The yearly free agency period in the NFL is an annual rite of passage for fans of all teams around the league. Diehard team devotees want their team to sign all the best players in order to make their team the next Super Bowl champion. Lists will be made, then remade as each name is crossed off the list. After all the big names have been listed they will appear in a myriad of articles. After free agency has run its course more articles will then be written saying which teams were the big free agent winners and losers.
For the most part (I’ve been saying this for over a decade) free agency is a game played by fools, suckers and hustlers.
No one knows this better than Jets fans, who have seen numerous players signed over the years to big money contracts that two years later the Jets are desperate to get out from under. Sometimes not only do these contracts destroy the salary cap, the players become poison in the locker room, making things even worse.
For the most part teams that continually sign free agents to big contracts have GM’s who have poor skills at finding talent in the NFL draft. If you draft well then you don’t have to buy players from other teams at inflated prices (suckers). Also if you draft well you usually lose players in free agency because you have so many players that you want to keep, but you can’t afford them all. When this happens those teams who draft well are rewarded with compensatory picks, so now they have more chances to find talent in the draft. They didn’t want to keep the player yet they get rewarded for those players with picks (Hustlers).
Those GM’s who continually sign high priced free agents don’t last very long in their jobs because they have losing franchises (Fools). They get fired, then the team brings in another poor slob to clean up the mess. If he doesn’t draft well the whole process starts again. The new GM is starting out behind the eight ball because of the mess the former GM has left. The new GM has to be proficient right away or his team will continue to lose and then he will be replaced by someone else. It becomes a revolving door.
How to avoid horrible, team crushing bad contracts
You have to be a skeptic as a GM in free agency. You have to search for bargains even in high value contracts. What I mean by that is there are reasons teams are letting players go. You have to assume they don’t want that player anymore, so why would you want them? Even if the team that has the player another team desires says they really want to keep that player, how do you know if that statement is true? They could just be trying to increase the amount of the contract so the team will enjoy a higher compensatory pick. You (as a GM) need to find a plausible reason why that is not the case. In which case you can reasonably assume the player may be worth a contract.
- If a team drafts a player and has the salary cap to re-sign that player, and then they choose not to, that should be a huge red flag about that player. There must be a good reason the team is letting him go. If some player beat him out for the spot why would you want to sign some other team’s 2nd best player at that spot for big money? I mean the team that drafted the player knows him better than anyone else. If they don’t want him why should you? Even teams in salary cap hell will find a way to keep a player they really like. You rarely if ever see a real game changing player come to the free agent market. If teams can’t afford that type of player they will trade him for a larger package of picks rather than a single compensatory pick. Kind of like what Denver did with Von Miller this year.
- Find out as much as you can about that player’s character. Don’t take his word for it, do your research. Every team has a squad of investigators to dig up background info on not only pro players but also college players as well. Put them to work. A good investigator is worth his weight in gold if he saves you $70 million on a contract that becomes toxic. Think about a five year contract as if someone wants to take your daughter on a 5 year long trip. You wouldn’t just shake his hand when he says “yes sir” or “no sir” and say okay. No, everyone is going to be all smiles and agree with whatever you say when you’re about to hand that guy a check for $70 million. Find out who he really is. When Mike Maccagnan gave Trumaine Johnson $72.5 million it was written that he never even met with Johnson before he signed him, which is insane.
- Every team runs their own versions of offensive and defensive schemes. Bring in your coordinator to see how this player fits in your system. Hold his feet to the fire and let him know he better be right or we may have a new coordinator next year. The NFL stands for “Not For Long” when you make big mistakes in free agency. The fact of the matter is if you mess up a couple of huge contracts the team is going to do poorly and you are all going to lose your jobs anyway so make sure. Don’t guess.
