In what many consider to be a rebuilding/transitional season for the New York Jets, a lot has been made clear in terms of what it will take to reach success. The team’s aspirations are climbing to new heights, and the fans are all on board.
That being said, to reach such a peak, the Jets must work from the top down. While much of the attainable success will fall into the hands of the players, it is up to management and coaching to get them there.
Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan is the center of it all. With potential seeping through the cracks of 2017, it will be his job to push the team along and turn the franchise around. Areas in need of improvement are blinding to the eye, and Maccagnan will be the one responsible for making sure they are fixed.
But his ability to do just that is questionable. Some believe he has what it takes, while others are skeptical due to some of his past stumbles.
This week the FPC Jets crew discuss the future of Mac, and how they think he’ll progress as Jets GM. Make sure to give our featured contributors a follow!
Kyle Hirshkind Follow @kylehirshkind
Brad Keith Follow @jetsfan2124
Cooper Weissbard Follow @catchingtapick6
James Cunningham Follow @nyjfansnation
Adam Melendez Follow @melendez2015
Sean Walsh Follow @WalshNYJets
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Q: Should Jets GM Mike Maccagnan still be employed after this season? Why or why not?
Kyle: I believe Mac will stay. He deserves to, at least for the time being. While he hasn’t made the most brilliant moves in terms of the draft, free agency and re-signings, he has begun to flip the switch this season. Adams and Maye proved to be ingenious picks along with acquisitions in ASJ and Kearse. This being said, 2018 will surely be telling. The team needs some help in some obvious places. Mac should know what he has to do or else he could be kissing his Jets tenure goodbye.
Adam: I think that Maccagnan was dealt an unfair hand with the Jets. Stuck in limbo between an aging group of veterans and a young team with loads of potential, Maccagnan has made some excellent picks, made great deals, and finally pulled the trigger on a long overdue rebuild. Give him a few more years as GM and we’ll go from there.
Brad: Mike Maccagnan has being doing an admirable job since joining the Jets in January of 2015. Personally, I’m interested in seeing how he will shape the franchise this off season.
Cooper: I don’t think Mike Maccagnan should be the general manager next season. He’s done a good job at drafting and trading for players in the offseason, like drafting Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, trading for Brandon Marshall, Jermaine Kearse, and trading Calvin Pryor for Demario Davis. But he’s had a lot of busts like Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson and most of his free agent signings. He also wasted the $88 million in cap space in his two years. I’m done with Mac as the general manager, it’s time to move on.
James: Maccagnan should definitely be employed after this season. The fact that this is questioned by some is ridiculous to me. He has made some blunders in search for a franchise QB, but he has made so many great moves. Signing ASJ, signing Anderson, drafting Adams and Maye, the Jermaine Kearse trade and other signings as well. When you look at everything other than QB, he’s done very well. It’s also never a good thing for a young team to switch management early in the development process.
Q: In your opinion, what has been Mac’s best move as GM?
Kyle: Hard to say since we haven’t seen it fully play out yet, but I am a personal fan of the Sheldon Richardson trade. At first, I questioned it, but now seeing how well Kearse fits into the system, along with adding a second round pick, I have to give Mac props. It also puts a faint grin on my face seeing Richardson remain average at best in Seattle. To me, it was a smart move and step in the right direction for this franchise. As said, the other half of the equation will fall on what Mac decides to do with that second round pick.
Adam: While drafting Leonard Williams was a great snag for us, grabbing the safety duo of Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams was a great move. The secondary struggled heavily in 2016, and adding two young players — along with a strong source of morale in Adams, was a great move. The Jets may have locked down the middle of the field for years to come.
Brad: Maccagnan has made a lot of positive trades in recent years but I believe his future will be tied to Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams.
James: Maccagnan’s best move was signing Robby Anderson. He is an absolute beast and the X-factor to this offense. At this point in his career, it is crazy to think he was undrafted two years ago. Mac was one of few to be willing to take a chance on the “skinny, poor route runner.” Now he’s a top deep threat in the league.
