The New York Jets are entering an exciting new era with general manager Mike Maccagnan. The team has brought in some key players on offense and defense that will definitely make the team better, bringing back some old fan-favorites as well as some veterans and role players to fill out the roster. How does each of the Jets’ signings and moves look on paper?
Jets Trade 5th Round Pick for WR Brandon Marshall and 7th Round Pick
The Jets made an early splash before the start of the league year by acquiring veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. The move sets up a receiving core headlined by Marshall and Eric Decker, with Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro reprsenting solid, young options on the rise. Marshall adds a new dynamic to the Jets anemic offense, and the team has one of the best group of receivers it’s had in years.
There’s a reason the Jets are the team that traded for Marshall and did so while giving up very little. Besides need at the position, the Jets had ample cap room to handle Marshall’s contract, which is $7.3 million and rising over the next three years.
Marshall makes the Jets offense more exciting and opens up potential for big plays at any give moment. While it’s still up in the air who will be under center throwing to Marshall next season, his arrival is definitely an upgrade for the Jets often-troubled offense.
Jets re-sign MLB David Harris
After rumblings that Harris may be bolting from the Jets to join former coach Rex Ryan in Buffalo, the Jets retained him on a three year, $21.5 million deal.
This may seem like a knee-jerk move to keep a player whose value is clearly greatest on this team. Harris is a defensive leader and runs the Jets defense on the field, something he may not have done for other NFL teams. In this sense, Harris was most valuable with the Jets and may have not gotten $21.5 million at age 31 from many other teams.
But Harris is just that, so valuable that the Jets could not afford to let him walk. Harris has amassed 123 or more tackles in each of the last three seasons while not missing a single game. Truly the heart and soul of the Jets defense, the team was smart to keep him moving forward into a new era.
Jets re-sign RB Bilal Powell
Another player that was rumored to be spurning the Jets for Ryan’s Bills, the Jets retained running back Bilal Powell this offseason.
Powell brings nothing flashy to the table but is a reliable, depth back. He protects the football exceptionally well and can pound the ball in at the goal line as well as catch it out of the backfield.
With Chris Johnson’s departure from the Jets, retaining depth at the position was important for the Jets. However, it’s disappointing the Jets didn’t pursue more dynamic players like C.J. Spiller and Shane Vereen in free agency. Powell’s signing is solid but could have been much more.
Jets sign former Browns CB Buster Skrine
Buster Skrine was the Jets first big free agent signing this year, joining the squad on a 4 year, $25 million deal.
Skrine will benefit in New York with the insane amount of talent around him on the field. With Revis and Cromartie on the outsides, Skrine will likely be tasked with covering the opposition’s third best receiver at times.
Playing his first four seasons in Cleveland, Skrine collected four of his six career interceptions last season. He will however need to improve his defensive discipline, as he was called for 15 penalties in 16 games last year.
Skrine is a solid cornerback and should improve the Jets defense. However with the Jets already throwing most of their cap room this offseason at corners and Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner still on the roster, it may have not been a completely necessary move. Still it’s hard to blame the Jets, as they came to terms with Skrine before Revis and Cromartie were sure things.
Jets bring back CB Darrelle Revis on mega-deal
The Jets made the biggest splash of the offseason by bringing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis back to the team that drafted him on a 5 year, $70 million deal.
The move instantly shores up a weak secondary and gives the Jets an elite player patrolling the field on defense. Revis will slot in as the team’s top corner for years to come after spending two seasons away from the team.
There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said about Revis. The Jets know what to expect from the Pro Bowler as he’s played with the team for six seasons. He looks to bring back his patented “Revis Island” defense and improve the Jets secondary vastly.
The one thing that can be knocked here is that the Jets reportedly blew the New England Patriots offer out of the water. This means the Jets realistically could have brought back Revis on a slightly cheaper deal. It’s a small criticism, but the only thing that’s not perfect about this deal.
Jets sign CB Antonio Cromartie for 4 Years, $32 Million
Antonio Cromartie had an incredible year last season under current Jets head coach Todd Bowles in Arizona. Playing on a one-year deal after being let go by the Jets, Cromartie proved he’s still an elite cover corner in the NFL.
Playing alongside Patrick Peterson in Arizona, Cromartie totaled 48 tackles, the second-highest mark of his career, and three interceptions, a mark he has at least hit every year since 2009.
