As we know, this year our Ex GM and cap pinching extraordinaire John Idzik, handed over the Jets to new GM Mike Maccagnan from Houston. Idzik left the team’s roster looking rather uninspiring and it was to be Mike’s job to reignite this franchise and rebuild a winning team.
To have a winning team you need great players and to have great players you need money. To our fortunes, the one thing Idzik was good at was saving money. Idzik actually left the Jets in one of the strongest financial positions in the league, practically perfect for a team looking to go full circle and rebuild. Mike was quoted at the combine saying, “we will be very active in free agency”, and now currently 1 week in, we are left positively astounded.
The first area that was addressed involved an unexpected trade with the Chicago Bears. The Jets traded a late draft round pick for WR Brandon Marshall. It was later confirmed the Jets gave Chicago their 5th round pick of the 2015 draft, for Marshall’s services. A trade subsequently seeming a steal for the Jets who were busy debating Percy Harvin’s future and would otherwise be our seeking a ‘true no1 receiver’. The deal was sweetened further when it was reported the Jets actually gained another 7th rounder in the process. Certainly a deal thought impossible under Idzik’s control and a great start for Maccagnan.
With a team that had no 1000 yard receivers in 2014, Brandon Marshall is a strong addition. A total that only Eric Decker, who’s seen as a no2 got close to. Marshall has had multiple 1000 yard years, seven on the bounce to be exact and with his inclusion, the Jets can hopefully have a true 1-2 receiving core, unmatched since Chrebet and Keyshawn.
I understand that a wide receiver will never reach such heights unless the guy throwing the ball has something about him too. The QB position was left as an interesting project with Geno now not invested to Maccagnan and Bowles, but also in his final year of contract. Basically meaning if he doesn’t perform this year his time could well be up.
Debates developed early between whether the Jets would acquire a veteran or draft a QB. What was obvious however was that Geno wouldn’t be looked so kindly on and no starter job would be gifted to him like last year. Geno has never truly experienced a real competition for first choice, Rex always handed the role to him lightly, but the move the Jets made this free agency should change that.
The QBs dubbed to the hit free agency market were nothing to rave about, nevertheless following the Texans resigning Ryan Mallet and later acquiring Brain Hoyer, the Jets would make the smart trade for Ryan Fitzpatrick. A QB that both Maccagnan and Bowles had both shared experiences with. This leaves Geno Smith in an opposite position he was in last year. The new office does know what Ryan can bring to the table and if Geno doesn’t match the standard he had shown in Miami, it’s likely the more experienced Fitzpatrick will get the nod. Fitzpatrick was a smart move because he only cost the Jets the pick they acquired from the Chicago trade and Ryan’s salary was more than affordable. (Plus his beard is awesome – THE BEARD)
Granted, Fitzpatrick is nowhere near amazing and won’t necessarily deliver a Superbowl, but he’s another smart move by Maccagnan who does also still have the option to draft another QB at six overall.
The Jets and Maccagnan also saw to another area of much needed address, the offensive line. A top of most people’s wishes list was Mike Iupati and Orlando Frankin. Although this wasn’t to be for the Jets as those two were taken early. Maccagnan turned to the services of James Carpenter OG out of Seattle. While Carpenter may not have been the most sought after player, James had been to the last two Superbowls, winning one himself. His experience and skills could prove vital, as it does appear we may have a QB in the pocket that will need as much time as possible to make their play. Lets hope Carpenter can help.
Lastly and possibly the area the Jets needed to fix the most was the secondary. In the 2014 season, the Jets secondary only caught six interceptions. A turnover ratio of -18. Questionably, a vast majority of blame went to the offence and Geno Smith for turning over the ball so many times, however, it was our weak secondary that also lacked in making plays and helping turn the games back around. Again, at the Combine presser, Bowles stated that the secondary needs addressing and the Jets need to work on turning the ball over more than gifting turnovers.
The cornerback market in this year free agency was one of the strongest its ever been. This was music to the ears of Jets fan, as we knew we needed plenty of them and knew the franchise had the money to pay for them. Names such as Kareem Jackson, Byron Maxwell, Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and many others, all likely to be up for grabs. As the Jets needed to improve in many areas, I hoped Jackson and Maxwell would be Maccagnan’s first targets. However, Jackson resigned to the Texans on 4 year deal for $34 million and Maxwell went to Philly for 6 years, $63 Million.
Not only was I annoyed the Jets didn’t grab one of them; I was worried about the amount they were going for. The bar was set at the cornerback position, meaning only likely to rise the ‘Best cornerback in the game” Darrelle Revis’ salary even further. As Revis’ future was still undecided, the Jets turned to pick up Buster Skrine, a likely slot replacement for Kyle Wilson, the 1st round pick that far from worked out.
Then suddenly, nine or so hours into free agency, social media lit up with news that shocked and delighted Jets fans. Darrelle Revis had agreed a contract with New York and it was a whopper, 5 years $70 Million. Revis was coming home. I will totally stand by my objections against signing Revis and handing over that kind of money, but by this point most of the hot properties were signing for other teams and it was time the Jets made a splash.
To mention the need to sign cornerbacks and making Revis one of them, that’s a huge statement to make. It instantly put Mike Maccagnan in ‘legend’ territory. Except what was to follow was to put this ecstatic moment into overdrive. With Antonio Cromartie stating he missed New York and would gladly reunite with old HC Todd Bowles, it was inevitable the Jets would aggressive chase him down too. Shortly after, the Batman and Robin partnership was complete. Cro signed a 4 year deal for $32 Million and the Jets went from having one of the worst cornerback troops in the NFL to one that looks like it means business.
Not long after Cro, Mike added a forth player to the Jets secondary. He signed Marcus Gilchrist S from San Diego. Gilchrist was a good signing as last years 1st round pick Calvin Pryor had a mixed bag of performances and it is likely Marcus can take the pressure off him and give him some space to grow, whilst also being a solid SS/FS himself.
A huge amount of money was invested this week, but it was invested in areas that will only benefit the team. Maccagnan may have been gifted the opportunity to sign all of these players due to Idzik’s lack or unwillingness to do so, however it would still take a GM with motivation and a vision to pull it of. Big Macc was born this week and we are all excited for the year ahead. Well done Mike Maccagnan and finally thanks, John Idzik.
“And the home of the Jets”