You are a New York Jets fan, and you have been for some time. Youare used to seeing the team suffer heartbreak. Then, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum came to Florham Park and changed expectations. For once, it was expected that the Jets, behind an “ancient” philosophy of playing great defense and being able to run the ball, would compete for a Super Bowl…coming one win away from the big game back to back years only fueled that excitement.
The last three seasons have seen the Jets miss out on the playoffs despite being in contention every year Rex has been here. Tannenbaum butchered the salary cap, and now former Seahawks executive John Idzik was brought in to clean it up. Jets fans were excited because this was a change from a “shop till you drop” philosophy to a more measured approach that could potentially lead to sustainable contention. The belief was that, if Idzik could clean up the cap mess, the Jets could finally field a consistently successful team.
Idzik has spent the last year, in what was once described as a job that “couldn’t be given away”, doing exactly that. He traded franchise player Darrelle Revis for a first round pick (that became Defensive Rookie of The Year Sheldon Richardson) and what is now a 4th round pick. In a deep draft class, the Jets have a chance to draft as many as 12 potentially good players. Idzik wasn’t paying Revis $16M per season, especially when Ryan’s defense still finished number one in passing defense without Revis for most of the season. It was a business move, for sure, but here was Idzik showing faith in his head coach’s defensive acumen. Idzik believed that the Jets, and Rex’s defense, could survive without Revis. Gone are Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. Mark Sanchez, most likely, will follow shortly.
This cleared up a ridiculous amount of cap space. Yet, fans want to question why Idzik hasn’t spent money freely. In fact, they wanna know why Idzik won’t spend like Tannenbaum. This is made worse when players the Jets were “in” on sign elsewhere.
Revis, after being released and playing the media game perfectly, signed with the Patriots for $12M per season. Jets fans were outraged: why didn’t Idzik make an offer? How could he let Revis sign with the Pats? I admit I fell for it too. Brandon Pettigrew and Emmanuel Sanders sign elsewhere and Idzik gets bashed. One CB after another signs, and Jets fans wonder if Idzik knows what he’s doing.
It seems that he does. In the last year, he traded a 4th round pick for a feature running back and signed him to a 3 year/$6M deal. For comparisons sake, the Browns just paid Ben Tate $3.5M per season and the Colts traded a first round pick for Trent Richardson. He signed David Nelson, who was a contributor his first season. He, also, signed Mike Goodson who brought a different dimension to the Jets offense before tearing his ACL. Greg Salas and Zach Sudfeld were, also, quality additions that bolstered the depth of the roster. Willie Colon brought a nastiness to the Jets line, and he could be back with the team. He drafted Dee Milliner who, after turning a corner in Week 9, finished strong and looks ready to take that next step. He drafted Brian Winters, who ended the season on a high note as well. Then, he added his potential franchise quarterback (Geno Smith) with a second round pick and a defensive cornerstone in the aforementioned Richardson. Fans seemingly forget this because they want Idzik to spend.
Then, Idzik signs the top offensive free agent in wide receiver Eric Decker for a contract less than what everyone speculated. He arguably upgrades the RT position for half the price. Idzik, also, seems like he wants to make sure there’s enough cap space going forward to pay the Jets’ own players, like Muhammad Wilkerson and Jeremy Kerley. He’s already resigned Nick Folk, Leger Douzable, Jeff Cumberland, Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster. Yet, there’s still panic.
New York Jets fans, breathe. I know that part of our fandom forces us to play armchair GM. This isn’t Madden, where you can sign everyone and not even worry about next season cause you can restart your franchise. There hasn’t been one move yet that Idzik has made that hasn’t been done diligently. Don’t fall into the trap of reading reports with anonymous sources, because Idzik operates in the Florham Fortress. No leaks spring from there. It’s March 16th. No Super Bowl was ever won by the team that won free agency. You can’t grade Idzik’s moves yet because he’s not done working.