There is much to be proud of if you’re John Idzik. A year into his job as New York Jets general manager and the offseason picture has made a 180-degree turn. Gang green went from being a projected last-place team in the NFL to a team dealing from a place of power we couldn’t have even imagined when he got hired.
Idzik made a splash during a hectic beginning to his tenure by trading All-Pro Darrelle Revis for a first round pick that turned out to be Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson. He also drafted Dee Milliner, and drafted Geno Smith. Salary cap constraints didn’t allow many upgrades in the personnel department but the Jets surprised anyway, finishing a respectable 8-8 despite a lack of talent on the offensive end. It’s safe to say Idzik did what he could with what he had, but now he just has so much more to work with.
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For the first time in nearly four years, the Jets look to have some stability within their organization. In 2014 at least, New York is dealing from a position of strength with salary cap space and an abundance of draft picks. The resources Idzik has to work with this offseason is intensifying the pressure on him to advance the talent level of this team so the Jets can be a contender. Any failure to assemble the necessary talent when the season comes will undoubtedly be Idzik’s fault.
The head coaching questions answered themselves as the Jets gave Rex Ryan an extension. Keeping Rex was something Idzik, who grew fonder of the coach as the season went on, was on board with. The move silenced the inquiries about Ryan’s job status and put the focus on running the football team.
Looking ahead to May 8th at Radio City Music Hall, there’s reason to be excited. As long as the Bucs keep Revis on their roster (which they will), the Jets will turn the conditional fourth rounder into the No. 69 pick. That gives them two picks in the third round and four selections in the first 80 overall. There are more from where that came from in the later rounds and we could even see some impactful moves on draft day. The Jets have leverage in this year’s draft and a ton of extra money to go with it.
Currently, the Jets hold about $23.5 million of salary cap room. Once the inevitable cuts are made that number will balloon. Although there is rumors of a pay cut negotiation, we expect embattled QB Mark Sanchez will be gone along with wide out Santonio Holmes. There is also the likelihood that Antonio Cromartie is also cut, which would stretch the total savings to around $48.5 million. It would be no surprise to see Cromartie re-signed at a lower number, but still leaves gang green with enough space to make noise in free agency. Even if they deviate from this plan, the Jets will have a ton of room in the increased (by 5%) salary cap.
Whether it’s drafting a potential contributor, trading picks on draft day or signing free agents (wide receivers, please) John Idzik has the freedom needed in order to positively impact this team for years to come. We didn’t get to see Idzik pick his own coach and there is still some curiosity when it comes to how this team will operate long-term under his tutelage.
Well Jet nation, we’re about to find out. What we see from John Idzik this offseason will shape where the Jets go in the forseeable future.