Jets fire GM Mike Maccagnan; Adam Gase is acting GM

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The New York Jets are shaking things up in the front office.

New York announced Wednesday that it has fired general manager Mike Maccagnan and installed first-year coach Adam Gase as acting general manager.

It is unlikely that Gase will remain the general manager for long. Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly and Lions director of player personnel Lance Newmark are potential replacements for Maccagnan given their ties to Gase. The first-year Jets coach will be heavily involved in hiring the next GM, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Maccagnan had two years left on his contract with the team.

The abrupt decision to fire Maccagnan comes just four months after the general manager participated in the hiring of Gase.

Maccagnan and Gase quickly appeared to get off on the wrong foot. During and after the draft, reports emerged of a rift between the two over decisions made in free agency. Both Maccagnan and Gase categorically denied those claims, as recently as last Friday. But it turns out where there was smoke, there was a firing. 

The Jets general manager of four-plus seasons, Maccagnan was tied at the hip with coach Todd Bowles, whom he helped hire in 2015. Together, Maccagnan and Bowles piloted the Jets to a mediocre 24-40 record over four years. Over the last three seasons of their time in New York, the Jets were the only team not to win at least six games in one campaign. 

Maccagnan will be remembered as much for his missteps in free agency and the draft as his ability to select top-10 stars like Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold and potentially Quinnen Williams.

The GM oversaw the dismantling of the "Sons of Anarchy" defensive line, signing defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson to a massive contract only to cut him two years later, trading away Sheldon Richardson and letting Damon Harrison walk in free agency.

Maccagnan will also be recalled, not so fondly, for the selection of Christian Hackenberg in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft when the Penn State quarterback was pegged by some draft analysts as undraftable. Seen as a potential replacement for veteran placeholders Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown, Hackenberg never even saw the field in the regular season, even when New York's seasons were lost in 2016 and 2017. He was shipped to Oakland for a conditional seventh-rounder (a.k.a. nothing) in 2018.

The departed general manager's lasting positive legacy, however, will be his ability to secure Darnold, who projects to be a franchise-altering signal-caller, with the third pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Jets had failed to tank the year prior and entered with the offseason with the sixth pick. But Maccagnan swung a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, sending New York's No. 6 selection and three second-rounders in 2018 and 2019 for Indy's No. 3 pick.

If Darnold turns out to be the messiah that the Jets hope he will be, and Maccagnan's other early selections in Adams and Quinnen Williams and high-priced free-agent signings (Le'Veon Bell, Trumaine Johnson) pan out to be annual Pro Bowlers, then perhaps the ex-general manager's tenure in Florham Park will be looked at in a rosier light and the losing seasons he oversaw as a necessary means to an ends. His legacy is unwritten.

What is certain is that Maccagnan will not reap the fruits of his labor in New York. His firing signals the true end of an era in Jets history. The next one will feature Darnold, Gase and a GM-to-be-named-later.

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