The New York Jets are indeed rebuilding as general manager Mike Maccagnan is building the foundation now for a bright future. Let’s take a look at what these big plans are to play successful football.
Throughout this offseason, many fans have been asking “What is Mike Maccagnan’s plan to fix the New York Jets?” Fans are understandably upset with last year’s effort and maybe even more so with the lack of activity in the top tier free agency market this offseason. Fans are angry, they are writing off the season before it begins, and more then a few have opted out of season tickets this year.
There has been a bunch of speculation as to whether or not Maccagnan is the man to lead this team into the future. Some have already begun to call for his job if he can’t turn this team around in 2017. Fans want to know what the plan is to fix the team, as many are befuddled by the moves during the offseason. The team isn’t going to draw out an exact plan for fans, but we have clues to how they would like to go about it.
Maccagnan has been repeatedly quoted as saying that he wants to build through the draft. He has said on numerous occasions that he would supplement the talent taken in the draft with free agents when the need arises. Drafting young talented players and allowing them to develop into team players may seem foreign to some Jets fans. For years the team has spent big on veteran free agents only to be disappointed by their production. Maccagnan avoided that this season and fans are beginning to wonder what the plan to fix the Jets is.
Taking from the small tidbits Maccagnan has provided us and his actions during the offseason, I believe we can uncover a plan. Whether it’s the exact plan the Jets are going to use will always be debatable, but hear me out for a moment.
This much we already know. The team cut several veterans to clear up salary cap space. Then went into free agency and passed on the top tier targets and spent frugally. The Jets signed wide receiver Quinton Patton, defensive lineman Mike Pennel, cornerback Morris Claiborne, kicker Chandler Catanzaro, offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum and quarterback Josh McCown during free agency.
All received one-year deals from the team’s front office, with the exception of Beechum who signed a three-year deal. The other common denominator among these players is they are all young, having an average age of 26 years old. Of course, that’s excluding the 37-year-old McCown.
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If these players don’t prove their worth in 2017, the team can simply walk away with no financial obligations. I believe the hope is that the Jets developing talent can replace them in 2018. Should the Jets get lucky and find production from these latest signings, they will still have the opportunity to re-sign them. Either way, the team risked little.
Next up is the 2017 NFL Draft. Maccagnan has said that all his picks this year are open to trade. It would appear he’s hoping to add additional picks in a very talented draft class. The Jets currently have a full compliment of draft picks, but do not have a fourth-round pick, as they traded it away last year to select Brandon Shell.
Defensive end Sheldon Richardson is also rumored to be available for trade during the draft, possibly adding an additional pick if they can find a partner. With a trade or two, and the departure of Richardson, the Jets could easily go from seven picks to ten. Already owning a first, second and two third round picks, Maccagnan could add even more talent with additional picks.
The 2017 schedule is not in the Jets favor this upcoming season. Whether the front office wants to say it or not, the team is rebuilding, and it’s likely the team struggles to post anything close to a winning season. Now, this isn’t “tanking” a season as some have suggested, it is just the situation. The Jets are a young football team with developing players that are facing a fairly tough schedule. There will be struggles.
The plan for next season slowly begins to come into view. Maccagnan is banking on his last two drafts to develop and take the next step. He’ll also add more young talent from this year’s draft and allow them to develop alongside their predecessors. With the likelihood of a poor season in 2017, the team may be in place for a high selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The other piece of the puzzle is cap space for next season. With another raise in the cap ceiling being predicted for 2018, the Jets could find themselves in good shape going into next year’s off season. Steve Silberberg of The Jet Press wrote an excellent article in which he predicts a mountain of cap space to be available for the team to spend in 2018.
If all goes according to the plan as I see it, the team could become competitive in 2018. It will require development from the last two drafts, and additional talent producing from this year’s top picks. Development is key in 2017. Put that development together with a high draft position in next year’s draft, and the team should be closer to being competitive. Maccagnan can spend on top tier free agents next season to supplement his roster as needed, setting the Jets up in good shape going into 2018.
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The end result should be a young talented roster for the future, playing alongside some high-end free agents in 2018. Is this the Jets plan? We can only speculate. It could work, however, providing Jets fans something to look forward to. It may be painful in 2017, but the good news for Jets fans is the long-suffering might actually becoming to an end. Maccagnan has his work cut out for him to make it happen, but I believe he just might pull it off. Here’s hoping.