Cooper: In my opinion, the drafting of New Jack City, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, has been Maccagnan’s best move. They’ve shown leadership and the potential to be a force in the league. The past season, the Jets secondary was a mess, but since Jamal and Marcus were drafted they’ve help make the defense hold on against top teams. Marcus Maye has 72 total tackles and two interceptions this season and Jamal has 66 total tackles with two sacks. The two have the potential to be the best safety duo in the league with the kind of plays they make.
Q: And his worst move?
Kyle: Not franchise-tagging Muhammad Wilkerson. Like, come on. As talented as he once was, his troubles have put the Jets rebuild on pause. Placing the franchise tag on him would have allowed the Jets a lot more flexibility this upcoming offseason. Now, they’re likely to take a hit if/when they release him, seeing as how he carries one of the heftiest contracts in the NFL.
Adam: Christian Hackenberg in the second round. Sure, considering the situation at the time, it made sense. Draft a QB, put pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, and re-sign him to the team. But Hackenberg would have been available in later rounds. Being a Penn State student, I was ecstatic with having the then leading touchdown passer in school history join my favorite team. However, drafting him to not play him makes his high draft spot an honest waste, especially when you consider the fact that players like Jordan Howard, Pharoh Cooper, and Tyreek Hill weren’t drafted until later on.
Brad: My crystal balls says all our writers will agree with this one. Signing Mo Wilkerson and letting Damon Harrison walk. Huge mistakes I’m sure he regrets.
James: His worst move was drafting Christian Hackenberg. Using a second round pick to draft a QB just a year or two after drafting Petty seemed dull-minded to start, and now it looks even dumber. He’ll likely never play a snap, at least not for the Jets.
Cooper: Maccagnan’s worst move was signing Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year $86 million contract. When he signed he was expected to be the leader and the focal point of this defense but the total opposite happened. Wilkerson has become very lazy. He usually shows up late to the Jets morning meetings which led to him being inactive Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints. Wilkerson is also lazy on the field. He gives up on plays when he doesn’t feel like doing it and the stats prove it: he has a total of 46 tackles and only 3.5 sacks. He just isn’t making his presence felt. Wilkerson has also become very injury prone this season with injuries to his shoulder, toe, and foot. When the offseason starts the Jets should cut their losses with Wilkerson and let him go.
Q: The Jets are slated to have almost $90 million in cap space this offseason. Do you trust Mac with that amount of money? What would be your spending advice?
Kyle: We may not have a choice, we HAVE to trust him. The needs of this team are quite obvious, and if Mac doesn’t recognize them then what in the world does he still have a job for? Go get a quarterback. Not someone who will act as another bridge, but a franchise guy. Tear down and rebuild the offensive line. Re-sign key players in ASJ, Claiborne, Davis, Ealy. Then wave whatever extra cash that’s floating around in the face of talented free agents. The Jets could be a tempting option for many players simply due to the big contracts they could sign. Mac just needs to be smart.
Adam: I do trust him. This team is no longer recovering from the Rex Ryan era, and it’s all Maccagnan and Bowles. The Jets are young and on the rise. With the 2018 free agency pool stacked with players, I would hope that Maccagnan would sign some big names. If the chance arises, the biggest target would be Kirk Cousins. That could save the Jets a draft pick. If that is not available, they should try to invest in the offensive line, which has struggled often this season.
Brad: Jets fans are all looking forward to the $90 million off season cap space. I believe Mike Maccagnan will handle this well and address obvious weaknesses to the current roster. Look for additions on the offensive line, corner backs and possibly an edge rusher to be high priorities.
James: I trust Mac with our spending money. He has had good signings in the past, including McCown, ASJ, Beachum, and Claiborne. All of these were low to mid range salary guys, and now they have money so it’ll be great to see who he targets. My advice would be to invest in the offensive line and a premier cornerback. Maybe Kirk Cousins or Teddy Bridgewater if they don’t plan on drafting a quarterback.
