The offseason obviously isn't over yet. There are still some free agents left. Trades will come, and the Draft is still ahead of us. There will be other chances to improve the team, but we are deep enough to get a preliminary idea of where the Jets are. There might be another acquisition here or there, but the team we will see take the field Week 1 is largely the team you see now with Draft picks coming.
When grading the offseason to this point, I think back to the start of free agency. Heading into it, the two spots on the team I probably felt needed the most improvement were quarterback and the group of pass catchers. The Jets added the best available in both spots, Michael Vick and Eric Decker. With this in mind, I can't go below a C grade.
However, given the lack of any other quality signing makes it tough for me to go higher than C. I'm a big believer in filling holes in free agency and finding impact in the Draft. The Jets still have a tremendous number of holes. Wide receiver remains one of them. Decker was a superb signing, but I think the Jets were so thin at the position that they needed more.
There were a couple of different ways the team could have gone. The Jets have a lack of elite, game-changing talent on the roster. This is one of the big reasons they have so much cap room. Look at the Drafts between 2008 and 2010. To put it bluntly, they were not good ones for the team. Kyle Wilson is the only player still on the roster from those three classes, and he did not turn into the top level talent they were hoping he would become. Had the players from those classes become stars, this is around the time they would have been due big raises. Because the Jets got so little, that cap space is unused, but it leaves the team without that top tier talent. There were players like Jairus Byrd, Darrelle Revis, and DeSean Jackson available who could have filled the void, but the team showed little interest.
That isn't necessarily the end of the world. There was another approach. As we know, the Jets had a number of holes to fill. They could have used the space to land a number of moderately priced free agents and trade targets and filled their holes. When you don't have holes, you can go with the best player available in the Draft without a problem. You can also avoid the temptation to reach.
There have been a number of moderately priced players who could have helped. An incomplete list would include Alterraun Verner, Darren Sproles, Toby Gerhart, James Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Clemons, and Brandon Pettigrew. There were others. Are these top level talents? Aside from maybe Sproles, probably not, but they would have been tangible improvements over the status quo. The Jets didn't need to sign all of them, but a few of them would have made the team better. For whatever reason, the plan was not to wait for the market to settle and grab some good pieces at a discounted rate.
You don't need to be splashy. Players at that level would have helped and not carried the risk of the big money guys. If you have a mortgage to pay and kids to put through college, you don't want to buy a ridiculously expensive car that you can't afford. At the same time, you don't want to drive Steve Urkel's car when you have the money to pay for something reliable.
One of the big criticisms I sense from people is that the offseason has not been sexy enough. I can understand that. Signing some more of the top names wouldn't have been bad. My view is different, though. I think the Jets made some fairly big high profile moves in Decker and Vick. I don't think they've done enough of the under the radar grunt work to uncover quality pieces at discounted rates. There's still time to correct it, but I am a little disappointed at how much remains at this point in the offseason. We will see whether John Idzik and company can fix what ails this team. For the time being, the Jets get a C from me.