Mike Maccagnan has done an excellent job in free agency

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) /

As the biggest names of the 2019 NFL Free Agency market find their new teams, let’s give credit where it’s due. New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has done an excellent job so far this offseason.

The most exciting part of free agency is winding down, and the New York Jets couldn’t be more thrilled. They’ve landed superstar talent, filled positions of need, and didn’t have to overspend heavily to do so.

Let’s give the man credit. Despite criticism towards his previous offseasons, general manager Mike Maccagnan nailed this free agency, and it’s not even over yet.

Unquestionably his biggest move was bringing in former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell provides a spark to the Jets running game that they haven’t had in nearly a decade.

It took plenty of coffee cups for Maccagnan to get it done. Bell was patient through his process, waiting over 36 hours to sign his deal. He was hoping for teams to grow impatient and up their offers, but Maccagnan didn’t budge.

Other than slightly boosting his offer when Anthony Barr backed out of his deal with the Jets, Maccagnan stayed firm throughout the negotiation process. He even gave Bell a deadline to agree to a contract. He was firm, bold and confident the whole way through.

His strategy paid off as Bell’s contract rounds out to approximately $13.5 million per year, which is well under what Bell was looking for. The deal is for four years, but the Jets can cut ties after two years with minimal damage. This contract was extremely well constructed and was a huge win for Gang Green.

Maccagnan’s work went beyond signing Bell. He also agreed to deals with star linebacker C.J. Mosley and slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Both of these signings were huge upgrades at their respective positions.

Mosley was arguably the best defensive player on the market. He’s made the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons and led the Ravens to an AFC North title in 2018. His interception in Week 17 sealed the division for Baltimore.

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Mosley’s contract is a five-year deal worth $85 million, making him the highest paid linebacker in the league. Some will say that the Jets overpaid, but what did they have to lose? They have the cap, their quarterback locked up long term, and a desperate need for star talent. This is how NFL teams should function when they have a QB under a rookie contract.

Gregg Williams’ defense will benefit greatly from Mosley’s presence. He and Avery Williamson will be a force to be reckoned with on the inside of the Jets linebacking core. He’s also an excellent leader on the field and in the locker room.

This is money well spent.

Along with this signing comes the ability to shop Darron Lee who has been a disappointment after being selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Lee is probably only worth a mid-round pick alone, but if they choose to do so, he can be a great piece to add into a draft-day deal.

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Perhaps they can package him and the No. 3 overall pick to move down in the draft with a quarterback-needy team, like the New York Giants (who happen to have a hole at the ILB position, as well).

The third major signing that Maccagnan made was their first move, signing slot receiver Jamison Crowder to a three year, $28.5 million deal. This averages out to $9.5 million per year which isn’t a bad number at all.

Crowder was one of the top slot receivers on the market joined by Adam Humphries and Golden Tate. Tate is on the wrong side of 30 so it’s understandable why the Jets didn’t show much interest. Between Crowder and Humphries, it’s basically a toss up. Crowder makes more plays, and Humphries has been more reliable.

The Jets went with Crowder and it may turn out to be a very smart move. Humphries was in a pass-happy, always trailing offense that had little run game. His numbers certainly benefited from being a top-five passing team in football in terms of attempts.

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Crowder is only 27-years-old and still has plenty to show for. His 2018 was riddled with injuries and lackluster quarterback play, but his 2016 and 2017 numbers show what type of talent he has. He posted more than 800 yards and seven TDs in 2017, which is superb for a slot receiver.

The Jets saw the upside in Crowder, and went for it. His playmaking ability in the slot is well beyond that of Humphries and he can turn out to be an excellent value for the Jets at a small price.

Maccagnan also re-signed some of his own, bringing back several key players, including Henry Anderson, Darryl Roberts, Jonotthan Harrison, Neville Hewitt, and Steve McLendon. The most notable returnee is Anderson, who agreed to a three-year, $25 million deal to return to the team. The Jets acquired Anderson for a seventh-round pick and he wound up tying for the team-lead in sacks with seven. He’ll likely maintain his role as a starter in the new scheme and will look to improve from his breakout season.

The Jets also brought back Roberts who started several games for the Jets last year in the absence of Trumaine Johnson. Roberts played very well and earned himself a solid payday from Maccagnan. His contract is three years for $18 million which is a solid number for Roberts. If the Jets don’t bring in any big name cornerbacks over the next few months, Roberts will likely have a starting role on the outside.

So, to recap, Maccagnan was able to bring in multiple new faces who bring superstar talent to the table at reasonable prices while retaining multiple key pieces at the same time. It was an incredible offseason that could ultimately put the Jets in playoff contention.

The Jets made a huge mistake not signing Matt Paradis. Next

If Mike Maccagnan didn’t have the respect of the fanbase, he certainly should now.