Make the Right Call  

 

Mike Maccagnan improves New York Jets with smart offseason

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Making the right call ... not an easy thing to do consistently in an NFL offseason.

Especially for a general manager like Mike Maccagnan, who had many to make in his first few months on the job with the New York Jets. And speaking of, did the team make the right decision when it replaced John Idzik for Maccagnan, the Houston Texans' former director of college scouting?

Maccagnan's predecessor, the much-panned Idzik, certainly didn't do a Grade A job in the fans', the media's and, quite likely, former head coach Rex Ryan's eyes. So Maccagnan didn't necessarily have much to live up to ... starting with the team's not-so-sterling 4-12 record from last season. However, inheriting a four-win team with a quarterback problem and an impatient fan base is no walk in the park. So how has Maccagnan fared thus far?

Elliot Harrison examines some of the busiest NFL teams this offseason and attempts to answer whether the moves they've made will pay off in the 2015 campaign.

We can't really judge the Maccagnan hiring until we've had the opportunity to evaluate the long-term results of his reign. But we can assess the moves he's made to date.

Over the next few weeks, we will examine some of the busiest teams this offseason and attempt to answer whether the moves they've made will pay off in the 2015 season.

With that said, what have the Jets done so far?

Front-office changes

The Jets didn't waste any time making major changes at the end of last season, parting ways with Rex Ryan after a six-year stint that included two AFC Championship Game appearances but an overall 46-50 regular-season record. Idzik, just two years into the gig, followed Ryan out the door, leaving a gaping hole in the team's hierarchy.

While Idzik was seen as more of a salary-cap guy, Maccagnan has the personnel chops to build a roster that's as talented on the field as it is on paper. One of Maccagnan's first acts as the Jets' GM was participating in Todd Bowles' second interview. The next day, the team officially hired the reigning AP Assistant Coach of the Year -- certainly not a bad way to kick off your GM tenure.

Bowles fits well with the Jets; he's a well-respected leader who proved with the Cardinals last season that he's one of the game's top defensive minds. The only problem I have with Bowles landing in New York is that he wasn't pursued harder by Atlanta. (In fairness, the Falcons did land a solid head man in Dan Quinn.)

Major re-signings, free-agent additions and trades

Re-signed

David Harris: The Jets paid him a chunk of change considering he's 31, but Harris is solid player who's spent his entire nine-year career with Gang Green. Nice to see guys like this stay with their team.

Signed

Darrelle Revis: The top corner in the league doesn't let anyone score on him (well, except for this old man in the playoffs), and his sequel in New York has already generated the same level of excitement as his first go-round. Revis made quite the name for himself during New York's deep playoff runs in '09 and '10.

Even though he'll be 30 by the start of the 2015 season, and has $39 million in guarantees -- quite the risk by Woody Johnson -- I like the call to bring Revis back.

He's the best player at his position in pro football, forcing teams to basically ignore whatever side of the field he's on. And he is one of the most notable players in Jets history, in the prime of a Hall of Fame career. Signing Joe Namath to a mammoth contract as a rookie was a risk, too. It paid off with the franchise's first and only Super Bowl title.

Antonio Cromartie: Come on, who doesn't like Cromartie's return to New York? A long corner to complement the best in the game. Plus, if "Hard Knocks" decides to feature the Jets again, we get to see Cromartie painfully try to remember all his kids' names again. Win-win.

Buster Skrine: He wasn't phenomenal last year, but I've seen Skrine play well before, especially in spot duty in 2012. Let's face it: He'll be the third corner in this packed secondary, primarily covering the slot. The guaranteed money (reportedly $13 million) was a bit high, though.

James Carpenter: Most people remember Carpenter as a draft-day reach, but the former Seahawk started 23 games for Pete Carroll over the last two regular seasons. He has a Super Bowl ring to his name, and while he might not have lived up to his first-round pedigree, it's worth noting that he didn't allow one sack in regular duty last year.

He's getting paid close to $5 million per season and has had his share of injury problems. That said, he's just 26 and still has upside.

Marcus Gilchrist: Maybe my least favorite of their acquisitions. New York was in need of a safety, but I'm not sure how much of an impact the fifth-year defensive back will make. He's more like a Brodney Pool-esque, stopgap guy. That said, it's not the worst thing to have a versatile veteran presence in the secondary.

Traded For

Brandon Marshall: Loved, loved, loved this acquisition. Marshall is a talented veteran who is still young enough to make plays on third down. He represents a big target for whoever's passing the ball for New York. And as far as the locker room stuff in Chicago ... maybe the Bears needed better leadership from the head coach and quarterback?

Ryan Fitzpatrick: Forgive me, but I really liked the trade for Fitzpatrick. New York only had to give up a late-round conditional pick. This move works on a lot of levels:

a) There is no guarantee Geno Smith takes a step forward this year.
b) There is no guarantee Marcus Mariota falls to No. 6 overall in the draft.
c) Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey is quite familiar with Fitzpatrick's strengths and weaknesses from their time together in Buffalo.
d) Few quarterbacks start 16 games anymore. Fitzpatrick is certainly a top-flight backup, if not a starter.
e) His 2014 season was far better than you would think -- 17 touchdown passes against just eight interceptions, with a 95.3 passer rating.

Have the Jets made the right calls?

By and large, this offseason has been an overwhelming success for Maccagnan and the Jets, if for no other reason than the fact that Woody Johnson has allowed him to bust open the green piggy bank.

Revis got paid a ton, but at this point, his contract is more trustworthy than the one we saw the division rival Dolphins give to Ndamukong Suh. We've seen Revis play up to his contract level multiple times. The Cromartie signing further solidifies Todd Bowles' secondary, affording him the freedom to blitz 20 guys on every play. Fitzpatrick provides veteran insurance with some much-needed efficiency. Skrine could play better by virtue of those around him. Harris is the leader of that defense. And then there's Marshall, who -- along with another former Bronco (Eric Decker) -- could make life a lot easier for such a young player in Smith.

While not ignoring that the team is still weak at quarterback, when you look at the AFC East overall, there's no reason to think New York isn't a heck of a lot closer to being competitive. The Bills have as big a QB problem as the Jets. You can make the argument the Dolphins are the most up-and-down team in the NFL. And New York's addition of Revis not only strengthened the Jets -- it also weakened the Patriots.

Thumbs up to Mike Maccagnan.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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