- When your team has been a downtrodden franchise for years (like the Jets) don’t sign a player to a big money contract over the age of 30. The reason is that almost every football player wants his last contract to be substantial to help in his retirement. He might not give the effort you expect because he is signing for the money, not to compete for a championship. If your team does well in acquiring talent you might be playoff competitive in a few years so that player will not be around when you become competitive anyway. Also football is not a contact sport it’s a collision sport. A veteran has had many collisions over the years. Every player who plays a number of years in the NFL has permanent injuries. Over time and more collisions their health may get worse, the chances they could become debilitating at some point increase the longer they play. Ability is synonymous with durability. If you can’t play you can’t help the team.
- Some of the best free agent contracts can be smaller contracts given to players with something to prove. Some players are drafted into a system that doesn’t really fit their skill set. You can find value in a player who needs a change of scenery as long as there aren’t any serious discipline problems involved. If the player is of good character, working hard to rebrand their career, they could be a diamond in the rough. Many of these type of contracts are one year affairs with little to no guaranteed money.
- One superior (contract) player added to a team is only successful if the team is trying to make a run at a championship. Don’t expect to have a high priced player come into a losing situation and turn a team around. One player cannot change the attitudes of 52 other players. Unless his name is Tom Brady going to a new team, that team is not going to view the new player as a leader. Respect in football is earned, never given. They need to see it on the field not in the press clippings. Eventually that player might be viewed as a leader after practices and team meetings. As a GM you won’t know if your players will respond well to a new player, they all have their own personality. If you are paying for that ahead of the fact, you are a fool.
- There are times when high priced free agents do more harm than good before they ever take a snap with their new team. Players on that new team may not view the new player as someone who is better than players already on the team. They feel that that money should have gone to a current teammate instead of someone from another team. Now there is less money available under the salary cap for the rest of the players. For many players money is respect. If they feel it went to the wrong person they can feel disrespected, which is going to severely hurt the moral of the team.
- In order to have successful free agent signings you must have a person who not only understands the salary cap but also what those players bring to the team, with the knowledge of how to use them effectively as well. An example is what Bill Parcells did with the Jets when he became coach.
Times when the Jets did a great job in free agency
The Jets in 1994 gave Pete Carroll a single season to turn things around in New York. He didn’t turn things around, he went 6-10 and was replaced by Rich Kotite. Kotite had an aging Boomer Esiason at QB and things got worse. The Jets finished their first season under Kotite with a 3-13 record. The Jets then replaced Esiason by giving Neil O’Donnell a 5 year, $25 million contract. $25 million for 5 years was an insane amount of money for any player in 1996, but especially for a middling talent like O’Donnell, who did well in Pittsburgh with great talent surrounding him.
The first year of the contract O’Donnell lost his first 6 games, then got hurt warming up on the sideline before the game. He was done for the year, and the Jets went 1-15 on the year. That was all for Rich Kotite. The Jets brought in Bill Parcells. Parcells had to change the culture of the team. Winning was now important. In his first year Parcells got the Jets to 8-4 before they lost the next two games. O’Donnell suffered a knee injury, replaced by a young Glenn Foley. The Jets won the next game but lost the finale to finish 9-7, tied for 2nd place but out of the playoffs by a single game. Parcells liked Foley more than O’Donnell. Parcells wanted O’Donnell to take a pay cut, he wouldn’t so Parcells released O’Donnell only 2 years into a 5 year contract.
The Jets then signed a center named Kevin Mawae to become the leader on the offensive line. He signed a massive 5 year/ $17 million contract with the Jets. Mawae was 27 at the time and a Pro Bowl center with leadership abilities.
Parcells was not a fool, he wasn’t just wasting time talking with people. No, he was gaining info on the players and his opponents. He might have been smiling and laughing with those he talked to but he was also taking notes in his head. Parcells came off as a hard-nosed disciplinarian who screamed at his corn flakes in the morning, but he was a really intelligent guy who used psychological ploys to motivate his players. He took advantage of every opportunity he had to give himself an edge. With Mawae, Parcells heard all those players talking about his drive and leadership. Parcells wanted that for his team. When he had the chance he went out and got it.
The Jets then signed Curtis Martin ( who was tendered a contract by New England) to a six-year, $36 million contract. However, because of the unique “poison pill” structure of the deal and complex CBA stipulations, it was agreed upon that New England would receive New York’s first- and third-round picks in the 1998 draft should they choose not to match the offer sheet for Martin. They chose the picks.
