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Jets Free Agency Grade


The Jets are a worse team than they were a week ago.

The Jets have made good moves in free agency.

Those statements seem contradictory, but I believe both of them. The Jets have taken a big hit. They have lost LaRon Landry, Mike Devtio, Sione Pouha, Dustin Keller, and Yeremiah Bell. Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson seem likely to follow them out the door. These are big losses.

While these were big losses, letting these guys go was the right move long term in many of these cases. It would have helped the 2013 Jets if Landry and Devito were around, but them taking up as much of the cap as they will with their new teams would have hurt the Jets long term. Pouha was a good player, but he cost too much at the price his contract took up considering the uncertain condition of his back.

I would have liked to have seen the Jets make more of an effort to keep Bell and Keller at the contracts they ended up with. I would like to see more than the minimal effort to keep Moore we have seen, but I like the general philosophy of not overpaying for your own guys. Even if it helps short term, there will be long term pain.

I also like the general philosophy the team has taken to signing free agents. The Jets aren't trying to live a Burt Reynolds lifestyle on a Mac Davis income. We haven't seen crazy overpaying. The Jets are looking for more modest deals. If they had wanted to, they could have created more short term cap space to chase the big names making big money, but that would come with long term pain. They are looking for lower priced guys.

When you look for a low price free agent, you can do one of two things. You can find somebody who isn't any good, or you can look for players with big ability who might end up being bargains. There is usually a red flag with these players as there are with Antonio Garay and Willie Colon (injury history) as well as Antwan Barnes and Mike Goodson (been behind on the depth chart). All of these players have been productive in the past, however, when given an opportunity to play. All have the potential to be big time bargains. It has also been encouraging to see other targets such as Victor Butler, who has also been productive when on the field but is behind a lot of talent in Dallas or Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has a ton of speed and seemed to be putting it all together under the current Jets wide receivers coach. These are all low priced players, but you can see the upside.

Even David Garrard makes sense to me. He was the one quarterback available who has a long history of competent player who could be found at a cheap price. Even that doesn't mean the Jets are done given their reported interest in Kevin Kolb.

More than individual moves, I wanted to see a coherent philosophy to build the team for the long haul. So far, the philosophy seems to be look for productive players at low prices to fill holes, putting a specific price on players, and not going beyond that.

John Idzik's tenure will not be defined by this offseason. It will be defined by whether he can lead a front office that finds difference makers consistently in the Draft, where the real talent at bargain prices is. That goes double for the quarterback position. At this early date, however, his plan to find role players appears sound, even if it means 2013 isn't looking pretty.