For the New York Jets, this first week of free agency has seen its ups and downs. For fans, panic started to set in early after witnessing little activity from Mike Maccagnan during the first day and then watching Kirk Cousins go to the Vikings on the second. However, things began to pick up after that, with the Jets making a flurry of signings.
While some acquisitions are a bit questionable, there were some that should make Jets fans excited.
Namely, the Trumaine Johnson contract. Johnson was one of the best corners in the league (I don’t care that PFF doesn’t like him) and will finally provide the Jets with a true number one corner, something they have been lacking arguably since Darelle Revis tore his ACL back in 2012. He will also provide much needed support to young safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, helping with their development.
His five-year contract worth over $70 million is huge, but it is a year to year contract after 2019, which is really good for the Jets. Johnson is only 28 now and probably shouldn’t see any decline in his play until at least that year; if the Jets are lucky, there might not be much of a decline for the full five years.
Another good contract was that given to Teddy Bridgewater. For only a $5 million cap hit, a one-year contract to an unproven young quarterback is a great deal for the Jets. It’s unlikely he’ll become the quarterback of the future, but it’s worth giving him a shot at that price.
What’s unfortunate is that he might not have much of a shot because the Jets overpaid to bring back 39-year-old Josh McCown. McCown at $10 million will just function to clog the quarterback rotation in training camp.
The Jets must still draft a rookie despite signing these two quarterbacks and, with three quarterbacks on the roster competing for the starting job, getting important reps for the rookie might become difficult. I like the man and his leadership last year was invaluable, but McCown was probably the worst signing for the Jets thus far. I wish the Jets had the ability to bring him back as a quarterbacks’ coach instead.
Another somewhat strange signing was Isaiah Crowell. His contract is team friendly with only $4 million guaranteed over three years, but I think the Jets would have been better off finding a running back in the draft. Crowell never really impressed with the Browns; he always received a lot of preseason breakout-year hype, but never lived up to it. We’ll see if he does better with the Jets.
The Jets signing Spencer Long was another middle of the road acquisition, in my opinion. Long is a decent center and much better than Wesely Johnson, which is good. However, he does have an injury history which could be dangerous for the Jets.
The Jets resigning Morris Claiborne to a one year, $7 million contract is another decent move. Claiborne played well at the beginning of last season, but his play dropped off towards the end after sustaining an injury. The Jets must continue to be active in the outside corner-back market because they cannot trust Claiborne to remain healthy all season. I’d like to see them make a run at E.J. Gaines.
To end on a high note, the Jets got linebacker Avery Williamson on a three-year contract that is something like $7.5 million per year. This is a good move by Maccagnan to replace Demario Davis with this younger, more consistent linebacker. Williamson is very similar to Davis except he is only 26, cheaper, and still has room to grow.
The Jets also hired Cairo Santos to be their new kicker, who is arguably an upgrade from Chandler Cantanzaro.
The Jets still have a long way to go in free agency (and still around $50 million to spend). As I said, they should still try to find another outside corner. They should also try to pursue Tyrann Mathieu. If they manage to get him and Gaines, they should probably have one of the top secondaries in the league. The Jets should also try to find a pass rusher and some backup d-linemen. Also, if the Jets could manage to get Micheal Crabtree who was just released by the Raiders, that would be icing on the cake.
All in all, I would say that Macc has done a pretty above average job so far. He’s obviously learned from his mistakes in the past of signing older players to huge contracts; so far the oldest player he’s given a significant contract to is Trumaine Johnson and he’s only 28. I also think that it was wise to not break the bank for Kirk Cousins (although I’m not sure Kirk would have come here even if the Jets offered $40 million per year). Cousins is an above average quarterback, but look at all the weapons the Jets can still potentially acquire with that money!
So far I’d give Mike Maccagnan a B with room to improve.
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