When the Jets season ends on Sunday December 30, 2018 it is a foregone conclusion that Todd Bowles will be fired. Those moves usually happen on the following Monday. With two games remaining his head coaching record with the Jets stands at 24 wins and 38 losses. As bad as that record is you have to factor in that the Jets were 10 and 6 in Todd’s first year. The last three years have gone from bad to worse, so everyone seems to agree that Bowles is gone once the season ends.
Which brings us to the General Manager position that Mike Maccagnan currently holds. There has been much debate about cleaning house completely and starting over fresh vs letting Maccagnan pick the next head coach. If Maccagnan picked the next coach it would probably mean the organizational structure would change. Currently both the head coach and GM report directly to the owner. Well technically since the owner isn’t in the country right now the head coach and GM report to the owner’s brother. That is the question though, should Maccagnan stay or should he go? What I am going to do at this time is share a post from our forums. This was posted by a long time JetNation member, let’s call him S.E. You can read the entire thread and his case against Mike Maccagnan appears below.
Maccagnan is demonstrably horrible
Because someone had the temerity to suggest Maccagnan has done a good job here – or even an acceptable one – page one of JetNation must be counterbalanced with another highlighting how awful he is and has been.
There’s a well known expression, that gets repeated around here a lot, about the definition of insanity. Keeping a GM like Maccagnan makes me think of that. Another that comes to mind goes something like those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. Well plenty have brought up draft picks, particularly those drafted outside the top 6 overall (where a junior high school kid could credibly succeed if armed only with an internet connection) — selections that range from the merely terrible to the outright humiliating. However Maccagnan is and has been the GM here, and not merely the head of college scouting, so let’s see more of the non-draft GM’ing we can expect more of in the future by looking at the past…if you get an hour with nothing to do, lol:
Right away he set the stage to lose Damon Harrison instead of extending him while he had all the leverage. It’s stupidity he’s repeated to this day, and the only reason it isn’t more obvious is he has signed so few players worth keeping that there’s again a mountain of cap room. It’s doubtful Snacks would have cost even $6MM per year as a RFA in the spring of 2015, when no one would fork over a 2nd rounder to pry him away from us (nor was there a leak anyone offered us anything at all for him, to see if we’d take a 4th rounder or something) — not even after the draft, when a surrendered pick wouldn’t come due until the following season. We had a mountain of cash to spend, and instead of using a mere $5MM-ish of it to reinvest in the DL’s keystone, it myopically went on short-term older and bad veterans listed below. So we lost him in 2016, after 1 more year of his consistently good play, and then spent $3.5 MM/year on Steve McLendon to replace him. This FA Master decided that the 30 year-old McLendon and ~$2MM/year savings was worth more than the 27 year-old Harrison. After the swap, the Jets’ DL immediately fell apart and it hasn’t been the same ever since.
Where’d that mountain of cap money go instead?
David Harris at $7.5MM per with 2 years fully guaranteed. It was utterly ridiculous at the time to pay him like a top-5 ILB. He was slow 5 years earlier in his mid-20s when Alge Crumpler, who looked every bit of 300 pounds in his final NFL season, ran him down from behind (and from across the field) after a pick was thrown right at him in the playoffs. Solid player once upon a time, but at this time to hand him this contract was just foolishness. It foreshadowed what was to come from a GM who was in way over his head from the start.
Antonio Cromartie at $7MM for 2015 (and $8MM per beyond that if kept) was insane. It may have been only 1 year, but they paid him 2 years of his annual value in that 1 year. Arizona got him for half that in between his Jets years. Worse still, this stupidity was offered afteralready signing Revis and Skrine. Was Bowles the one who had Cro on his wish list? Undoubtedly. That doesn’t mean you pay any price if you know better. Macc didn’t know better. Bowles actually tried making excuses for Cro’s terrible preseason, citing how he’s a slow starter but it’ll get better. It never did, and he was cut after just 1 year of paying him at the rate of a top 15 corner.
Darrelle Revis ended up as 2 years at a jaw-dropping $19.5MM per because Maccagnan guaranteed him some $10MM more than #2-bidder NE, after he already showed he wasn’t the player he once was (and was never going to be again). But hey, he got to show off to his boss that he was the one who got Revis back. Revis showed him why even the 2nd-highest bid was so much lower. So we were treated to one pretty good season for $39MM.