Essentially, the “poison pill” (no longer allowed in contracts) is a component in a contract offer which features stipulations that make it arduous or impossible for the team in possession of a tendered players’ rights to match an offer on that player. In Martin’s case the “poison pill” would have made the entire $36 million of the contract guaranteed. New England didn’t want to be on the hook for that.
The Jets then signed Vinny Testaverde with an eye towards starting him eventually. Testaverde’s contract plus what was left on O’Donnell’s contract actually saved the Jets $2.75 million against the cap. The first two weeks of the season Glenn Foley started. Foley injured his ribs and Testaverde replaced him in the starting lineup after the second game of the season.
These moves were crucial in the Jets winning the AFC East that year with a 12-4 record. Remember the Jets were a 1-15 team only two years before. The Jets beat the Jaguars that year in the divisional round, then led the Denver Broncos 10-0 with 12 minutes left in the 3rd quarter of the AFC Championship game, only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champs 23-10.
Parcells spent a lot and gave up a lot in terms of draft picks, but he knew his team and what they needed to compete. He had Curtis Martin in New England so he knew the character of the player better than anyone. The following year Testaverde tore his Achilles tendon in the first game of 1999, which doomed the Jets to an 8-8 record. Parcells then retired (briefly). Bill Belichick became the head coach of the Jets for a few hours, then left to coach the New England Patriots.
Times the Jets did poorly signing free agents (only a select few of many)
This list could become excessive in length so I will highlight some of the more egregious examples of foolhardiness by the Jets.
$72.5 million/5 year debacle.
The paragon of a money grab. Johnson was surly and didn’t practice hard. He was once beaten late in the 3rd quarter for a 43 yard gain by an UDFA (Robert Foster) practice squad player who was called up the day before the game and didn’t even know all the plays. It would have been a TD had not Morris Claiborne run down the receiver at the 18 yard line. The pass was thrown by backup quarterback Matt Barkley, who also had little knowledge of the plays. Johnson was late to team meetings and was benched by Todd Bowles for lack of effort. Johnson played in only 17 games.
Darrelle Revis (2nd go around)
$70 million/5 year deal with $39 million guaranteed.
The Jets had Revis in his prime. He was one of the top 10 shutdown cover corners in NFL history for a short period of time. Then Revis needed knee surgery. He never looked the same afterward. The Jets made a fantastic deal by sending him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 1st and 4th round pick. Tampa saw he had little left so they cut him after a year. The Bucs still are mad at the Jets for that fleecing.
Revis signed with a powerful Patriots team and was on the Super Bowl winning roster. He then was insanely overpaid by the Jets. Revis was obviously diminished from his former All-Pro self. He received a concussion against the Texans in 2015 (the same year he signed his contract). Revis made the Pro Bowl on reputation and 5 INTs. He was released two years after signing his contract.
$3.8 million/2 years
Mason at the time was 37 years old and had been cut by the Ravens earlier in 2011. He had a grand total of 13 receptions for 115 yards for the Jets.
The guy who couldn’t hike straight or block right lasted 13 starts for the Jets in his attempt to replace Nick Mangold
$3 million/1 year
Dimitri is only in here because of the bizarre happening when Patterson skipped an exhibition against the crosstown Giants and allegedly went missing. Patterson never played a down for the Jets. It was one of John Idzik’s best moves as Jets GM.
There are other players like Santonio Holmes getting $45 million with $24 Million guaranteed, then being named Captain. Holmes proceeded to become a guy complaining about the team in the locker room, then he got kicked out of the huddle at a crucial point in a playoff hunt.
The Jets also let Laveranues Coles go in free agency, then a year later they signed Justin McCareins to a 7 year/$30 million contract. McCareins caught only 7 TDs while a Jet.
How has Joe Douglas done in free agency?