Cromartie looks to pick up where he left off both with the New York Jets and coach Todd Bowles. At 31 years old, four years may be a questionable decision, but at $8 million a year the Jets are getting great value to pair Cromartie opposite Revis.
The Jets attacked the problem that was their weak secondary this offseason. Cromartie completes a trio of cornerback signings sure to improve the team’s once shaky pass defense.
Jets beef up offensive line with former Seahawks G James Carpenter
An early move made in the new league year, the Jets added to their offensive line by signing guard James Carpenter. Carpenter has played all four of his NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
On draft day in 2011, the Seahawks stunned the league by taking the Alabama guard 25th overall. Carpenter was considered a third-round prospect at best, and fresh off a 7-9 playoff berth the Seahawks were expected to make more of a splash in the draft.
The Seahawks didn’t miss a beat after signing Carpenter, as they’ve reached two straight Super Bowls. And while no Pro Bowl caliber player, Carpenter has put in some solid work in his four NFL seasons.
The Jets will pay Carpenter about $5 million a year over the next four seasons. It’s about a fair price for the level of talent, but only if he holds up all four years.
Perhaps the most interesting thing Carpenter brings to the table is his championship pedigree. In college at Alabama, Carpenter was part of both SEC and National Title winning teams. In the NFL, Carpenter has seen three playoff berths, two NFC championships, and one Super Bowl title. For a hungry team like the Jets, having a winning culture is very important.
Secondary strengthened with S Marcus Gilchrist
With all the cornerback signings it’s easy to overlook the safeties the Jets will roll out this year. Along with Calvin Pryor, the Jets will now have former San Diego Chargers safety Marcus Gilchrist.
Gilchrist doesn’t have the resume of Revis or Cromartie, and his addition may be underrated. In his fourth season last year, Gilchrist notched the second-most tackles on the team with 76, only one less than his 2013 total of 77. Gilchrist is a solid tackler and provides good coverage.
An area he may not excel in is getting the ball into his own hands. Gilchrist has five career interceptions in four seasons, and only three picks since his rookie year. This shouldn’t be a huge concern for the Jets though, with turnover potential all over the field.
Gilchrist has also showcased his high motor by registering a sack in each of the last three seasons, and also forcing two fumbles in a single game against the St. Louis Rams last year.
A similar contract to Carpenter, Gilchrist signed on for four years and $22 million. Interestingly, only one year and $3.5 million of this contract is guaranteed, giving the Jets an easy path to back out if things don’t go as planned.
Texans trade veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to Jets
For the low cost of a late-round conditional pick, the Jets added a veteran quarterback with the potential to start this season if Geno Smith is not up to the task.
Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick has bounced between a few teams in his NFL career after playing his college ball with Ivy League Harvard. Fitzpatrick is probably best known for his four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, where he threw 23 or more touchdowns in three straight years. Fitzpatrick has also started games for the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans over the course of his career.
Fitzpatrick has quietly started eight games every year since 2008, even when entering the season as the incumbent starter. In this sense, it won’t be surprising if the Harvard man starts a couple games for the Jets this year. But is that a good thing?
At best, Fitzpatrick is a good game manager, something the Jets could actually benefit from. With a strong defense, Fitzpatrick would need to do just enough to the keep the Jets alive offensively and put up a couple touchdowns a game.
He would need to cut down on fumbles, however, as he’s put the ball on the ground an astounding 54 times in his career.
In the late years of his career, game manager may finally be the role Fitzpatrick is filling. He had a career high 95.3 quarterback rating in 12 games with the Texans, along with a career-best 63.1 completion percentage. Fitzpatrick is becoming very efficient in the back-end of his career, and that bodes well if he’s called upon to start.
James Brewer switches from Giants to Jets
Not moving very far at all, offensive tackle James Brewer signed a one-year deal with the Jets after playing 26 games and 8 starts with the New York Giants.
While Brewer has good size at 6’6″ and 330 pounds, but at best Brewer is a depth player. After playing 406 snaps in 2013, Brewer played in only two games last season. In a good offensive line situation, Brewer is most likely not a starter but a solid backup or spot-starter.
The Jets didn’t put a huge investment in Brewer, but his signing is nothing to be excited about.