Marcus Gilchrist at $5.5MM per. Cut after 2 years for sucking on the job.
Buster Skrine at $6MM per. Since 2015 he has been every Jets fan’s favorite player to rip on, and makes every Jets fan’s list on whom to cut the following season. At least now he won’t be on those lists because he’ll be a FA. Get that? This is the shining example of a successful Maccagnan FA signing who played out the entire contract.
Brandon Marshall at $9MM, but the reality to the story is he was given to us by a Bears team that wanted him not just gone, but gone specifically to the Jets so we wouldn’t draft a “#1” WR in the slot ahead of them the following month. Any draft pick they got in return was gravy.
James Carpenter. At $5MM per season he looked like a brilliant pickup those first 2 seasons. Well he was the leftover starter remaining after other FA targets decided to sign with other teams, so it’s not like Carpenter was the target. I think the top target was Boling (can’t remember for sure), but he got extended last minute. Next target was Iupati, and after going full court press on him, the guard signed with Arizona instead. Carpenter was the leftover, and exceeded all expectations for ’15 and ’16 (if it was expected, Carpenter would have been the first choice at this price). But that ended abruptly in 2017, and we still kept him on for another lousy season in 2018 because Maccagnan brought in or drafted nobody else (again). If the drafts weren’t so OL-barren maybe he could have been benched in mid-2017 and (appropriately) cut before 2018. Trapping himself into keeping this player for 2 substandard seasons at full pay badly tarnishes the original signing.
Quinton Coples. This one gets forgotten about, because we got lucky, but had Coples gotten injured before he got benched in 2015, the Jets would have been locked into paying him $7MM in 2016 because Maccagnan exercised his 5th year option. Coples was cooperative enough to play even worse, without getting badly injured, so he was able to get benched and then cut before he stubbed his toe in the locker room.
For all the money spent, there isn’t a single totally-good pickup in the whole bunch, and the draft looks even worse with the benefit of hindsight. This should tell anyone how useless the NFL Executive of the Year award really is. Maccagnan’s tenure unfortunately didn’t end at the 2015 offseason, though:
Fitzpatrick the 2016 free agent was an extended, national embarrassment that made Maccagnan look like the enormous amateur he was and is: offering a contract no one else would consider matching, and leaving it out on the table for 5 months of refusal by the player. Then after he caved to Fitz and they agreed $12MM for the season – i.e. after they got some firsthand glimpses of Hackenberg on the practice field – Maccagnan childishly leaked to the media that Fitz had 24 hours to show up to sign it or the GM was rescinding the offer. What an insecure a-hole. Meanwhile if he’d simply cut ties with Fitz instead of offering a 3-year extension, someone else would have signed him. We’d have been rid of him, we’d have had another $12MM to play with, we could have moved on as a team, and as a bonus we would have been granted a compensatory pick for losing him on top of it all. Most of all it would have forced his hand to do the right thing and move up to #1 in the draft instead of staying pat while figuring Fitz was his ace in the hole, and fully piss away two NFL seasons in the process for nothing. A smart GM, if he was going to re-sign Fitz at all, makes a deal with him during the 2015 season not after it’s over with Fitz then a UFA eyeing the latest year of salary inflation. Waiting too long on extensions is a pattern with Macc that continues to this day.
Breno Giacomini. The Jets had a bit of a cap problem after all Macc’s early spending. Breno wasn’t a Maccagnan acquisition, but by 2016 the guaranteed portion of his contract was comfortably behind us so he was year to year. He was far too injured to make the opening day roster, wasn’t good even when 100% healthy, and instead of cutting him like he should have – or at least negotiating a large pay cut in exchange for a guaranteed roster spot – Maccagnan keeps him at full pay ($5MM; then still decent starter money for a RT). What was the concern — that there’d be a mad rush for teams to sign a badly-injured Breno off waivers at $5MM? Well after 7 weeks on the PUP list he returned to the 2-5 Jets. After just 5 starts he went on IR and rookie Shell filled in the rest of the way. Remember total wastes like this $5MM when the Jets could have signed this or that player for an extra million or two per season more than they offered.
