Slow start to free agency has Jets fans doubting Mike Maccagnan

Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan talks with New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan talks with New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets have been particularly slow when it comes to the free agency period. Fans are now doubting general manager Mike Maccagnan so far in his tenure with the franchise.

Fans of the New York Jets have endured a lot of heartache in the past 12 months. They saw the team post a 5-11 record in 2016 with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty under center. This offseason, fans saw a huge purge of veteran talent with the departure of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold and Ryan Clady to name a few. The poor season, subsequent purge and a slow start to free agency have fans doubting general manager Mike Maccagnan’s plan to build the team.

Maccagnan has repeatedly stated that his plan for the Jets is to build through the NFL Draft. Since arriving in New York, Maccagnan has drafted 13 players and has a full compliment of draft picks in 2017. His efforts in 2015  brought the upside talent of defensive end Leonard Williams, outside linebacker Lorenzo Maudlin, Petty and nose tackle Deon Simon. The downside of his first draft brought Devin Smith who has yet to do much due to injuries and fifth round pick Jarvis Harrison who was cut by the team during camp of the same year. The jury remains out on Petty.

Maccagnan’s 2016 NFL Draft also had it’s winners and losers to this point. On the upside, the Jets got inside linebacker Darron Lee, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, cornerback Juston Burris, offensive tackle Brandon Shell, and wide receiver Charone Peake. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg came to the Jets as well but has yet to play his first NFL snap.

Beyond the draft is where Jet fans are beginning to doubt the plan. Maccagnan has his detractors in the draft, but his biggest criticisms are coming from his free agency signings and trades. Two years ago the team went on a free agency spending spree, acquiring veterans that have turned into a mixed bag of talent. Revis, Buster Skrine, Marshall, Clady and James Carpenter were the big names brought in with some hefty price tags.

This season, in the early stages of free agency the Jets have been fairly quiet. The team started out by signing their own free agents.  They have re-signed offensive tackle Ben Ijalana, outside linebackers Josh Martin and Corey Lemonier while also bringing back long snapper Tanner Purdum. Since then they have signed left tackle Kelvin Beachum and added kicker Chandler Catanzaro.

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There are more signings to come as the second tier players begin to draw more attention from NFL teams. It is early in the game, but it is obvious fans are not happy with the activity level from the team.

The resulting displeasure has many calling for head coach Todd Bowles and Maccagnan to be fired at season’s end. This is far too early for these demands and in my view, they are total overreactions to the situation. Remember, Maccagnan has repeatedly stated that his desire is to build the team from the bottom up, using the draft as it’s primary source of talent while supplementing talent via free agency. To build a team in this manner takes time, it is not an overnight affair.

There are fans declaring that the franchise is out to “tank” the 2017 season to better their draft selections in 2018 as well. This is complete bunk, no NFL team has ever gone out on the field and told their players not to give 100 percent towards a victory. Players and coaches have too much pride to even consider such a proposition.

The Jets are rebuilding. The front office began their efforts two years ago, they have added a youth movement through the draft and added a promising talent from the undrafted pool as well. While their efforts to stay competitive during the rebuild has failed, it’s hard to ignore the potential in what they are building.

Jet fans have high expectations for the team every year. Every fan has his favorite player they would like to see added to the roster, I get that. I understand the frustrations fans have endured over the years, but this is not the time to give up on a season that has yet to even start.

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Let’s allow Maccagnan to do his job and wait to see what sort of results he can produce before we call for his job. Let’s settle down and see what kind of free agency the team finishes with. Let’s look forward to the possibilities this year’s draft holds for the franchise. Let’s be patient and see how the Jets fare in 2017. It’s not yet a “lost season” as many would have you believe.