, but suppose it had been?

The Jets will be on the clock six times during this draft. Maybe a quarterback and/or a defensive end is on their list of picks. They’ll have the 20th pick in round 1, the 51st pick in round 2, the 83rd pick in round 3, the 118th in round 4 and the 235th and 241st picks in round 7. There are 32 teams, 7 rounds and 253 picks overall.