The reigning GM of the year has been at it again this year. Sure, the moves made this offseason are not as high profile as last season’s, but with a limited budget Mike Maccagnan has once again been an offseason wizard. In a mere two years, Maccagnan and his staff have helped turned the New York Jets from a media circus to a team that is desirable for players.
Heading into the offseason, the NY Jets were well aware that Chris Ivory was on his way out of town. With the contracts of Bilal Powell and Steven Ridley also expiring, the Jets backfield could have taken a huge hit. The brass answered by signing arguably the best running back in free agency, Matt Forte to a team friendly deal. Let us not also discount the resigning of Powell who was a huge part of the NY Jets five game winning streak last year, and the signing of Khiry Robinson who is a more than capable back to handle the number three duties. Maccagnan signed all three running backs to a total of $5.9 million this season; meanwhile the average yearly pay of Chris Ivory’s new contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars is $6.4 million. Forte is a duel threat running back that is poised to put up more yards from scrimmage than Ivory did, and Forte and his supporting cast cost less than Ivory; win for Mike and company.
Contract talks with Ryan Fitzpatrick seem to be all over the news. The team has always showed interest in re-signing Fitz. Problem between the two sides is money. Fitz believes he is worth $14-$15 million a year while the New York Jets only want to pay him half of that. Maccagnan wants to see Fitz come back to lead the troops, but does not believe Fitz is worth the money he is commanding. To prove his point, he did not give into the demands of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and let him go find out for himself that no one would be willing to pay a 33-year-old journeyman quarterback similar to the like of franchise quarterbacks like Andy Dalton. The result? Fitz received a nibble from the Broncos, but only if his contract demands were lowered. Ryan by now has to see that he needs the Jets, as they are his best chance to start, even if that means lowering his demands.
The defense has been a strong point for the Jets for years. A big part of the run defense was Damon Harrison. Losing him could be felt, but keeping him and signing him to a five year $46.25 million like the Giants did was just not an option for the salary cap strapped Jets. There has been talk of switching to a 4-3 to employ Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams at the same time. The other spot could be utilized by two guys they signed in wake of losing Harrison, Steve McLendon a starter for the Steelers last season , and Jarvis Jenkins a starter for the Bears, to team friendly contracts. Maccagnan was also able to re-sign Erin Henderson and sign Bruce Carter (former Buccaneer) to a low risk high reward contracts. The two should be in completion for a starting gig against each other as well as any draft picks. Mike was able to pull in four starting caliber players while only losing one key piece of the defense.
So, for anyone panicking about the lack of a quarterback or money to spend, to quote Aaron Rodgers, RELAX! There is a reason that Mike Maccagnan won GM of the year last year, so sit back, have faith, and watch Magic Mike come through yet again.