Ryan Clady. This was a mess of Maccagnan’s own making; he was not a victim of circumstance here. He did nothing with regards to the overpriced Brick while FAs (e.g. Okung) signed elsewhere. Then a week into April he suddenly gives Brick an ultimatum: take a 50% pay cut or get released. Brick refuses, which unnecessarily creates an hole at LT two weeks before the draft. To fix this he then trades away a mid-round pick for the unreliable Clady, who predictably gets injured, and after playing injured for over a month has to go on IR for the 2nd half of the season. Basically about $1MM per game for Clady; even more if you want to count only healthy games. A smart person would have just done nothing and wait to the draft (or at least wait through the first 3 rounds) instead of creating a crisis, or made sure he signed an available FA LT when he had the chance. Amazingly, after this failure injured half-season, this boob of a GM actually offered Clady another new contract to keep him for longer. As is the case with many of Maccagnan’s best non-moves, the Jets were only saved by the player turning it down; in this case due to Clady thinking too highly of his own worth. No one else made him any offer at all, and he retired.
Brandon Marshall. After showing himself to be a (if not the) major source for major discord in the locker room in 2016, this doltish GM offered him an extension. Much like with FAs a year later, the offer was turned down because even Marshall didn’t want to spend more time on teams Maccagnan was charged with assembling.
Jarvis Jenkins. This useless sack of crap was paid $3MM as a UFA to be a backup for half a season, in the same offseason we were due to lose a handful of qualifying UFAs. If Jenkins wasn’t such an impossibly awful pickup, and they could justify keeping him for 1 full season, this pickup would have cost us a 3rd round compensatory pick. Read that again; that is exactly what Maccagnan the great FA picker-upper signed on for. A technicality that gave him a redo he never thought he’d need, plus Jenkins sufficiently demonstrating his full uselessness prior to week 10, allowed Maccagnan to be rescued from his own sub-moronic plan.
Matt Forte. A has-been who’d been on a steady decline for years. Maccagnan signed this north of 30 years old RB starter-money, guaranteed this starter money for 2 seasons, and as a cherry on top this pickup canceled out the mid-round compensatory pick we’d have been awarded for losing Chris Ivory to FA. After 2 generally poor seasons, Forte’s going away present was lobbying to Bowles to fire the only Jets coach/coordinator who didn’t call plays like he was trying to get the Jets some spots in NyQuil and Unisom commercials.
Bilal Powell. I’ve liked Powell better than most, I think, but as a GM you sign either Forte or you sign Powell, not both. Pick one veteran, then draft young players for this youngest-man’s position. Locking himself into both of these guys for 2 years – plus the compensatory draft pick each cost – undoubtedly influenced undervaluing RB prospects’ worth to the Jets when our picks were coming up. Instead of Kamara or Hunt (current news on the latter notwithstanding), the “value” move for Macc was trading down …and drafting Ardarius Stewart.
When a GM surrenders a compensatory draft pick or fails to trade a player for a pick, it’s the same as trading a pick itself instead of keeping it. He’s choosing one over the other. Well in 2016 alone, Maccagnan was prepared to trade away 4 draft picks so he could sign/re-sign Jarvis Jenkins, Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, and Steve McLendon (I’d throw in Fitz in there but a team is limited to 4 compensatory picks in any one season; so swap him in place of any of the other 4 if you like). Think those draft picks weren’t valuable? He did, and he spent half the ensuing 2017 draft trading down to get them all back, and in doing so drafted inferior prospects. He really stinks at this.
