The New York Jets went through an exhaustive process to find their new General Manager after firing Mike Tannenbaum. John Idzik wasn’t a flashy name and he didn’t captivate the New York media with an opening press conference filled with witty, quotable remarks. Yet, just about every decision he has made since then has given reason for optimism.
Idzik didn’t walk into a desirable situation. This was a depleted roster with limited financial flexibility. The previous couple of years were filled with too many organizational leaks and highly questionable scouting decisions. Rebuilding is a sensible way to describe the Jets goal for this off-season. Idzik has slowly began clearing out the rot from the roster he inherited, made sensible low-cost additions, shown an eye for talent, along with take a patient, quiet approach to handling business. It cannot be overstated just how badly this organization needed those traits.
The local media reveled in the “Rex-odus” of free agents the Jets let walk off their roster, neglecting the fact there shouldn’t be urgency to overpay for key components of a team who went 14-18 over the past two seasons. Mike DeVito? A nice player. You can’t pay him 4 million per year to back up your first round picks from the previous two seasons, both of whom are more talented players. La’Ron Landry? He had a great 2012. You can’t guarantee him 14 million dollars for playing his first 16 game season since 2009. It takes about 10 minutes of film breakdown to see you’d have to be insane to consider giving Shonn Greene 10 million dollars, like Tennessee did. Dustin Keller managed himself a glorified 1 year deal on the open market, while Brandon Moore, Calvin Pace, Sione Pouha, Bryan Thomas and Bart Scott are still free agents.
Were there pieces who would have been nice to keep and could have made positive contributions in 2013 and beyond? Of course. Yet, considering how much money is currently tied up in Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and David Harris (THANKS MIKE T!), along with Darrelle Revis’ situation not being figured out yet, you can’t fault Idzik for letting the players walk that he did.
With a limited amount of spending money, the Jets picked their spots in free agency. Nearly every player they signed has a degree of injury risk but the amount of guaranteed money given to them is exceptionally low (2.8 million total between 6 players) and no long term contracts were given out. These are “prove-it” contracts, where the Jets have an opportunity to find long term starters or quickly cut ties if the players can’t stay on the field or produce.
Make no mistake, if Willie Colon is on the field, he is an upgrade over Matt Slauson or Brandon Moore. Mike Goodson will run circles around Shonn Greene’s 2012 production if given the same amount of carries. Dawan Landry will do everything that Yeremiah Bell did in 2012, if not more and Antwan Barnes is a more talented pass rusher than anybody the Jets lined up at outside linebacker the past two seasons. Idzik is identifying talented players and getting them cost effectively. This process could be further emphasized if the Jets get Chris Ivory on their roster, a highly talented back who the Jets may be able to obtain for a 4th or 5th round pick.
Obviously, we still need to see how the Darrelle Revis situation is resolved before casting a more concrete judgement on Idzik but he has shown remarkable patience with the process so far. Despite a media blitz of epic proportions from TEAM REVIS, the Jets have correctly realized there is no rush to make a knee jerk decision on such a critical issue. In the meantime, the rumored cost Tampa Bay is willing to pay for Revis has continued to increase and Revis is currently at the team’s facility working out…who knows, maybe him and Idzik will actually get to sit down and a more amicable relationship could be established with his agents than the one Mike Tannebaum had?
A beautiful part of Idzik’s regime so far has been how locked out the local media has been. There no leaks. There are no anonymous sources. There hasn’t been a single transaction that has been reported by the New York media, it has all come from the Jets directly or from national media outlets. Everything that has been speculated about on this team from the local media has been completely off-base. Idzik has his organization on lock-down, an impressive task in this market and a needed one after how the previous couple years had went.
We will learn more about the type of GM Idzik truly is in the next month or so. How will he handle his first NFL Draft? Will there be any resolution to the Revis situation? Can he lock down Chris Ivory or make a few more cost effective roster additions after the NFL Draft? Regardless, he is off to a good start and Jets fans should be optimistic about the direction their franchise is headed.