By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //
The sky has fallen. The panic button has been pressed. Jets Nation is circling the wagons around One Jet Drive, demanding answers … immediately. The local sports media is in its element, building upon the hysteria, spreading fear among the Jets’ faithful, feeding their anxieties. At least Maccagnan and Bowles had a year to get settled in before the storm hit.
Welcome to the unofficial start of NFL free agency when your team has less than $7 million in salary cap space and the pieces of the puzzle they assembled are starting to scatter. Welcome to the world of the New York Jets.
Will the Jets be able to come to an agreement with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who is set to hit the open market? Will they find a trade partner for Muhammad Wilkerson in order to free up the $15.7 million he got with the franchise tag? Can they find a way to keep Damon Harrison? Will they be able to keep Chris Ivory or Bilal Powell? How are they going to do anything with the limited cap space they currently have?
Oh my God, teams can start talking to free agents today and the Jets have done nothing to free up any more cap space. Are they going to cut Jeremy Kerley, Breno Giacomini and Jeff Cumberland? And when? Will the Jets restructure D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold? Why haven’t they done anything yet?
It is time to take a deep breath Jets’ fans. Maybe take up yoga or some form of meditation, because the answers are not going to come as quick as we want them to. Without the massive amount of cap space they had in 2015, it is going to take some time and creativity to get things done this time around.
If you think Mike Maccagnan is just sitting on his hands and doing nothing as the world passes him by, you are sorely mistaken. There is no easy fix to be had in this situation. Maccagnan and the Jets’ front office are working tirelessly in order to make the calculated moves needed to get things right for the team in 2016 without destroying the future.
Unlike some past Jets’ regimes, Maccagnan has done a great job with plugging the organizational leaks and you can bet your bottom dollar that they are involved in talks with players and agents that we are all unaware of, including the team’s “insiders.”
You can almost guarantee that some players are being shopped before they sever ties with them. Word will come out soon enough as to who is going to be released or traded and who is being asked to restructure their contract.
Rest assured that Mike Maccgnan knows what he is doing. Last year he got the team Brandon Marshall from the Bears for a 5th round pick and Fitzpatrick from the Texans for a 6th, and both went on to have career years, setting multiple single-season franchise records at their positions.
Without the ability to throw Band-Aids on all of their open wounds, as they were able to in 2015, it is going to be a long, drawn-out process in 2016. As the team finds ways to free up room under the cap, they will bring back who they can and sign some low-cost free agents to fill the other holes.
The draft is going to be more important this year than it has been for the team in many years. That is going to be where we really see what we have in Maccagnan and his scouting department. If they can find a way to acquire some extra picks it would be extremely beneficial in their effort to set the Jets up for the present and the future.
It will not be until after free agency and the draft that we receive a clear picture as to where the Jets are headed in 2016 and beyond. If you want to panic in the meantime that is up to you, but it is not going to change anything. Just remember that the season does not start until September, so maybe we should give Maccagnan a little time to see how he is going to approach the roster before we all fly off the handle.