Mike Maccagnan had the type of offseason he should have had three years ago, lessons learned from the 2015 free agency spending bonanza. It has one league general manager impressed and thinking that the New York Jets have taken a step forward.
The Jets have been one of the winners of the first week of NFL free agency. Whether it is cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Avery Williamson to bolster the defense or additions on the other side of the ball such as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, running back Isaiah Crowell or center Spencer Long, there is no denying that the Jets added a lot this offseason.
- PHOTOS: Massachusetts residents make first retail marijuana purchases 12 Pictures
- Prepare for GoT season 8 with this Game of Thrones whisky 8 Pictures
They just didn’t spend big and they didn’t necessarily add stars.
Free agency for the Jets clearly lacked the big splash that many fans expected, especially after all the talk and buzz about going big after Kirk Cousins. The Jets didn’t pursue the top names in free agency, instead choosing to find value and not headlines with their signings.
It is the polar opposite of 2015 when the Jets went crazy, trading for the likes of Brandon Marshall and signing marquee free agents such as cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
One league general manager is impressed as he spoke exclusively with Metro on the condition of anonymity:
“I thought the Jets did a nice job. They definitely found good value but they added talent across the board. Two years ago was it – maybe it was three [years ago] – they spent all that money. It was almost spending for the sake of spending. Then they had success that one year with  wins but it quickly fell apart. This year, I think they got five or six impact starters and they already had a pretty good core. I didn’t like them letting their linebacker (Demario Davis) go, I thought he was a good player. I also don’t understand bringing in two quarterbacks when they’re going to draft one, but I guess they both have health concerns and came cheap so it isn’t a bad idea to play the odds because they’ll need a bridge for a year for whoever they sign.
They got better and they were smart about it. They have lots of flexibility now and a deeper roster. People are forgetting that they were 5-11 last year but they could have had a couple more. They were in a lot of games. If the kid [quarterback Josh] McCown doesn’t go down, they might get one or two more wins. They were close in a bunch of games so I don’t think they had to overspend. They let the market settle for a day then got value, they got depth and they got three or four guys on each side of the ball that help them immediately. That’s what they needed. With a high draft pick, I think the Jets got a lot better this offseason.”
“The kid McCown” turns 39-years old in July for what it’s worth.
But just how much better did the Jets get? Maybe not quite postseason material but this GM thinks that Maccagnan’s team isn’t far off.
“Listen, it is still a tough division. New England is not going anywhere. But I think the Jets maybe leaped above everyone else. They’re better than the [Buffalo] Bills and I think better than the [Miami] Dolphins. The Jets are deeper, more balanced now than both. The additions this year – they get them above those teams in the [AFC] East. They’re top half in the conference now and growing,” the general manager said.
“Do they make the playoffs? Not sure they are there yet. Do I think they can be .500? I really do. Maybe win 10 games and be in the hunt then take a leap forward next year. That’s not unrealistic at all. Keep in mind, they could be going into next offseason with $40 million or more in cap space. That’s the offseason where they maybe make that splash signing to get to the next level, maybe add that big-name wide receiver and a real star on defense. Just add one or two players to get them over the top. I think the Jets could be very good in a year if their owner is patient.”