We will start with the 2020 season, as Joe came into the 2019 season after the NFL draft. Since free agency starts before the NFL draft you can’t gauge the effectiveness of a GM when he didn’t have all the options that other GMs had. I will also only look at players who were not on the roster the year before.
WR Breshad Perriman WR one year $8 Million with $6 million Guaranteed
Perriman accumulated 30 receptions for 505 yards and 3 TDs.
Perriman didn’t become the deep threat the Jets had hoped for when they essentially used him to replace Robbie Anderson. Perriman caught only 50% of his targets from Sam Darnold. So you have to wonder if his cause for lack of production was on the QB.
Bottom line the stats were not worth the cost, but the attempt was spot on. If you remember Perriman had torched the NFL in the last 5 games of 2019 with the Tampa Bay Bucs. This signing didn’t work out, but it was worth the gamble.
G Greg Van Roten three years, $10.5 million with $3.25 million Guaranteed
Van Roten was a low risk signing with little in guarantees. Was he a great signing? NO. Then again his signing didn’t prevent the Jets from developing another player at the position. The Jets could have replaced him at any time (like now). Whereas this is in no way a win for Joe Douglas, it isn’t really a loss either. Was Van Roten just slightly above horrible? Yes. Did the Jets have anyone better to replace him with? No. In hindsight the Jets could maybe have found someone better to protect their young QBs. This was a Joe Douglas shot, it missed but no harm no foul so we move on.
C Connor McGovern three years, $27 million with $18 million guaranteed
This was a not a cheap signing, as Joe Douglas pretty much said that McGovern was going to be a Jet for two years with the guarantees. I liked the signing (but not the length of the contract or the guarantees) when it happened because the Jets had searched for a Nick Mangold replacement since he retired in 2016. I wasn’t thrilled with the way McGovern played in 2020 though and although he played better in 2021 he still (in my eyes) wasn’t close to good enough. He ranked 10th best (per PFF) in the NFL but I think that is more the state of the centers in the NFL than an endorsement of McGovern’s play.
I was not happy with all the guaranteed money McGovern received either. It meant there was no way the Jets would think about replacing McGovern (for two years) no matter how he played. That was a mistake. Douglas was desperate and McGovern’s agent knew it. Douglas flinched and McGovern got a huge contract with massive guarantees. As a GM to make that choice is a gamble. McGovern was not going to be the Jets center in 5 years after signing the contract.
What if you have a chance to get a solid, really solid prospect 1 year into the deal but you can’t select that player in the draft because of the guarantees in the McGovern contract? You are literally giving up a chance at a player who may play great for you for a decade at least for a guy who may last only two years. ,
There were two players in the 2020 NFL draft I wanted the Jets to select. One was Tristan Wirfs, an OT from Iowa who had great character, great power and could be a Jet for a lifetime. https://voxmedia.stories.usechorus.com/compose/d1df7487-a014-457a-a265-a43a317e62fa. Wirfs was selected not only to the Pro Bowl but also as an All-Pro in 2021.
I also loved Creed Humphrey, a center from Oklahoma who decided to go back to school and was drafted in 2021. https://voxmedia.stories.usechorus.com/compose/bfa51c30-d3c6-497a-bbe0-012da57dc759. Getting both would be reminiscent of the selections of Brick and Mangold. Both are trend-setting high character type players who would be foundation picks for the Jets. By giving two years of guaranteed money to McGovern there was no way the Jets would choose Humphrey.
It prevented Joe Douglas (for whatever reason) from selecting Humphrey in 2021 even though he lasted until the 63rd pick. He was the #1 rated center per PFF in 2021 as a rookie. We traded away two 3rd round picks to get Alijah Vera-Tucker when we could have stayed where we were and selected OT Christian Darrisaw and saved our 3rd round picks to trade up to get Humphrey with us getting back another pick. Darrisaw this year (even after core muscle surgery) was rated better than any of the Jets’ offensive tackles.
So this year the Jets could already have two young starting tackles (one an All-Pro) and a center, then use a couple of picks to select two guards (which are usually easier to find than tackles) and select maybe both Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson, and we would have a young, powerful offensive line plus a learning franchise type (we hope) quarterback by sometime on April 29, 2022. Yet that now is impossible.
