Just when things were looking up for the New York Jets, management provides another reminder that they are one of the most dysfunctional organizations in sports.
After allowing the team to hire a new head coach, spend a boatload of cash in free agency, and control their draft room last month, the Jets fired general manager Mike Maccagnan last week after a reported rift with new head coach Adam Gase.
Gase — who has resembled a brooding, moody teenager throughout his first four months at the position — is now the acting general manager while he and CEO Christopher Johnson find a new GM.
A word of warning for both Christopher and owner Woody Johnson: Don’t put all your eggs in the Gase basket.
Regardless of the organization’s denial that fundamental differences between Maccagnan and Gase led to last week’s firing, it’s clear to see that it played a part.
You don’t need to be an insider for that.
Amongst their disagreements, Gase did not want the Jets to go out and sign star running back Le’Veon Bell — or any rusher for that matter— to a big contract.
Maccagnan and ownership ignored him, inking the former Steeler to a four-year, $52.5 million deal in March.
But the final nail in Maccagnan’s proverbial coffin came through the draft. The New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta reported that Gase distanced himself from Maccagnan, who muted the head coach’s voice when it came to scouting prospects.
The reason? Maccagnan didn’t want Gase’s observations to mar the views of Jets scouts who had been working for over a year to compile the best possible draft strategy.
So on draft night, Gase sat off-camera away from Maccagnan, which was all Christopher Johnson needed to show Maccagnan the door.
A petty move, yes. One a Jets source told Mehta was “extreme.”
But at the end of the day, Gase got exactly what he wanted, which indicates that he isn’t going to stop at much to inject his culture into Gang Green.
Gase will now have a clear path to choose a general manager that fits his ideologies and systems. It will be imperative though that Johnson doesn’t sign off on hiring a “yes man” to allow Gase to have free reign.
There have already been inklings of Gase trying to eliminate some of Maccagnan’s hard work this offseason. That includes the recent rumors that the Jets could trade Bell before he even suits up for the organization.
Because the Jets already paid Bell $12 million in signing and roster bonuses, a possible trade suitor would be getting Bell for an even larger discount.
Four years at $40.5 million is quite a bargain for a three-time Pro Bowler who is one of the best dual threats in the NFL.
Getting rid of Bell would provide Gase with his wish of getting the 27-year-old off the Jets’ books. But it would also come with the Jets being the butt of jokes once again around the NFL.
Picking up a superstar rusher that will provide franchise quarterback Sam Darnold with a first, real offensive weapon is invaluable for his development and his confidence. The USC product will enter his second year knowing that he doesn’t have to carry the Jets’ offense by himself.
However, because of what can be considered an elongated temper tantrum from Gase, the Jets might blow an opportunity to have their most talented offensive weapon in years.