Breaking down every free agency signing of the Jets
By Paul Newbold
With the free agency frenzy pretty much over with, here’s a breakdown of every signing made so far for the New York Jets.
The NFL Free Agency period is all but wrapped up for this year. Many fans that I’ve spoken to in the past several weeks aren’t very enthusiastic about the results. They decry the lack of top-tier signings and bemoan the “mediocre” signings. There is also a small contingent of Jets fans that see the seven free agent signings as being key to the season ahead. The latter group is for the most part being drowned out by the former. That leaves us with the query of the day: Was general manager Mike Maccagnan’s 2017 free agency a success or a failure? Let’s take a look.
On March 10th the Jets announced two free agency signings. The first came in the form of place kicker Chandler Catanzaro. The Jets released long time place kicker Nick Folk earlier in the offseason, making a replacement neccessary. Catanzaro comes to the Jets from the Arizona Cardinals. He is a dependable kicker who has a career high 60-yard field goal on his resume. He easily replaces Folk at a savings and has a one year “prove it deal” with the team.
On the same day, Maccagnan announced his second signing of free agency in the form of left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Again, Beachum arrives on the team’s roster to fill a need. The team signed Ryan Clady last season after the retirement of long time Jet D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The position became a weakness for the Jets, as Clady struggled with injury and back up Ben Ijalana is better suited for the right side. Beechum comes to the Jets from the Jacksonville Jaguars and signed a three year deal with the Jets.
Eight days later the Jets front office announced they had signed former Dallas Cowboy cornerback Morris Claiborne to a one year contract. Claiborne again fills a need for the team. The Jets secondary was dismal in 2016, and almost any signing was an upgrade for the team. Claiborne is young, turning 27 last month. He comes to the Jets with injury concerns, but when healthy, he has demonstrated he can be a shutdown corner. The Jets will give him the 2017 season to prove he can stay healthy.
Likely the most controversial signing of the offseason came on March 20th, when the Jets announced the signing of quarterback Josh McCown. In a recent poll on the official Twitter account of The Jet Press, fans were split over the signing, with many not in favor of the signing. McCown is a 37-year-old, and entering his thirteenth season in the NFL. McCown has played for eight different organizations in primarily a backup role. He comes to the team from the Cleveland Browns and signed a single year contract with the Jets. His role for the team will likely depend on the performance of the Jets younger arms this summer.
Just two days later, on March 22nd, fans were treated to the news that Maccagnan had signed free agent defensive lineman Mike Pennel. Pennel comes to the team with some off field issues from the Green Bay Packers. The Jets took a small risk on him after he was suspended twice by the NFL for violations of the league’s substance abuse policies. The Jets provided him with a one year “prove it deal.” The talent is apparent with Pennel and he would be a significant upgrade as depth along the defensive front if he can behave himself. The need was there for the team, and Maccagnan filled it, even with albeit a bit of a risk.
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The following day, the Jets announced they had signed wide receiver Quinton Patton, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers. Patton is a 6’0″/204 pound receiver who has connection to new offensive coordinator John Morton. Morton served as Patton’s wide receiving coach in San Francisco.
This was also a need based signing. While the team roster boasts of some good young wide receivers, they are for the most part inexperienced. With the release of Brandon Marshall, and some apparent doubts surrounding Eric Decker, Patton brings some NFL experience. He’s a young receiver with an upside, the Jets gave him a one year deal to show off his talents.
Finally, the Jets announced they had signed another offensive lineman. On March 29th,the team signed Jonotthan Harrison, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. Harrison comes to the Jets after the team released long time center and fan favorite Nick Mangold this year. Harrison will certainly have his chance to compete with Wesley Johnson for the starting center spot this summer. Beyond that he also offers versatility to a Jets offensive line that could use it. Harrison has played stints at six different positions in his young career. Harrison even received a crack at playing tight end while with the Colts.
Are these the players that fans were clamoring for before the start of free agency? Of course not. Are they top tier free agents, deserving of long term, big money contracts? Of course not. They are however mid level talents, that could contribute in big ways for the team in the midst of a rebuild. They are young, experienced and the contracts work in the teams favor.
I guess the answer to Maccagnan’s success or failure in free agency this year, comes down to how one views the period itself. If you are a fan of high profile players who could have long term impacts for the team, then his activities this offseason will appear a disastrous failure. If you’re a fan that looks at the period as a way to address needs while adding talent to the current season, then you’ll see it as a successful offseason.
In the end, the final call on Maccagnan’s free agent signings will be shown on the football field. OTA’s and summer camp will be telling as to how well the front office performed. The regular season even more so. As fans we’ll have to watch and learn exactly how free agency went for the Jets.