That line is not in our future because this is the type of thing that happens when you give big guaranteed money to a free agent. I understood that Joe Douglas had holes to fill and the locals wanted to see some results but you have to have a vision of a team and a plan to make it happen. To build a young line that could grow with your franchise type QB in 3 years should have been a goal. The great Bill Walsh once said “Your path and purpose will become crystal clear when you begin to trust your vision.” That “vision” should have been a young, powerful, protecting offensive line for any rookie QB he brought in. The best friend of a young QB is a strong offensive line and a running game. The two go hand in hand with each other. Joe Douglas had a 6 year guaranteed contract, he could have been building that line from his first year on without the worry of being fired. Another Bill Walsh axiom rings true here “concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.”
McGovern is still only 29 years old but he will be moving on when (or if) Joe Douglas gets this thing turned around. A center is crucial to an offensive line. The Jets could have had a young one for the next decade but instead will be looking for one in a short period of time. In the end the signing of McGovern to that contract was a mistake in my mind. If Joe Douglas could have seen where we could have been we wouldn’t be where we are now.
OT George Fant 3 years $27.3 million with $13.3 million guaranteed
Fant was the first player Joe Douglas signed in free agency. I was nearly apoplectic at the signing. I expect when the Jets spend that kind of money they will get quality. In my mind this was not the type of quality I had wished for. I questioned if Joe Douglas had the type of vision to build a championship caliber team. I still have those questions.
Fant’s first year was not at all good. This last year he played better, especially at pass blocking as a left tackle. He is still a poor run blocker. Still, he had a better year in 2021. This is why I would trade him now, when his value is at its highest. Fant had his career year and a good GM would recognize that and take advantage of it.
The Kansas City Chiefs will need a new left tackle. They currently have only $14.4 million left on their cap space with only 39 players under contract. Their left tackle Orlando Brown is a free agent and will want big money. Franchising Brown would take most of that cap space. Joe could receive their 2nd round draft pick (#62) in return. If he can do this the signing of Fant would have been a success and I would have been wrong. If he doesn’t then the signing was a mistake. Fant is 30, he will not get any better than he is and won’t provide the Jets with any upside. He will need to be replaced. If the Jets would somehow become a playoff type team in two years the team will be looking to replace Fant as that playoff window opens. Free agent tackles are immensely expensive and a rookie would have to hit the ground running, being great right away for the Jets to continue that playoff expectation.
The other signings in 2020 of LB Patrick Onwuasor, QB David Fales, QB Joe Flacco, CB Pierre Desir and C Josh Andrews were basic depth signings that all GMs make. They had no future with the Jets and they could have been somewhat valuable if they were needed.
Joe Douglas needed a big splash in the 2021 free agent market since most of his moves he had made as GM have been less than stellar. He knew a splashy signing would get the wolves off his back if even for a short period of time. He did that by signing
DE Carl Lawson 3 years $45 million with $30 million guaranteed
Douglas needed to get his new coach an edge rusher. It might have been something Saleh told Douglas he needed or he wouldn’t sign up to be the coach. The Jets were bereft of talent, Saleh knew he had to have something to work with if he was going to get the defense in some sort of working order. The edge presence is crucial to Saleh’s defensive scheme and Douglas gave him what he wanted.
Lawson was available because he was a part time player for 3 of 4 years in Cincinnati and had but 20 sacks total during his years there. I guess you could say that Lawson had good fortune to come out when he did, the need was high and the talent base was thin in free agency for edge players.
In reality it was written that Lawson was doing very well in Jets camp, albeit against a relatively poor offensive line of the Jets. The Jets had high hopes for Lawson until the injury that cost him the entire year. No way Douglas could have seen that coming. It wasn’t his fault but Douglas’s splash signing was a huge belly flop into the free agent pool.
