NFL free agency started out so well for the Jets. They released Antonio Cromartie, freeing up significant cap room. Then, they cut Santonio Holmes, giving general manager John Idzik even more flexibility to spend money. And they needed to spend, given all the holes or potential holes in their starting 22:
RG – Willie Colon (free agent)
TE – Kellen “Boston Market” Winslow obviously not returning
WR1 – Jeremy Kerley isn’t a 1. David Nelson isn’t a 1. Stephen Hill isn’t a 1 (and might be cut)
OLB – Are they bringing back Calvin Pace, who turns 34 in October?
CB1 – Vacated by Cromartie. Is Dee Milliner, who struggled for much of his rookie year, a #1?
CB2 – Kyle Wilson’s a nickle cornerback, at best
FS – Ed Reed turns 36 in September. Will Antonio Allen start again? (I actually like Allen a lot)
So naturally, as NFL free agency had the biggest day in the sport’s history – seriously, over $1 billion was spent by teams in a 24-hour window; yes, not all those contracts will be fulfilled, but still – the Jets did . . . absolutely nothing.
Didn’t sign a player.
Oh, and they lost one starter (right tackle Austin Howard, to the Raiders) and one backup defensive back/special teams player (Isaiah Trufant).
DeMarcus Ware would have been worth overpaying for. Can you imagine him chasing the QB along with Wilkerson and Richardson? That would have struck fear into Tom Brady.
Maybe they never had a chance – Ware probably wanted to play for a contender, something the Jets aren’t – but I could go on and on, position by position, and rattle off names like Vontae Davis, Donte Whitner and Darrelle Revis, but the fact is that the Jets have made two measly moves.
They inked Breno Giacomini. He’s an offensive tackle who was drafted in the 5th round by Green Bay in 2008, and the Seahawks plucked him off their practice squad in 2010. He started 40 games over the last three seasons.
Late Wednesday, they snagged Eric Decker, the Denver receiver who posted gargantuan numbers with Peyton Manning in an offensive juggernaut; they paid him 5-years, $36 million, and $15.5 million is guaranteed.
Optimist in me: John Idzik is being smart! He’s not overpaying bums like the Raiders and Jaguars do! We do not want to be on a list like this in a year or two!
Pessimist in me: Indecisive Idzik should have pulled the trigger on a bigger name somehow by now. The Jets have missed the playoffs two years in a row, have a roster completely devoid of talent, and have money to spend. You gave an ordinary receiver $15 million guaranteed, but Austin Howard got that much guaranteed from the Raiders. Why would you retain Rex Ryan and then not get him any players?
As if the news couldn’t get any worse, when the Bucs released Revis, the 3rd round pick the Jets thought they had now becomes a 4th round pick.
At the NFL Combine, I had three different agents tell me that Idzik “was in over his head.” I assumed they were ribbing me for liking the Jets, but they said his biggest flaw was that he was indecisive; later, someone used the word “glacial” when talking about the pace he moved when making roster decisions. It’s pretty clear they weren’t bullshitting.
Is this situation salvageable? Of course it is. Maybe the Jets get lucky and snag Hakeem Nicks before Carolina gets him, and he’s a model citizen for New York, and not Santonio Holmes. I would be more than content with Nicks-Decker-Kerley, and then drafting a receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round (Jordan Matthews? Cody Latimer?).
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is likely to hit the market, and he’s 28, and would look sharp alongside Milliner. If they want to grab cornerback Walter Thurmond as well, that would be nice; keeping Aaron Berry would be a cheaper option than both.
I’d do whatever I could to get Jermichael Finley, the former Green Bay tight end coming off an injury.
Why? I don’t think UNC’s Eric Ebron will be there for the Jets at 18 in the first round. And the receiver I like most in this draft, Mike Evans, will be gone in the Top 10. It’s looking more and more like the Jets should play it safe in the 1st round and take an offensive lineman . . . unless somehow UCLA pass-rushing menace Anthony Barr falls to them.