With the New York Jets, nothing should come as a surprise. But parting ways with aging veterans was absolutely the right decision.
Coming into the 2016 offseason, the New York Jets had a laundry list of question marks. It was headlined by what direction the franchise would go in after six straight years of missing the playoffs.
Sprinkled in there was the aberration of the 10-6 season that saw them control their own destiny in Week 17 in a game in Buffalo. Fans painfully remember what happened next.
With about a week until the official start of free agency, that plan doesn’t appear all that nebulous anymore. The Jets are in the process of undergoing a seismic makeover and it’s hard to argue this isn’t the right move.
They’ve already released fan favorites Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis, who both fell victim to the cap casualty phenomenon. With limited financial flexibility and a ton of holes to fill, these transactions were no-brainers as the Jets were tasked with thinking with their heads and not their hearts.
The emotional attachment was warranted. It was their hearts that told them these were integral pieces that would forever be a part of the franchise’s lore. But they were also aging players who under-performed and weren’t worth they money being given them.
Brandon Marshall, who made his claim to fame both with a historic inaugural season in New York and with his inexorable public campaign of advocating for Ryan Fitzpatrick to be re-signed, became the latest purge fatality.
Marshall set two franchise records with 109 catches and 1,502 receiving yards — the model of consistency Gang Green desperately needed. But he followed that up arguably the worst season of his career with just 59 receptions and three touchdowns. Injuries stymied the soon-to-be 33-year old.
I want to thank Mr. Woody Johnson, Todd Bowles, Mike Maccagnan and Brian Heimerdinger for bringing me in and embracing me. They are all truly incredible people. My teammates, such a great group of guys whom I will miss like #Crazy ? And to all the great people that make it easy for us players to do what we do best. Clay Thank You. Jackie Thank You. Montelle Thank You. Szott Thank You. Jarred, Eric, Bruce, Nick, Meghan, Jesse Thank You. Andrew, Vito, Jim, Gus Thank You. John, Dave, Ezron, Greg, thank you. D you know you can cook…. Thank You. Justus, Aaron, George, Kevan thanks MeatHeads ??♀️. Juan and Reynaldo I've never seen a facility so clean… Thank You. The New York media — Manish, Kimberly, Rich, Brian, and so many more on the Beat — they weren't nearly as scary as everyone told me they would be. I think you guys are people after all ?. I actually cherished the media– so much so that I have even become a part of it. I want to especially thank the incredibly loyal Jets fans, who were always there for us with their never-ending support. I'm sorry……I'm sorry we couldn't bring you a championship, but I wish you and my former organization the very best in your pursuit for one in the future. I'm looking forward to finding a great organization where I can contribute and bring home a championship. I know I have a lot left to give, and @michi_marshall and I will truly miss the Jets, but we are excited for what lies ahead. #MindOverMatter
After clearing about $46 million in cap, the Jets now have $33 million to spend. And they might not be done making moves, as Rich Cimini reports Marcus Gilchrist, Calvin Pryor, Eric Decker, Buster Skrine and Sheldon Richardson could be cut.
This illustrates just how the front office views this team. Not only are they not ready to compete now, but they’re so far away from contention that they’d be willing to part with inexpensive young players.
If you thought last year was rough, next season could be much worse. Part 1 of a rebuild is hitting the reset button. So far, the Jets have done just that with the shedding of bad contracts.
Part 2 is spending the money wisely. This aided GM Mike McCaggnan in his first year when he earned the Executive of the Year award. The same will be required of him beginning next week when free agency commences. And Part 3 comes at the draft. The Jets will presumably (if they don’t trade the pick) select sixth.
Just 14 months ago, the Jets were so close to breathing postseason air. They were one quarter away from advancing to the playoffs to play an injury-plagued Bengals team. Now, that’s a distant memory. And it’s anybody’s guess as to what happens next.