WR Corey Davis 3 years $37.5 million with $27 million guaranteed
I guess Douglas needed another splash signing but this one was more of a cannon ball. I never understood this signing. Davis was selected with the 5th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft to be the #1 receiver for the Titans by Jon Robinson, who I have a lot of respect for as a GM. Davis was selected before Jamal Adams, Mike Williams, Christian McCaffrey, Patrick Mahomes, Marshon Lattimore and Deshaun Watson, all of whom have had much better careers by far than Davis.
Davis never had more than 65 receptions or even 1,000 yards in a single season. He only caught 61% of his targets at Tennessee and even though he was given every chance he never became that go-to guy. The Titans were forced to draft another receiver A. J. Brown in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft and he (as a rookie) immediately became the #1 receiver with over 1,000 yards which was 450 more yards than Davis.
I know Douglas wanted to give his new QB a big target to throw to but Davis was the same player he was at Tennessee except he dropped more catchable balls than he did before. Davis never really developed as a receiver from college where he was a star. As a GM any time you are projecting a player from a non-power conference into the NFL you must do so with a wary eye. Davis dominated in the Mid-American conference but never did so in the NFL. It doesn’t mean he can’t play, it just means he’s not worth $37.5 million with $27 million guaranteed. The Jets still don’t have a true go-to #1 receiver.
RB Tevin Coleman 1 year $1.1 million with $400,000 guaranteed
The Coleman signing wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t get much money plus he knew the system the Jets were running from his time with the 49ers. You should not have expected much from Coleman as he played on 63 snaps the year earlier because of injury.
WR Keelan Cole 1 year $5.5 million with $5 million guaranteed
Cole was somewhat of an established receiver when he became a free agent as a 4 year veteran. He had only 159 receptions which is about 40 a year plus he played in every game for the Jaguars during that time. Like the Jets, poor QB play resulted in poor results for all the Jacksonville receivers relative to what their stats would have been with a top end QB. When the Jets signed Cole it was written that other teams had an interest in him but the chance to play a significant role made the Jets attractive to Cole.
In the end Cole wasn’t the factor the Jets had hoped for in 2021. Cole had a mere 28 receptions in 15 games so a little less than 2 receptions for about 30 yards per game.
It will be interesting to see what the Jets do with Cole. He is still in the prime years of his career (28). Cole now has a year in the offense so he knows the scheme and he is familiar with Zach Wilson. Is he worth the $5.5 million? Probably not but you would expect more production from him in year two if the Jets want to re-sign him.
The Jets have a lot of holes with not enough premium picks to fill those holes. So the re-signing of Cole would give the Jets another viable receiver.
DT Sheldon Rankins 2 years $11 million with #6 million guaranteed
I was quite happy when the Jets signed Rankins, the thought of adding a powerful defender to the group the Jets had was enticing. Rankins was healthy and in the prime of his career so what was not to like? I’m sure the Jets were as stunned as I was with the lack of dominance he showed. I was expecting Rankins to raise the unit as a whole to new heights. Yet just the opposite happened. The Jets defensive line regressed quite significantly.
Rankins’ play didn’t pass the eye test and his PFF ranking was last by far amongst his Jet counterparts. Rankins was ranked 103rd out of 118 interior defensive linemen in the NFL. If the Jets wish to part ways with Rankins it would result in $750,000 of dead money, which seems like a no brainer of a move as of now. There are significant prospects on the defensive line who could be of interest to the Jets. In fact I saw Joe Douglas clapping while talking to Travis Jones of Uconn at the Senior Bowl. I think there may be significant interest there.
This is what happens at times in free agency. You make a solid move for good money but the player doesn’t perform up to the standard you want. It’s tough to blame Joe Douglas on this signing, it looked like a great move but it didn’t work out.
DE Vinny Curry 1 year $1.3 million with $1 million guaranteed
The Jets moved him to the reserve/non-football injury list from the exempt/NFI list before the start of the season. He was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that required the removal of his spleen and triggered complications that caused him to miss the entire season. While he is not under contract for 2022 he stated that he would be able physically able to play if the Jets wanted him to.
Another swing and miss by Joe Douglas that wasn’t his fault. Things happen.
