New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan made some big moves in free agency this offseason, but now comes the hard part. How the 2019 NFL Draft plays out will go a long way in deciding if Maccagnan keeps his job in 2020 or not.
As another eventful NFL free agency period winds down, focus now shifts to the 2019 NFL Draft.
The New York Jets signed some key free agents in running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley that should help the Jets become a much-improved team in 2019. However, no team wins a championship through free agency alone. Great teams get to the playoffs and contend for Super Bowls each season because they know how to draft and develop young players into Pro Bowl talents.
For Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, that has been his biggest flaw since his hire in 2015.
Maccagnan has never had a problem spending money to improve the roster, especially this offseason. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, the Jets gave out over $122 million in guaranteed money at contract signing. While Maccagnan and the Jets have had no problem dishing out money to free agents, they have failed to draft good players.
Now let me clarify, drafting Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, and Sam Darnold are great picks by Maccagnan but it really wasn’t that hard of a decision. These players fell to the Jets after most analysts thought the Jets would have no chance to draft them. It is very easy to draft players like that when they fall to you.
Maccagnan has whiffed big time in the middle rounds though, drafting players like linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin in the 2015 third round, quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the 2016 second round, and wide receivers ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen in the third and fourth rounds in 2017. These are just a few of the many picks of the middle rounds Maccagnan has whiffed on.
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Maccagnan’s poor drafting has led to another disturbing fact for the Jets. Since Maccagnan’s hire in 2015, only two of his picks have made the Pro Bowl. Williams in 2016 and Adams in 2018. That is a bad sign when you are trying to develop young talent on your roster.
Recently, there has been talk that 2016 first-round pick Darron Lee could be on the trading block come draft night this year. Mosley was paid big money to come in and be the signal caller of the defense while Lee might be getting phased out of the defense. Lee had arguably his best year as a pro in 2018 before his season ended suddenly after violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The suspension isn’t Maccagnan’s fault in any way obviously but Lee has the looks of another draft pick bust. Lee has underwhelmed for the most part since he was drafted in 2016.
The NFL Owners’ Meetings were recently held in Phoenix, Arizona and several media members caught up with New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson. According to this tweet from Brian Costello of the New York Post, Johnson wouldn’t ever issue a playoff mandate but he does expect the Jets to be much better in 2019.
Christopher Johnson: "I’m never going to make the playoff mandate, but I do expect us to be better. I think we are a better team. Everybody on this team, every player, the coaches, Adam, Mike, me, we have to prove ourselves."
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 25, 2019
The Jets should be a better team in 2019 like Johnson states, but everyone needs to go out there and prove it. For Maccagnan, the best way he can prove he still belongs as general manager is to go out and win the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Jets have three big holes left to fill at edge rusher, center, and cornerback. If Maccagnan can fill those needs with three studs, he will most likely keep his job.
If he fails to navigate the middle rounds again, Maccagnan will be out the door at the end of 2019.