New York Jets Free Agency Week 1: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tackleBreno 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.
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.
1) Vontae Davis and other free agent misses in the cornerback market – The Jets, supposedly, had a deal in place with Vontae Davis to replace Antonio Cromartie in the secondary that Davis backed out of when the Colts upped their offer. This has left the Jets without a “number 1” corner. They have missed out on a number of replacements because the cornerback market has rebounded in a big way this year salary-wise. They have missed out on Davis, Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner, Darrelle Revis, Captain Munnerlyn, Walter Thurmond, and Brandon Browner for various reasons. Some were because of money (Talib, Davis), some about fit in the scheme (Verner), some were slot guys that might not have worked outside (Munnerlyn, Thurmond), one is one suspension from being out of the league for a year or more (Browner) and the other one is Revis. The two remaining free agent possibilities are cousins. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie visited the Jets Friday night and Saturday before departing to the Giants and Antonio Cromartie has negotiated with Arizona but a deal is not close. Rich Cimini reports that Antonio Cromartie wants to come back but John Idzik is hesitant to give a multi-year deal to a player 30 years old, coming off of a leg injury, and a bad year. If the Jets miss out on the two cousins then they will have to either find a trade partner for a veteran corner or go back to the draft to replace Cromartie. Neither option would be a disaster but finding a veteran free agent answer is preferable.
2) That safety and guard market went fast – Within the first day of free agency all of the top free agent safeties, sans Chris Clemons, with most garnering big contracts. Jairus Byrd got over $50 million dollars from the Saints with $28 million in guarantees, TJ Ward went to the Broncos, Donte Whitner signed with Cleveland for around $7 million/year, Antoine Bethea, Mike Mitchell and Malcolm Jenkins all got long-term deals on Day 1 of free agency. Chris Clemons is a good coverage safety that would upgrade a deficiency of the Jets secondary but there is always the draft as well. At guard it was assumed that the Jets would replace Willie Colon with Kansas City’s Jon Asamoah but Asamoah then signed with Atlanta instead for $4.5 million/year. The remaining guards would go quickly with Geoff Schwartz going to the Giants, Zane Beadles to Jacksonville and Chad Rinehart to San Diego. Thankfully the Jets have a fallback option that wants to be a Jet in Willie Colon and expect a one year deal to get done when he recovers from his torn biceps.
3) That media blackout also keeps fans in the dark – The fact that the Jets don’t have leaks anymore means that the fans don’t have any information either and have to rely on speculation or pure guess-work by the media. If the Jets lose out on the player there is no information out there to say well at least we still have interest in this guy. Hearing no news makes the impatient think that no one is working which leads to angst. The media feeds into the angst as they send tweets designed to troll Jets fans into more negative thinking. It is a bad cycle but unfortunately a necessary one to make sure that everyone inside the building is on the same page, and that the only people who know the Jets business are the Jets.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1) Social media overreaction – Through the 1st week of free agency the main story to me has not been what the Jets have or have not done, but instead the rush to judgment of fans and media alike. We were told by everyone that John Idzik is careful, has a plan, is methodical, and is looking to build a long-term consistent winner mostly through the draft, but as we sit here less than six days into the free agent period there are fans already calling for Idzik’s head. I know everyone wants to win a Super Bowl right now because it’s been 45 years already but let’s let the man breathe and do his job over the entirety of the offseason before we make judgments. The overwhelming amount of information on Twitter that comes in so quickly 24/7 days a week is what’s causing the angst. I put my phone down for nearly an entire day on Sunday and I felt relaxed, not thinking about the Jets in the least bit, but as soon as I picked it back up and was waiting impatiently for good or bad news the anxiety returned. Breathe everybody, the season doesn’t start for six months.