The Jets gave two year contract extensions to head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan yesterday. Let’s take a look at some of the implications of the move.
There will be no regime change in 2018.
This one is obvious. Bowles and Maccagnan are back for at least one more year as a result of these extensions.
If you have been paying attention, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The Jets aren’t typically great at keeping a secret when they are considering making big changes. There were constant rumors about Mike Tannenbaum’s status before he was fired in 2012. The same went for John Idzik and Rex Ryan before they were fired in 2014. In both instances, reports broke that the Jets had begun reaching out to potential candidates before firings were made.
In this case, there wasn’t much smoke suggesting changes were imminent. Over the last week, rumors about Bowles potentially moving to the Cardinals started sprouting up, but there was never anything to indicate the Jets would be willing to let Bowles move on.
2018 isn’t a Playoffs or bust year.
The original contracts of Bowles and Maccagnan ran through 2018. If the Jets were looking to ramp up immediate pressure, they could have held off on these extensions. That would have made it clear jobs were on the line in 2018. Even one year extensions, would not have left these guys with much security. Two year extensions take a lot of the immediate pressure off.
The Jets might be less inclined to spend big in free agency.
The Jets will surely sign players in free agency. The team is in need of upgrades up and down the roster, and the team has ample cap space. The question is whether the Jets will go on a massive splurge and spend to the cap like they did in 2015 or take a more modest targeted approach.
As I thought through the extensions yesterday, I came to the conclusion this question might have been the driving force for the decisions.
If you have a general manager without a contract, he likely will view 2018 as an audition to keep his job. He would then use all available resources to make the 2018 team as good as possible. Of course, sometimes moves that work in the short-term are bad in the long-term and work against the team building a sustainable winner.
You never want the general manager focused only on the next season. You want his focus to be on the long-term health of the franchise.
Of course, Mike Maccagnan has historically been aggressive in free agency through his tenure so it is possible this will have no impact on his approach. He might just believe free agency is a major component of roster building.
The Jets might be less likely to take a band aid approach at quarterback.
You could probably argue it either way, but when people in charge feel secure in their jobs they can afford to have more patience. That means with extensions the people running the Jets might be more apt to go with a young quarterback and live through growing pains. People with their jobs on their line might be more apt to go with a proven veteran who has already gotten through growing pains.
Bowles and Maccagnan are probably tied at the hip.
Over the last two years, there has been plenty of debate about whether Maccagnan has been held back by Bowles and vice versa. Those debates will continue, but they are moot. When the Jets hired them three years ago, they were clear the two guys needed to work together. Either both would succeed or both would fail.
Friday’s announcement reaffirms that. The two men got identical extensions. They are on the same schedule to produce results.
The Jets kept their word about showing patience.
Before and during the season, owners talked a lot about patience. There were plenty of buzzwords about looking beyond the win-loss record and focusing on the long-term. These have been staples of the franchise for years. Then once the team has lost enough games they have been forgotten, and patience has given way to major changes. By retaining Maccagnan and Bowles after a less than stellar year in the standings, the Jets indicated they are backing up their talk.
These guys still don’t have as much job security as you might think.
Bowles and Maccagnan have more job security today than they did two days ago. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have a ton of time to turn it around, though.
It might be true that 2018 is not Playoffs or bust. There is a difference, however, between saying, “This isn’t Playoffs or bust,” and, “These guys keep their jobs after 2018 no matter what.” After the 2018 season, these guys will have only two years left on their contracts. Two years worth of salary isn’t overly burdensome for ownership to pay, especially since the Jets are no longer paying any additional fired general managers or head coaches.
The fact of the matter is we are three years into this regime, and the Jets are no closer to having a championship roster than the day these guys started. While the Jets are offering a second chance after the first attempted rebuild in 2015 and 2016 failed to launch, patience eventually runs out without results. The Jets need to start showing substantial progress and quickly. There likely will be no third chance.
These guys almost certainly will be able to survive a 6-10/7-9 type season where young talent starts to blossom, and a young quarterback shows signs of taking command of the team. I’m not certain they could survive another 5-11 type season without much young talent emerging. They certainly can’t survive past 2019 without the team taking a major step forward.
The extensions bought these guys some time, but that time is probably only one to two more years.