Muhammad Wilkerson. Another embarrassment. Macc could have extended Mo in 2015 when his price tag was likely in the $10MM/year range. He didn’t, because he wanted to trade him instead. Fair enough, but he was and is so bad at this: his asking price of a 1st & more was beyond what anyone would pay. Then a year later in 2016 – after Mo’s 12 sack season – he repeats the same exact mistake, seeking a 1st rounder yet again, which of course still no one would pay. Then the 2016 draft comes, and he’s miraculously offered a rescue parachute that would cleanly solve all of his biggest problems at once: trade up to #1 and draft a franchise QB. It would have made his then-embarrassing Fitz debacle go away; would have made the Mo holdout and non-negotiation go away; and would have solved the little problem of getting a great young QB in his 2nd year on the job. It would also have saved him from the embarrassment of a QB he did draft. Maccagnan passes up on it all because he felt an extra 3rd rounder made the price too steep. He instead passes up on Goff (or Wentz) at #1 and stays where we were at #20: he drafts Lee, drafts Hackenberg, signs Fitz for $12MM, and then to make room for Fitz he signs Mo to a $17MM/year contract that ended up being $37MM for 2 years (and no draft pick) — for a player he wanted to trade away in the first place. And as though all that wasn’t enough, we find out later that Maccagnan knew of Mo’s lazy tendencies beforehand.
Sheldon Richardson. While people are fast to point to the Seahawks rescuing Maccagnan from his own stupidity, let’s examine. He had Sheldon, Mo, and had just exercised the 5th year option for Coples when he drafted Leonard Williams with the 6th overall pick. Coples aside, since he was still standing up at OLB, it’s still one too many: nobody runs a 4-man line with no edge rushers on it; it’s just too slow regardless of the individual talent. Moving Sheldon around (including at LB) gets poked fun at by fans, but he was too good to keep on the sideline and it was an effort to get all his best players on the field and Sheldon was easily the most athletically versatile among them (especially in 2016 after Coples was long gone). The solution was to move at least one of them then – either right after drafting Leo, or at the latest after that 2015 season – while both Mo and Sheldon had higher trade value. Instead all 3 were kept for two full seasons. The 2nd rounder for Sheldon of course carried the trade value of a late 3rd rounder, since the pick didn’t come until the following season. That’s the calculation Seattle made, and saved Maccagnan from his stupid self because his phone wasn’t ringing off the hook despite everyone knowing he wanted to move Sheldon. For all the fan cooing over that transaction, we should have already had our FQB before May of 2016, using either Mo or Sheldon to move up to #1, with that opportunity offered on a silver platter. Instead we went with keeping Leo and Mo and Sheldon, drafting Christian Hackenberg, and then bringing back Fitzpatrick (followed by McCown after him). This is the domino effect of not making a move when the opportunity is there, with multiple NFL seasons unnecessarily wasted, as the byproduct of Maccagnan’s ineptitude.
Ben Ijalana. Though this 2017 FA signing seems insignificant amid some of these whoppers, it should be noted that even after seeing up close what little he brought, and after signing Beachum to a 3-year deal, Maccagnan then signed Ijalana for nearly $6MM for that same 2017 season (eventually declining the following year option at ~$5MM). What this did was effectively make a meh but not unreasonable Beachum UFA signing at $8MM per in actuality a $14MM signing for the Beachum-Ijalana duo at left tackle. For 2017 the Jets spent as much on that Beachum-Ijalana duo as any other NFL team spent for its left tackle starter+backup combo. This was in a planned tank offseason, no less; if Beachum was bad again what would have been the harm? It’s not like Ijalana is the cure to left tackle ills anyway.
Brian Winters. Entering 2016 Winters was a $3-4MM guard: a marginal starter drafted somewhat recently, with some potential. Winters did a fine job when Colon went on IR, but his play before that was spotty to say the least. Maccagnan has it leaked out he was going to make a play for Osemele in FA. If the Jets did sign Osemele then Winters would lose his starting job and spend the final season of his rookie contract as a backup. That was the time a good GM locks up his young guard. Maccagnan doesn’t. And he doesn’t sign Osemele either, because the Raiders offer him like $12MM – left tackle money at the time – and Maccagnan had already blown too much cap room in 2015 to afford that (especially with Fitz and Mo situations lingering). So he waits until another full season goes by, and after painting himself into a corner is forced to fork over an $8MM/year deal for a guard he could have had for about half that in 2016 (certainly for no more than Carpenter got a year earlier as a full UFA with a former 1st round pedigree). The reasons this doesn’t look so bad? First is the other 4 offensive linemen – the ones that Maccagnan actually brought in himself – are all worse players than Winters. Second is the massive amount of cap room because the team has so few of Macc’s picks & pickups worth extending/keeping.