S LaMarcus Joyner 1 year $3 million with $2.5 million guaranteed
Here we go again. Joyner started the season along side Marcus Maye and lasted 9 total snaps before Joyner tore his triceps muscle and was out for the season.
Another swing and miss by Joe Douglas that wasn’t his fault. Things happen. There seems to be a theme going on here that is not good. Sometimes veterans have injury problems but nobody could have envisioned these types of problems happening.
LB Jarrad Davis 1 year $5.5 Million with $5.5 million guaranteed
Davis was brought in to help the Jets who were short defenders on the 2nd level of the defense. An ankle injury that happened against the Green Bay Packers in preseason kept him sidelined until week 8. When he did come back Davis was near invisible. In 9 games he made a total of 25 tackles (solo + assisted) with no sacks and no TFL.
Again Joe Douglas would be hard pressed to foresee injuries or even how a young Davis (24 years old) makes 100 tackles 6 sacks and 10 TFL in 16 games but at 27 years old he makes 25 tackles in 9 games.
Davis has had some injuries over the years so maybe his body can no longer handle the rigors of the game nor is his speed the same as before.
C/G Dan Feeney 1 year $3.5 Million with $3 Million guaranteed
Feeney was a pure depth signing, he has experience in all three interior line positions which is a valuable skill set to have. Feeney isn’t very good at any of those positions but he makes up for it with the best mullet in the NFL which helps very little. The Jets can do better than this and that starts by drafting better which brings in better talent.
TE Tyler Kroft 1 year $2 Million with $1.5 Million Guaranteed
Kroft missed 8 games with various injuries during the year, which is near par for the course for the last 4 years. His stat line of 16 receptions for 173 yards and a single TD is not good. The Jets could find better in the draft or the free agent market
Justin Hardee 3 years $6.75 Million with 1 Million guaranteed
Hardee was brought in to help the special teams that had slumped in 2021. It was a move by Joe Douglas that was universally applauded by many including myself. The contract was a little pricy but special teams are important. Sadly the move didn’t work out as Hardee was an also ran on the special teams units. He finished the year playing in 16 of 17 games but made only 12 total tackles of which only 5 were solo tackles. Hardee had made more tackles the year before while playing in only 10 games.
It’s a steep price to pay as his salary for 2022 is $ 1.8 Million for minimal production. You can bring in a rookie who will make 1⁄4 of that plus he may be developable as a defensive player in the future. Hardee rarely plays on the defense.
To say that Joe Douglas was snake bit in free agency is an understatement. Joe took that huge dive into the waters of the free agent market but instead dove head first into the feeding zone of some great white sharks. I mean come-on man. Carl Lawson: out for the season. LaMarcus Joyner: out for the season. Vinny Curry: out for the season. Jarrad Davis: out 7 weeks. In addition significant non-free agents like Marcus Maye missed eleven games and Mekhi Becton went out for the season after 1 game.
It couldn’t go much worse for Joe but this is some of the risk you take with veteran players. Some of the moves he made hindered him drafting some impressive looking rookies. He also traded up for a guard when a tackle would have been nice to have as well.
Joe is still pretty new at this so maybe he can learn from some of his lack of vision. The problem is he has 62 players under contract but still is nearly $50 million under the cap plus he must certainly jettison some high-priced players who didn’t work out. When you have that kind of money left over after a season in the NFL it means you have a young team with very little veteran talent. That’s not a good thing.
The Jets need to stop buying high priced players and start developing high priced players. That starts with quality drafting and not using draft picks to move up in the draft for non-premium positions. Offensive tackles, edge rushers, #1 wide receivers, tight ends (elite), QBs, CBs (elite), safeties are tough to find. Use the picks you have wisely.
Joe Douglas is in a make or break season in 2022. He has the draft capital he needs to change the culture and the future of the Jets. He can’t hit a single, he’s up to bat with the bases loaded and he needs to drive in some runs with an extra base hit. This draft (I believe) will cement Joe Douglas’s legacy with the Jets whether it be good or bad.
He better not whiff.
That’s what I think.
What do you think?