It’s a baffling International Mystery: what happened to the Jets… in free agency?
After coming out of the gate with some in-house movement including the franchising and subsequent extension of PK Nick Folk and modest contracts for players like Leger Douzable, Jeff Cumberland and Ellis Lankster, the Jets released CB Antonio Cromartie and WR Santonio Holmes leaving them with over $35M in cap space.
It seemed that a release or sizable cap reduction of QB Mark Sanchez would’ve naturally followed giving the Jets even more serious free agent clout to begin filling holes. Oh and there are holes. One and only one of which was at WR, OG, TE, OLB, CB and S and at least a few others.
Despite the situation the Jets found themselves in, they were restrained in their spending coming off the gate but were having a lot of conversations. It seemed like they were naturally formulating a plan. Which, in contrast to the frenetic and often reactionary ways of former GM Mike Tannenbaum, seemed to be an encouraging sign. The Jets wanted to retain RT Austin Howard but when he received ridiculous money from Oakland he naturally took it. By day 3, the Jets got around to their first move and back filled the vacated RT spot by adding Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini at more reasonable money. It wasn’t cheap but a solid decision to fill that need.
Later that night, they landed their first big fish in WR Eric Decker signing him to a 5 year $36.25M deal and it appeared like they were getting their ducks in a row and ready to move forward with plenty on the board. Not so fast, since then it has been crickets while the top of the market has now been pretty much picked over.
Well, in the last of couple of days, they have brought back 34 year-old OLB Calvin Pace to fill the edge spot he was set to vacate and that at 2 years $5M. Pace’s 10 sack season has been the topic of much dissection this off-season with several breakdowns on how it was more system than performance related. And this was a player who played last year at near minimum after showing several years of decline. It’s certainly not an upgrade at a spot that seemed to need one and it’s questionable as to what Pace still even has left. Not to mention the lack of any viable in-house developmental candidates to realistically challenge for a starting job.
As far as the other spots, the Jets have seemed generally disinterested in adding much at all. They waited out the CB market into oblivion reportedly allowing the last top free agent at the position to walk across the street to the Giants and do a deal before they came back to him after it was too late. Now they’re stuck scrambling at the position with their best alternative being a return of Antonio Cromartie whose leverage just jumped significantly. If the Jets miss out on that, it would be really embarrassing. Even more so than the fact that they’re forced to crawl back to him to begin with.
Either way, it seems imperative that the Jets do something soon somewhere. There are still plenty of questions on this roster and, while the pickings are getting slimmer by the day, they are still sitting on nearly $28M in cap space. They really could use anything, anywhere right now. Even places they have viable starters (such as DL) have depth issues.
One of the more baffling things in all of this is that Jets have been so preoccupied at WR. They seem to have been linked to numerous ones all along and even after landing Decker, their only real “addition” to this point. And still the names we are hearing as of late have been players like James Jones (before they lost him to Oakland) and Sidney Rice.
To me this preoccupation at that spot harkens back to the mistake they made in investing sizable resources into Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. I surmised at that time that the idea was to improve and accelerate Sanchez’ curve by surrounding him with talent even at considerable cost. It didn’t work. It may have made Sanchez go from awful to below average, but that was hardly a return on investment. It appears to me that Idzik may be falling into the same trap at that spot and trying to justify Geno. The Jets have more roster issues than just WR and they need to get to it.
Just today things went from bad to worse with reports beginning to surface that the Jets had an issue in negotiations with representations made to a free agent, that the rest of organization is stymied at Idzik’s snail like pace in the process and that Rex Ryan is fuming at losing out the entire CB market.
Last year was a pretty light lifting off-season for John Idzik. Outside of the Revis trade, all he had to do was cut a bunch of bad contracts and see what he could do late stage with what little he had left over. This was really year one of the full on build going forward and it couldn’t have gotten off to a more auspicious start.
Now all of this is assuming that like in any good missing jet story, there isn’t a massive conspiracy at work. I could see a theory where Idzik was never on board with Rex’s extension and is trying sabotage him. Well, he’s doing a lousy job of it if that’s the case as his job would look far likely to be on the line if something doesn’t happen soon.