Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at the best and worst of Maccagnan’s first four years as Jets’ General Manager.
Bad: Neglect of the Offensive Line
Credit Maccagnan for the Kelvin Beachum signing. Beachum has been an underappreciated, yet solid tackle who has started all 32 games in a Jets uniform. Outside of Beachum, Maccagnan’s additions and overall attention to the offensive line have been underwhelming. He has allocated two draft picks to the offensive line in four years (one of which no longer on the team), and his FA signings have been subpar (Hello Spencer Long!). His failure to properly address the offensive line has been a significant contributor to the Jets’ failures. Hopefully the addition of Kelechi Osemele via trade begins to change that problem.
Awful: The 2018 Free Agency Haul
The Jets entered the 2018 offseason with over $100 million in cap space to spend (sound familiar?). That spend yielded Spencer Long (cut after one year), Terrelle Pryor Sr. (cut midseason), Isaiah Crowell (cut after one year), and Trumaine Johnson. While some good moves (Avery Williamson and Teddy Bridgewater – a move I will commend later) were sprinkled into this FA haul, the lack of impact overall and especially beyond one year is exactly why many called for Maccagnan to accompany Todd Bowles out the door.
The Worst: The Christian Hackenberg Selection
In round two of the 2016 draft, Mike Maccagnan selected Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall selection. This proved to be one of the worst picks in Jets history, as Hackenberg never saw the field in the regular season despite the team’s struggles. Hackenberg has since found his way to the AAF developmental league only to struggle further and get benched. Maccagnan compounded this mistake by seemingly doubling down on Hackenberg in 2017 and passing on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson (reminder that this fact can still hold true even though Jets fans are happy with Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams).
Good: The Brandon Marshall Trade
In part one of Maccagnan’s 2015 “competitive rebuild,” he traded a 5th round pick to Chicago for WR Brandon Marshall. While Marshall’s success essentially lasted only one year, that one year was special enough to warrant this move as one of Maccagnan’s best. Marshall caught fire with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and running mate Eric Decker to boast the single greatest season by a WR in Jets’ history. In 2015, Marshall posted 109 catches for over 1500 yards and 14 TD’s on his way to a Pro Bowl.
Better: The Sheldon Richardson Trade
As the Jets 2016 season imploded, it became apparent that Sheldon Richardson was not going to be part of the Jets’ long-term plans. Right before the 2017 season began, Maccagnan traded Richardson to Seattle for a 2nd round pick and WR Jermaine Kearse. Although Kearse proved to be a disappointment in 2018, his 2017 contributions were significant to an offense that outperformed expectations. And the 2nd round pick that this trade yielded was later utilized in a trade to move up to draft Sam Darnold.
Best: The Post Kirk Cousins Sweepstakes
When it became apparent that Kirk Cousins was using the Jets for leverage and had no intention of signing, Maccagnan executed his Plan B to perfection. He quickly moved to re-sign Josh McCown (albeit for $10 million) and then signed Teddy Bridgewater to a 1 year, $6 million deal with only $500K guaranteed. Maccagnan, with the help of VP of Player Personnel Brian Heimerdinger, then moved swiftly to trade up with the Colts to the third draft spot – ultimately guaranteeing themselves one of the top 3 QB’s in the draft. That pick then turned into Sam Darnold (thank you Giants!) who fell to #3 and got the Jets their long-awaited franchise quarterback. His move up without losing an additional 1st round pick, and subsequent move to trade Bridgewater to New Orleans for a third-round pick just before the season is far and away Maccagnan’s best work as GM.