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A look at the three-year rebuilding plan to turn Jets into contenders again

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were both introduced for the first time. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles were both introduced for the first time. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
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Since 2016, the New York Jets are doing everything in their power to reshape the roster and put a contender on the turf. Let’s analyze how they are trying to achieve that feat.

The New York Jets cannot seem to get over the hump and clinch the playoffs since 2010. This period is already their second-longest playoff drought in history. We need to go all the way back to 1981 to find a longer streak. That season the Jets made the playoffs after an 11-year breakdown. Even though history might be concerning, the optimism surrounding the Jets is noticeable.

The Jets ended their 2016 season with an old and overpaid roster. Hopes of playoff contention the following year came crumbling down as the group showed a tremendous lack of talent. Players like Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall seemed to be on their last legs while the imminent future appeared unfavorable for the green and white.

The front office realizing what they had in hands, launched the franchise into full-on rebuild mode. General manager Mike Maccagnan got rid of big names and big salaries with such force that many predicted a 0-16 record for the Jets in 2017. The goal was to get younger and cheaper but at the same time remaining competitive in the football field. As training camp is about to begin only seven of the 22 starters survived the restructure of the roster.

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In 2018, the Jets are younger and have a healthier cap situation than two years ago.

The top 10 salaries for the Jets changed drastically as explained in an article written by Rich Cimini of ESPN:

“The current top 10 has a radically different look because there’s only one holdover (Buster Skrine) and only one player is north of 30 — Josh McCown, who turns 39 on July 4. The average age of the top 10 is 28.7, down from 30.5 in 2016. The current combined cap charges account for 40 percent of the salary cap, down from 54 percent.”

The reshaping of the roster brought a 5-11 record in 2017. Not good but far from disappointing. The year showed an impressive new leader in Jamal Adams, a great hitter in Darron Lee and an emerging Pro Bowler in Robby Anderson. Also, we can not forget about Marcus Maye, Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Shell, and Leonard Williams. All of them stouts on the football field and under 26 years-old.

Everything was on the right path but prior to the draft, something was still missing: the face of the franchise. After trying to sell the house to acquire Kirk Cousins, the situation seemed worrying when the quarterback signed with the Minnesota Vikings. That changed at the 2018 NFL draft when the Jets selected USC quarterback, Sam Darnold.

If Darnold is indeed a future franchise quarterback, in 2019 the club should try to upgrade the offense to give him the right supporting cast. The Jets have a projected $90 million in salary cap space next year. That is probably the last offseason before fans expect a winning record.

As for this season, Vegas has the over-under at six wins. There is no reason for them not to exceed that projection. With that said, the most important thing is to see how the young players improve. Jets CEO and Chairman Christopher Johnson set his goal at the end of last season as written by Ethan Greenberg of NewYorkJets.com:

“To be like one of those great franchises that seem to go from year to year to year and they are there for a decade. We want to be in that conversation.”

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The Jets three-year plan should be enough to put a contender on the turf. The first two years look like a success but there are still many deficiencies on the roster. Hopefully, another good draft and a couple of quality free agents and the Jets are ready to soar.

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