Cooper: I really don’t think Mike Maccagnan should be the general manager anymore and I definitely do not trust him with $90 million in cap space. All of Maccagnan’s big signings have been busts. When Revis signed a five year $70 million contract in 2015, he wasn’t bad for the first year. But in 2016 Revis was terrible and ended up getting cut in the offseason. The other Maccagnan big signing was Muhammad Wilkerson. Which he signed a five year $86 million contract. He’s also been a bust and will likely get cut in the offseason. When Maccagnan first started with the Jets in 2015, he’s had a total $88 million in cap space (2015 and 2016 combined) and a lot of the players he signed aren’t on the team now or are not playing well. My advice to him is don’t spend most of the money on one player, spread the money out. I just don’t trust him with being the Jets general manager during their rebuild.
Q: A lot of speculation in the media reiterates that if Mac does not draft/sign a quarterback this offseason, he will fail as the Jets GM. What are your thoughts on this?
Kyle: It’s an unfortunate state, but I have to agree. The Jets have been quarterback deprived for way too long. Now is the time. No more playing it safe. Team’s don’t win Super Bowls with bridge quarterbacks. Get that franchise guy or get out. It’s a simple formula.
Adam: As much as I would want the Jets to avoid drafting a quarterback, only because of the bust potential, the position needs to be addressed. Bryce Petty has shown little signs of development. We haven’t even seen Hackenberg take the field. Unless he turns out to be the next Tom Brady, Maccagnan is going to need to ink a quarterback to save the team.
Brad: If the 2018 season starts with no major acquisition of a quarterback, Maccagnan’s future with the club will be a short one.
James: I can agree to this. In past years, we really didn’t miss on much when it comes to QB. The only guy we missed out on was Deshaun Watson, but nobody expected him to be as good as he is. This year we are in a prime spot to finally get a quarterback we can rely on for years. If he finds a way out of fixing this disaster once again, it’s safe to say he isn’t doing his job right.
Cooper: If Mac doesn’t draft a quarterback, his term with the Jets is a failure. I’ve had enough of them signing veterans through free agency, like Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is one of the problems of the Maccagnan era, signing temporary options instead of getting permanent options. This year will be a quarterback heavy draft class, the Jets should fully draft one and if they don’t it’s a shame. If Maccagnan doesn’t draft a quarterback, he’ll only have Robby Anderson, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye and Leonard William to leave his mark with the Jets if he gets fired. Mac has drafted only three good players since 2015. Simply, that’s unacceptable. If he doesn’t draft a quarterback, the owner of the Jets, Christopher Johnson, should look for someone else to manage the team.
Q: How would you grade Maccagnan to this point?
Kyle: If C is today’s average, than that’s what I give Mac: a C. Let’s face it, he’s done OK. Not great, stellar or outstanding. But also not dreadful, outrageous or pitiful. He tries to put this team in the best position despite stumbling a bit. But in my opinion, he’s working very hard to clean it all up. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and I’d see this current team as his rough draft. Mark him down for a C.
Adam: Despite the negative remarks, Maccagnan deserves some high praise. He has drafted some key defensive pieces in Adams, Williams, and Maye. Cutting the older players in the off season made him look borderline insane, the play of those released have made him appear as though he’s a genius. He has played it conservative, and that can be a bit controversial depending on who you ask, but the signings of players like Morris Claiborne, Robby Anderson, and Kony Ealy have proven to be huge difference makers. Maccagnan has earned himself a few more years to put his plan in motion.
Brad: My Grade for Maccagnan would be a B.
James: To grade Mac as the Jets GM to this point, I’d give him a B+. People will question this, but he really has done well. He has built a good roster for a new QB to step into and play well from the get-go. You look at his good moves and his bad, and the good outweighs heavily. If he gets us our franchise QB this offseason, watch out. He may be remembered as one of the great Jets’ managers.
Cooper: I would grade Maccagnan’s tenure so far with the Jets a D+. I can’t get the fact out of my head that he only drafted three good players out of 21 rounds in the draft. Most of his signings have been busts like Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Gilchrist, and more. Mac wasted $88 million in cap space in total, and most of the players aren’t on the team anymore or haven’t played well. He’s only had temporary quarterbacks, and in turn hasn’t found the answer to the quarterback delima. He just shouldn’t be the general manager, with how many mistakes he’s made in three seasons.
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