After failures in previous seasons, the 2019 offseason serves as general manager Mike Maccagnan’s final chance to save his job with the New York Jets.
The New York Jets have been biding their time with losing season after losing season. Patience has been a virtue for an organization that has had just one winning season in the past eight years.
But that time and patience have finally run out.
The year is 2019 and there can be no more talk of “next year.” There’s no more planning for the future because the future is now. No more excuses. No more justifications.
General manager Mike Maccagnan must show ownership that he is capable of turning around this franchise, something he has proven incapable of to this point. The Jets went 10-6 in his inaugural season as general manager, but the team has gone just 14-34 over the following three seasons.
They have failed to win more than five games in any season over that time span. In fact, only the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns have worse records over the past three seasons, and they both have cleaned house in the front office.
In reality, Maccagnan is fortunate to still have a job as we speak. The Jets went ahead and fired head coach Todd Bowles after three disastrous seasons in a row but Maccagnan was able to hold on despite a shaky-at-best track record.
His job will depend heavily on the play of his prized draft picks in 2019. Players like Sam Darnold, Darron Lee, and Brandon Shell must continue to take steps forward while Jamal Adams must remain at his All-Pro level of 2018.
But those players alone aren’t going to get the Jets to the postseason, in all likelihood. It is up to Maccagnan to assemble a roster this offseason that can and will compete for a playoff spot. That starts with free agency and ends with the 2019 NFL Draft.
In the past, Maccagnan has been hit or miss with both. Previous free agent/re-signing failures such as Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson, and what’s looking to be Trumaine Johnson don’t paint a great picture of his handling of the team’s finances.
Perhaps his best moves have come with trade bargains such as acquiring Henry Anderson for a seventh-round pick, swapping Calvin Pryor for Demario Davis, and of course trading Sheldon Richardson for Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick.
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But those aren’t franchise-altering moves. If anything, they’re nice complimentary, under-the-radar moves that can be difference makers if a pre-existing foundation is already in place.
Unfortunately, Maccagnan has failed to build that foundation thus far.
But that can all change come this offseason. Free agency is a huge part of that but teams are ultimately built through the NFL Draft. Maccagnan’s track record with drafting is sketchy given his supposed talent evaluation prowess. Still, the former Houston Texans Director of College Scouting has had his fair share of hits, most notably in the first rounds of the past two drafts.
The Jets have landed their franchise players on both sides of the ball in Adams and Darnold in the last two years and while the mid-rounds have been shakier, Maccagnan nailed the most important picks. You can argue that they both fell to him until the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is that he made those picks.
And he got them right.
Players like ArDarius Stewart, Lorenzo Mauldin, and Christian Hackenberg serve as relics of failure instead of players filling out the majority of the roster. The Jets depleted current roster is a constant reminder of previous draft blunders with veteran stop-gaps or journeyman players filling holes that should be occupied by mid-round hits.
But there is still hope to be had.
Maccagnan has been given one final opportunity to right his previous wrongs and finally turn a franchise around that has struggled to remain relevant for far too long. If he succeeds, all will be forgiven and he will be revered. If he fails, he will be looking for a job in less than a year’s time.
The road to redemption begins now with the 2019 offseason.