Trumaine Johnson. Looks like the latest in a long line of FAs who don’t come close to living up to the price paid, using the Jets for their final cash-ins before mailing in their careers. I never saw a player tweak his quad a little in practice and then miss a month (or rather, I hadn’t until this season). Turning 30 at the close of the 2019 season, he was always going to be in danger of getting cut after the 2 year guaranteed portion of his FA contract ran out. Therefore it was in his interest to just go after the largest guarantee, no matter where that was, and structure it with a purposely-lower year 3 amount to entice the team to keep him for the first of the non-guaranteed seasons. Basically unlike the other ultra-high dollar FAs who turned us down, he didn’t have their concerns about cutting their careers short by choosing the wrong team in 2018, losing perhaps tens of millions in the process.
Spencer Long. Of all the things Maccagnan knew he was doing in March or April of 2018, it was getting his franchise QB. Whether that was his first preference for signing Kirk Cousins for an all-guaranteed $90MM/3 deal, or signing on to willingly accept the leftover 3rd-best QB in the draft, one of those two scenarios was definitely happening. Though the 2017 OL was again lousy, and yet again put a starting QB on IR, the entire net sum of OL improvement Maccagnan made in FA and the draft combined? He upgraded from his previous season’s pick at center – a healthy but lousy Wesley Johnson – at $2.7MM to a lousy center with injury concerns at $7MM, whose latest injury made snapping the ball an unpredictable adventure for the QB. Long is guaranteed $3MM of his $6.5MM for 2019 if he’s on the roster the 3rd day after the superbowl, so the Jets must make a decision on him before they can talk to any FAs (never mind before the draft). That’s some ace contract structuring there, folks. So glad now he’s in charge of contract structuring instead of Davidson.
In the 2018 offseason, agents for NFL FAs used this boob, as we saw players turn him down like we’ve never seen before in the NFL’s free agency era. Literally 5 high-priced FAs told our just-recently extended GM to piss off after using him to up their dollars elsewhere. Despite the cap-flush Jets being the high bidder they chose other teams, rather than play on and risk their names and careers playing alongside the garbage roster Maccagnan had assembled to date. In his 4th season Jets under his watch were quite simply an unattractive destination for those with options.
None of this gets into the FAs and trades that we didn’t make over the last 4 years (e.g. moving up to #1 in 2016) when the opportunities were there. Instead we were repeatedly treated to “The Jets also inquired” in lieu of actual results, or going into a season with emergency/backup plans serving as planned starters without any credible competition (e.g. Wesley Johnson). This ineptitude in acquiring veterans should hardly come as surprising: in his 4th offseason the Maccagnan front office was rated by dozens of NFL agents as being in the bottom 5 worst-prepared in contract negotiations.
This is an embarrassing body of work without even addressing the piss poor draft record (particularly outside the top 6 overall picks, where successful teams annually find themselves), or his willingness to part with draft picks for the likes of Forte, McLendon, Jarvis Jenkins, Rashard Robinson, Zac Stacy, Clady, and more. There are 2-3 of the above player failures that individually should be fireable offenses just by themselves. Taking all of them and more collectively, it’s ridiculous that he should still be employed, let alone extended further, unless it’s just to prevent Macc’s successful successor from being hired without Woody Johnson in charge of the process.
It’s hard to imagine the best possible HC candidates look at all of this and say, “Yep, I want to hitch my career to the players Mike Maccagnan brings in for me.” Maybe they just don’t know about all of this, or maybe that’s what we have to pray for. But it’s harder still to imagine, after 3 consecutive seasons (and counting) of Maccagnan rosters earning top-6 draft picks, that a few Jets fans to actually want more of this trash. One doesn’t just say “Sam Darnold” after passing on 4 successful franchise QBs available to him in the prior 2 drafts, as though success despite ineptitude (i.e. luck) is the likely expectation going forward rather than the enormity of the messes above and even more from the non-top-6 draft picks.
Maybe the thought is this: all the Jets need to build a winner is another decade of regular season ineptitude, so Maccagnan can accumulate 10 more top-6 overall draft picks.