The first week of the new League Year is always fast and furious (unless your General Manager is named John Idzik) and this week was no different. The Jets had close to $50 million in cap room and spent about $38-$40 million of it (depending on how the contracts of Cromartie, Gilchrist and Purdum are structured). How did they do so far? Here is the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Jets upgrade the secondary – The Jets made a splash right off the bat signing Buster Skrine away from Mike Pettine and the Cleveland Browns. Skrine is a player who can play both inside and outside, can play press man coverage and is an ascending player who has improved each year. He is only 25 years old and will be an upgrade over Kyle Wilson in the slot with the ability to slide outside in case of injury.
Why would Skrine play in the slot when the Jets have such a poor secondary? That’s because the Jets were not done addressing the secondary. The team next brought home Darrelle Revis. The Jets 1st round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Revis played for New York until 2013 when he was traded to Tampa Bay for a 1st round pick that turned into Sheldon Richardson, a 4th round pick the following year that became Jalen Saunders and the cap flexibility of not having to pay Revis $16 mil/year. Fast forward to this week and the Jets used that $16 million to re-sign Revis making the already lopsided trade finalize as:
Revis might have declined slightly but he is still a top-3 corner in the game and is able to shut down the opposition by being physical and thinking two steps ahead of them. Both aspects will allow him to stay elite longer into his thirties than if he survived purely on athleticism. He signed a five year deal that has just less than $40 million guaranteed. Compare that contract to what the Dolphins payed Suh and you’ll see why the Jets are in good hands with Mike Maccagnan.
Da Windy City
There’s more too. The Jets reunited Revis with Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie was a Jet from 2010-2014 before Idzik let him walk to Arizona where Cromartie played a year under new Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles. Cromartie will be able to help the Jets install Coach Bowles’ defense as well as be another physical, press man cover corner. Both Cromartie and Revis will be put on an island in the Jets’ blitz heavy defense.
Cromartie’s contract has not been officially announced by the team yet so we do not know the structure or how much the guarantees are in his four year, $32 million dollar deal. I would expect this deal to end up being a two year, $14-$16 million dollar deal with the last two years being non-guaranteed or having a large roster bonus that the Jets will use as an out.
There’s still more. The Jets also signed Marcus Gilchrist, who played both safety and corner for the Chargers. Gilchrist will give the Jets a versatile, coverage safety that can play the slot, blitz, play the deep half of the field and allow Calvin Pryor to play close to the line of scrimmage and do what he does best which is knock out receivers running crossing routes, blitz and stop the run. Gilchrist’s deal has not been officially announced so I can’t speak to his contract particulars but he is only 26 and should be a long-term piece in Todd Bowles’ defense.
Next: More Good
Dec 4, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiverBrandon Marshall
(15) catches a pass during the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets improve the offense via trades – The Jets made two trades to bolster their offense. They traded for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The details of those two deals are listed below:
Marshall, 31, formerly of the Bears, Dolphins and Broncos, brings a number one receiver resume that will certainly complement and free up Eric Decker. Marshall has seven seasons of at least 80 catches, five seasons of over 100 catches and 31 touchdowns in his last three seasons with Chicago. He was injured but still played 13 games and had 721 yards and eight touchdowns.
The mercurial wide receiver is known as a head case but he formed a bond with Todd Bowles while the two were in Miami and the Jets definitely are aware of what they are getting into. Marshall came across as someone who has matured and was much more comfortable in his own skin than I expected. With a media career calling after his playing days are over, Marshall should be good for another 2-3 years here and should definitely be able to help the team.
The Jets landed Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete with incumbent quarterback Geno Smith for the starter’s job. Since Fitzpatrick had his greatest success under new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey while both were in Buffalo together, Fitzpatrick will definitely get a fair competition in training camp and should be able to hasten the learning process of a new offense. Fitzpatrick only makes $3.2 million/year and is signed through 2016 so the financials also make this a steal as he would get at least $4-5 million on the open market.
The Jets take care of some unsung players – The Jets re-signed Bilal Powell to a one year deal, and tendered both defensive tackle Damon Harrison and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett to both 2nd and original round tenders. In the case of Jarrett, since Harrison was given 2nd round tender and Jarrett was drafted in the 2nd round (by the Eagles) the Jets would receive a 3rd rounder for Jarrett instead of his actual original round because you can only have one 2nd round tender.
Powell is a good 3rd down back who can run, catch and pass block. Once it became apparent that Chris Johnson didn’t have it anymore, Powell should have gotten more playing time than he did. Damon Harrison is a good player that stops the run well but he is replaceable and putting a 2nd round tender on him protects the Jets against a team coming at him with a contract that pays him over $5 mil/year. Jarrett is a good backup and special teamer and $2.6 million isn’t a bad price for his value. No one, outside of possibly the Bills, is coming after Jarrett.
Next: Not As Good
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;New York Jets inside linebackerDavid Harris
(52) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterbackRyan Tannehill
(17) in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Not As Good
The Jets give David Harris a lot of money to keep him away from Buffalo or Miami – The Jets gave David Harris $15 million guaranteed in the 1st two years of his new contract to keep him away from Rex Ryan or Mike Tannenbaum. Harris has been a great Jet over the years and I like that his loyalty is being rewarded, but Harris is on the wrong side of 30 and is a liability when isolated in coverage.
It isn’t a bad move because Harris is still a force against the run and a better blitzer than he is given credit for, coupled with the fact that Todd Bowles keeps only two linebackers on the field 70% of the time. This Jets team is built to be in at least nickel defense at all times so Harris won’t be on the field as much in passing situations. The money is my real issue with this move. $7.5 million is a lot to give a 2-down linebacker.
The Jets kinda, sorta upgrade the offensive line – The Jets signed Seattle Seahawks guard James Carpenter to a contract that pays him just under $5 million per year. Carpenter is a former first round draft pick (2011), only 25 and according to this article by The Seahawks Blog “settled into becoming one of Seattle’s stronger linemen”. Carpenter has been injury-plagued since he entered the league with an ACL injury prematurely ending his 2012 season, some ankle issues, and was kicked inside to left guard from right tackle. Will Carpenter be an upgrade over Aboushi, Winters or Dozier? Most likely but he was the team’s 3rd choice behind Mike Iupati, who signed with Arizona, and Clint Boling, who re-signed with the Bengals.
The Jets also brought back Willie Colon on a 1 year deal. The deal is for the vet minimum of $980,000 with bonuses that take up to $2 million. Colon is a leader but he struggled both with penalties and injuries. It was a good idea to bring him back because he can play guard and tackle in case of injury and is still better than Aboushi or Winters but this isn’t a move to be excited about.
No Bad, No Ugly – That means it’s been a pretty good start for the team of Maccagnan and Bowles.