Big salary cap cuts have defined the New York Jets so far this offseason but in the end, it’s a sign of a fresh start for a better future.
It’s time for a fresh start. Following a rough, disappointing 5-11 season last year, the New York Jets have started the process of letting the older veterans go out into the sunset while creating room for the young, up-and-coming players on the roster.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s one year contract expired and it seems highly unlikely that the Jets will re-sign him. Cornerback Darrelle Revis turned himself into the Pittsburgh Police last week following his crimes and this seems to be the end of the illustrious career of Revis Island, at least in New York.
Earlier this week, the Jets released long-time kicker Nick Folk, along with offensive lineman Breno Giacomini, creating $24M extra in cap space for free agents and the future. And finally, probably the hardest pill for all Jets’ fans to swallow was the release of Pro Bowl center, Nick Mangold, who was a Jet for his entire 11-year career. Although the moves may seem tough for those who watched these players grow, the NFL is full of young players and the key to success is youth and speed.
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In sports, history has shown one of the easiest ways to rebuild and get back into playoff contention is to dump the oldest of veterans and try to remove as many of the max contracts as possible to create space. In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers are doing just that, with nine current players below 25 years old and a bright future ahead to mature.
In hockey, the Columbus Blue Jackets have the youngest team, which has helped them stay in the playoff picture and guided them during their incredible 16 game winning streak. And in baseball, the New York Yankees are going down that same path, after seeing Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and A-Rod all retire in the last five years, paving the way for younger talent to begin their careers.
It’s not an easy process, but it is a necessity for any team to get started on the winning track and become a contender again. Jets’ general manager, Mike Maccagnan, acknowledged the level of difficulty the process holds, especially when he has to release someone who means a lot to the organization, like Mangold. Here is what he said in an article written by Rich Cimini of ESPN:
“Decisions of this magnitude are always difficult, but even more so with someone like Nick who has meant so much to this organization,” Maccagnan said in a statement, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. “We appreciate not just his on-field contributions, but the imprint that his mentality and approach to the game leaves on this team.”
The 2017 NFL Combine is here and the Jets will be sure to pounce on the players with the highest upsides. Although no Super Bowl resulted from the selections, the Jets’ management, despite what any critics have said, sure do know how to draft. Aside from the cornerback Dee Milliner selection at No. 9 in 2013, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg last year in the second round, when he didn’t dress up at all until Week 17, the picks have just about all paid their dividends and given the Jets a dominant team, at least defensively.
They have selected defensive end Sheldon Richardson at No. 13 overall, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson at No. 30 overall, linebacker Darron Lee at No. 20 last year and Pro Bowl defensive end Leonard Williams at No. 6 overall; to say the Jets’ draft picks have been top notch would be an understatement. It will be very interesting to see what the Jets do now with the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s draft as the combine should absolutely give a glimpse at what route the team may take.
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Heading into the upcoming season, it would be very bias and unrealistic for fans to expect a surreal Super Bowl contending team following dramatic changes in players and staff but this team sure does have a bright future and are potentially a star away from making a run. Although the process may seem grueling, the up-and-coming talent will be heading to the Big Apple in no time.