The best move new Jets general manager John Idzik has made this offseason has been to make no move at all.
Welcome to the new reality for Jets fan, who are learning to deal with the consequences of the last regime’s “buy now” philosophy which left the team strapped for salary-cap space and devoid of both depth and talent.
Under Idzik, who came to the Jets with a reputation as a cap guru with the Seahawks, the team has had to make tough choices. They’ve cut ties with several prominent players, including Wednesday’s release of fan favorite Sione Pouha. The only signing of note so far has been quarterback David Garrard, who hasn’t played football in two years.
In other words, there won’t be a press conference this year to unveil a backup quarterback before roughly 200 members of the media. There is a vision and a plan for the Jets, something that is much needed after years of purchases which looked pretty on the shelf but rarely worked on the field. It is a culture change that was long overdue and much needed.
What this quiet start to free agency means is that big names and big contracts likely won’t be a part of the team’s near future. Smart, shrewd moves should be expected, even if the star power associated with these decisions might be lacking.
But Jets fans not only should learn to accept this new norm, they should learn to embrace it. The pattern of spending sprees and veteran rentals that produced the consecutive AFC Championship game appearances in 2009 and 2010 are not the premise for sustainable success. The team’s fans and the organization itself must get over those two runs in the playoffs and realize there was plenty of lucky involved both times.
Now, the Jets are better off making their own luck.
The decision to release Pouha, a 34-year-old veteran with a bad back whose release frees up $3.8 million under the cap, was as tough a choice as Idzik will likely have to make, especially given the player’s affability and work ethic. Also difficult was the choice to cut linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, both of whom have contributed to the team’s success over the past several seasons. But shrewdly, Idzik is clearing cap space for the Jets, restructuring deals with wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
Idzik has laid low during the early days of free agency, letting teams with greater cap space spend on big names and choosing to let some of his own free agents walk. The Jets will be without safety LaRon Landry and likely tight end Dustin Keller as well. Most fans wanted to see both return, but the moves had to be made for long-term sustainability. The Jets were a team built to win now the last four seasons and have missed the playoffs the last two years.
The cupboard isn’t bare; it just needs some more talent. Even with a possible trade of Darrelle Revis, a player the Jets missed for three-fourths of last season, this can and should be a team better than 6-10. Idzik doesn’t need to panic, he just needs to stick to his shrewd and calculated game plan.
In laying low, Idzik is doing the right thing for a franchise that seemed to be in a doomed cycle of relying too heavily on rented guns. The result, up until last year, was a team lacking young depth. The new look of the Jets now has them eying competition over names and substance over sizzle. It means no major moves right now.
That’s the best move the Jets could have hoped to make so far this offseason.
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.