Darryl Slater has a good insider’s perspective as to how the Jets settled on the amount of money they offered guard Brian Winters, who has signed a lucrative new contract.
The Jets examined this year's top pending free agent guards -- Larry Warford (Lions), Ronald Leary (Cowboys), and Kevin Zeitler (Bengals) -- and determined those players could set a high price point for this year's offensive guard market.
League sources had told NJ Advance Media that Sweezy's deal would be a guidepost for Winters' negotiations with the Jets. Winters wound up getting comparable money to Allen (four years, $28 million, $12 million guaranteed) and Sweezy (five years, $32.5 million, $14.5 million guaranteed).
A team should ask plenty of questions before committing to a deal like this. One of those is how much teams will pay for a guard of Winters’ caliber. The Jets clearly did that here.
There are more questions, though. Another that comes to mind is whether it is a good idea to pay that amount of money even if another team is willing to do so.
This is an area that frequently trips general managers up. Like Mike Maccagnan, most general managers in the NFL have a background in scouting. They can tell you whether a player is talented or not.
There is so much more than just evaluating a player when it comes to being a successful general manager, though. It is one thing to be able to tell whether a player is worth having. The great general managers also understand how to value players. A certain player might be good, but he is only worth a certain price. The job is about properly valuing players and coming up with a strategy to best utilize limited resources to build a cohesive team. This is where so many general managers fail, and it is where I think one must question Maccagnan here.
We are still waiting the full contract breakdown, but we can say with some certainty this is a lucrative deal.
Brian Winters contract: 4 yrs, $29M, including $15M, per @DanGrazianoESPN. It's the 10th-largest guarantee for a guard, per ESPN data. #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) January 17, 2017
Not only is that a lot of money for a guard, it is an incredible amount for a right guard. Those figures give Winters the fifth highest annual salary at his position in the entire league.
The right guards who are true difference makers are few and far between. We might be able to argue about how many guards are true difference makers, but there is little debate that Winters is not such a player. He essentially has three quarters of a quality season under his belt and is recovering from a major injury.
Coming off a disappointing season where a number of high profile free agent signings hit their expiration date, it would seem like caution would be the order of the day for the Jets this offseason. Would it not make sense to focus on cost-effective signings? Instead, we have the team paying a nonstar like a star.
We have talked a lot about traits of successful team, but what I find disturbing in this move is how many traits of unsuccessful franchises I can see, notably overpaying a replaceable part because you don’t trust yourself to find and develop a quality replacement.
In following this team, I frequently find a degree of logic within most transactions. Even if I don’t agree with a move, I can at least understand why the team made it. Take the Christian Hackenberg selection. As much as I don’t like Hackenberg as a prospect, I can at least ascribe a certain degree of logic to the team finding a quarterback with physical tools and some measure of success playing in a pro style offense at a young age.
I don’t think I’ve struggled so much to see the logic behind a Jets move like this in five years.
Sometimes a player gets a deal that you think is overpriced, but you can talk yourself into it. Maybe you don’t think he’s worth it. Maybe you argue. You can at least see the perspective even you think it’s an overpay.
That’s where we’d be if Winters’ contract was cut in half. What we have looks like a stunning overpay to me.