NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets didn’t exactly have the most successful free-agent haul in 2020. Rather than target some of the top names on the market, general manager Joe Douglas decided to be conservative with his approach in his first offseason with the team.
The results were less than spectacular.
Douglas understandably wanted to right the wrongs of the previous regime. Former GM Mike Maccagnan failed during his tenure with the Jets for many reasons, and one of them was his sheer recklessness in free agency.
Maccagnan’s egregious contracts given to the likes of C.J. Mosley, Le’Veon Bell, Henry Anderson, and others set the organization’s cap situation back and essentially forced Douglas to play it safe.
This offseason should be different, however.
With likely over $80 million in cap space once roster cuts take place, the Jets are expected to be much more aggressive this time around. But the effects of their lackluster haul a year ago — whether designed or not — are still being felt.
The Jets played it cheap and opted against paying Robby Anderson a very reasonable two-year, $20 million contract. Anderson went on to have a career year in which he topped 1,000 yards for the first time.
Douglas will hopefully learn from his mistakes an offseason ago and put forth a more productive free-agent plan this time around.
But before this year’s free agency commences, let’s take a look at the team’s three worst signings from last offseason.
Next: 3. Connor McGovern
3. Connor McGovern, C, NY Jets
- 3 years, $27 million
While the Jets played it safe with a number of low-cost signings, perhaps their top free-agent prize was center Connor McGovern.
McGovern was fresh off a year in which he was ranked as a top-10 center in the NFL by Pro Football Focus and was seen as one of the best offensive linemen on the open market.
The signing was seen as a home-run addition and many expected McGovern to be the team’s best offensive lineman in 2020. Unfortunately, his play regressed significantly from his breakout 2019 campaign.
McGovern earned a poor 62.2 PFF grade that ranked him 23rd out of all qualified centers. He was especially disappointing in pass-protection as after ranking top-five at his position in 2019, his 42.7 grade was “good” for second-worst of all qualified centers in football.
Now, it should be noted that McGovern did improve as the year went on. He actually finished with the 12th-highest run-block grade at his position and seemed to develop better chemistry with his fellow linemen as the season progressed.
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However, he was tagged for six sacks allowed which led all centers and his PFF pass-block grade was quite literally not starting-caliber (35th out of 36 qualifiers). It’s safe to say that McGovern underperformed in 2020.
That said, the Jets are locked into his contract for at least another year meaning that he will enter the 2021 season as a starter. And there are reasons to believe he will find more success in Mike LaFleur’s system that relies primarily on zone blocking.
McGovern’s best days may be ahead of him, but 2020 was definitely a step back.
Next: 2. Breshad Perriman
NY JetsMandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
2. Breshad Perriman, WR, NY Jets
- 1 year, $6.5 million
The Breshad Perriman experiment always seemed destined to fail from the start. An injury-prone wide receiver with only a handful of games of production in the league’s most pass-happy offense was never going to find that same success with the Jets.
And what makes this signing even worse is what the Jets passed on.
Rather than sign the aforementioned Robby Anderson to an extremely affordable two-year, $20 million deal, the Jets went cheap and hoped that Perriman could adequately replicate his production.
Anderson hauled in 95 catches for 1,096 yards en route to a career year with his new team, the Carolina Panthers. And it’s not as if Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers had the most high-powered passing attack in the league.
Perriman, on the other hand, struggled through a predictably injury-riddled campaign in which he recorded just 30 catches for 505 yards. In more than half of the games he played, Perriman failed to reach even 30 yards.
Needless to say, the Jets aren’t looking to bring him back for another year and they’ll be looking for another player who can stretch the field in the offseason.
The Perriman signing never made much sense, especially given the dirt-cheap deal that Anderson received. And given how both of their careers trended in opposite directions in 2020, the decision now seems even more egregious.
Joe Douglas has done a lot of things right in his brief tenure with the Jets. But this right here is probably his biggest blunder so far.
Next: 1. Pierre Desir
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
1. Pierre Desir, CB, NY Jets
- 1 year, $5.5 million
The Jets went into the offseason eyeing an upgrade at the cornerback position. The Trumaine Johnson singing was a complete disaster and while they saw the likes of Blessuan Austin and Arthur Maulet step up late in the season, it was clear a change was needed.
But rather than target players like James Bradberry or Byron Jones, the Jets decided to play it cheap again and turned to the recently-released Pierre Desir to be their “big” signing at the position.
Desir was two years removed from a breakout campaign with the Indianapolis Colts that earned him a three-year extension in the offseason. But after a disappointing 2019 season, the Colts opted to move on just one year into said extension.
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The Jets decided to take a chance on the former fourth-round pick in hopes that he could return to form in 2020. He did not. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
In fact, Desir quickly emerged as arguably the biggest liability on a poor Jets defense putting together the worst year of his career. The 30-year-old was given an abysmal 47.8 PFF grade that ranked 105th out of only 120 qualified cornerbacks before being released after just nine games.
At the time of his release, no player in the NFL had surrendered more touchdowns and he had allowed the 12th most receptions out of anyone in the league. Simply put, Desir was downright unplayable.
While it was always foolish to expect him to perform like a true No. 1 cornerback — the role he was being asked to play — no one could have predicted the straight-up disaster that was his 2020 season.
When your projected top cornerback barely makes it halfway through the season before being released, something went terribly wrong.
This is likely a signing that Douglas wishes he never made.