New York Jets Free Agency Week 1: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tackle Breno Giacomini (68) celebrates with the crowd after the Seattle Seahawks scored a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The free agency period has begun and we are now on Day 6 of the process. The Jets, so far, have a big-ticket acquisition in Eric Decker, a solid right tackle to replace Austin Howard in Breno Giacomini, a team-friendly deal with Jeff Cumberland, a long-term deal with Nick Folk and have recently re-signed Calvin Pace. As of Sunday night the Jets are negotiating with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, as are the Giants and perhaps the Browns, but have not signed him as yet. Also Willie Colon‘s tweets from Saturday night, where he was wearing his Jets’ attire and saying that it must be an omen when looking at an all-green Empire State Building, leads one to believe that he will re-sign as well as soon as he is healthy enough to pass a physical.

The Good

1) The Jets sign Eric Decker - The Jets signed Eric Decker, the consensus number 1 receiver in this free agent class, to a five-year deal averaging $7.25 million/year with $15 million guaranteed. It had been estimated that Decker would fetch $8-10 million per year before the market opened. A 6’3″ receiver that is an expert route-runner with enough speed to go deep, Decker is a good weapon to have in the development of Geno Smith. Now he will have a 2nd security blanket to go to when a tough 3rd down arises not just having to rely on Jeremy Kerley. The knock on Decker is he is not a “number 1 receiver’ which makes no sense at all since the Jets are looking to not only sign another free agent during the free agency period but also invest a high draft pick in one, so Decker wouldn’t be the only receiver out there and have to carry everything. Even a receiving core of Decker, Odell Beckham Jr., Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson with Jeff Cumberland as a receiving tight end  are enough weapons to make this offense much more potent than the ones of recent years.

2) The acquisition of Giacomini and the impending re-signing of Willie Colon makes this one of the nastiest lines in the league - Breno Giacomini, a two-year starter for the Seahawks at right tackle, is known for trash talking, taking plays up to and sometimes beyond the whistle and for bringing a mean, nasty attitude to right tackle. Willie Colon had that same fire last year for the Jets and getting two players like this will get the offensive line back in the mindset of 2009 & 2010, where they were physical and dominated their opponents. There is risk with Giacomini as he is two years older than Howard at 28 and he doesn’t have the “upside” that Howard has, but he was good enough to start and be part of the great success of the Seahawks the last two years. Like Howard, Giacomini worked his way up from the practice field and remains hungry and with a chip on his shoulder because of it. The way the contract with Giacomini is structured, the Jets can get out of it with a cap savings of $750,000 after this year so it is basically a one year deal with very little risk.

3) Bringing Calvin Pace back gives the Jets depth and flexibility - Calvin Pace had his best year of his Jets career statistically in 2013. He registered ten sacks and benefitted from the attention paid to Wilkerson, Richardson and later in the year Coples. Pace was able to get 1 on 1 match ups and, in some cases, free rushes on the quarterback. Calvin is a veteran presence in a locker room full of young players so his experience and leadership is needed. The Jets now don’t “need” an outside linebacker but if they see one they want in the draft or a free agent bargain they can still add because Pace is only making $2.5 mil/year.

4) John Idzik has a plan and is going to stick to it no matter what - If there is one thing we have learned about John Idzik it is that he is not going to be swayed by public pressure, or any other outside influence to veer away from his plan of building for sustained long-term success, mostly through the draft. He will draw a line in the sand with a player and will not cross it as he did in the Austin Howard negotiation. He will not sign a poor contract that ties the Jets up long-term with a player. He will not reveal his plan, players that visit, players he has interest in or anything he doesn’t want to say to the media. Every one will find out when it happens. That is extremely good for the franchise but extremely frustrating for the fan base. The fans want to know what the plan is and what the final product is going to look like now but unfortunately everybody is going to have to wait.

5) The media has no idea what is going on inside of the Jets’ facility - The Jets have announced every signing of the John Idzik era via their team’s Twitter account. The only rumors of the Jets being interested in a player comes from that player’s agent and most times aren’t true. The only way that the media knows that a player has visited is through their agent. The building is in complete lockdown which is the exact opposite of the way Mike Tannenbaum ran things. Leaks give leverage to agents and other teams when they know a your targets and interest level. Leaks also come from disgruntled employees and usually paint the team in a negative light. The only people who know the Jets plans are those who work in Florham Park and that’s the way it should be.

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  • Roast Beef

    I completely agree with your assessment of the fans. A lot of people are certainly overreacting and thinking in a “now” attitude. But I think us Jets fans are also shaken up because of all of the missed opportunities that we have had in the past that could have lead us to more success. I am pulling for Idzik’s plan and I hope it succeeds. If anything, I am glad that the circus is out of New York and nobody is calling us that anymore. Everything is kept in house because really its their business. I think we are on the right track, and if we do reach a great deal of success with Idzik’s plan, we could become very selective in the future and people will come to us for contracts, not the other way around. Go Jets!!

    • Paul Newbold

      The “Win Now At Any Price” philosophy went out with MR T, thank goodness! Fans need to chill, be patient and see what Idzik can accomplish!! With a half decent free agency class, and a top draft, the Jets should be a playoff contender. Maybe even two years away from making a serious run at the big game!

  • Amar S.

    Pats fan here. Keep making moves Jets. Make the AFC East strong! Better competition in the division can only help the four teams in a championship run.

    • Craig Hoffman

      I am usually pretty good at it but I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic. The Patriots had to eskew their normal philosophy because they see the window closing for championships. Tom Brady can’t play forever and Bill Belichick can’t coach forever. Having a good division both helps and hurts. It helps you prepare for the playoffs but hurts your chances of getting to the playoffs with fewer easy wins. There’s always a need for Buffalo to be bad and Miami to be mismanaged.

      • Amar S.

        I’m being serious lol. Born and raised and NY, all of my football coaches to the pizza delivery guy are Jet fans, and I get a long with them better thab Giant fans. I see it this way, all the moves the Patriots have been making so far would be pointless if the four teams in the division aren’t strong. Look at Denver get smacked by Seattle, both NYJ and NE wouldn’t stand a chance against Seattle or SF if both of our teams didn’t make moves.

  • Paul Newbold

    Good article as always Craig. Damn right the media has been shut out! NY sportswriters are circus clowns for the most part! Idzik has made it crystal clear how he intends to handle FA, he’ll sign for value to meet needs. He’s said, that his draft approach is the best player available regardless of need. Jet fans shouldn’t be in the dark. Social media has been ugly, fans are impatient and have been screaming about the FAs he’s passed up! Jet fans have even called for him to be fired because he didn’t sign MEvis!! Patience is the name of the game while building a team…Idzik has a patience, and so far I think he’s done a great job!

    • Craig Hoffman

      Thank you Paul I appreciate it. The team will get built through the draft and from free agents that overstate their market, then have to take deals for pennies on the dollar. It isn’t a sexy or popular strategy but it works over the long haul. As long as they continue to improve the offense this will be an improved team over last year.