Free Agency Review: New York Jets

Key Additions: T Kelvin Beachum ($8M), QB Josh McCown ($6M), CB Morris Claiborne ($5M), K Chandler Catanzaro ($900K)

Key Re-signings: G Brian Winters ($7.25M), T Ben Ijalana($5.5M), LB Josh Martin (1.9M), LS Tanner Purdum ($980K)

Key Losses: WR Brandon Marshall (Giants), CB Darrelle Revis (FA), QB Ryan Fitzpatrck (FA), C Nick Mangold (FA), T Breno Giacomini (FA), K Nick Folk ( Buccaneers), QB Geno Smith (Giants), T Ryan Clady (FA)

Estimated Cap Space: $9 million

Dead Money: $13.5 million

Estimated Salary Per Year: $142 million for 79 players

Snaps Gained/Lost in Free Agency

Role2016 Snaps2017 SnapsChange
Offense11,3509824-1,526
Defense10,8959,963-932
Special4,5823963-619

Player Signings

Kelvin Beachum- 3 years, $24M, $12M guaranteed

Their big addition was left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who at $8 million is actually a bit of a bargain. The Jets waited out a flurry of activity at left tackle to grab the last starting quality player at a decent price. The contract structure probably makes this a two year deal, but there is a little wiggle room to get out of the contract if needed. Grade: B

Brian Winters- 4 years, $29M, $15M guaranteed

While Winters signed his contract way back in January I think its fair to discuss as part of free agency since its part of the Jets future plans. Like Beachum this effectively a two year contract so that’s a positive for this team.  I know when this was signed some people had an issue with the cost since Winters is not a true standout but when you see the way the market evolved for guards the Jets were smart to get the deal done earl and not go crazy over cost. Grade: B

Josh McCown- 1 year, $6M, $6M guaranteed, $2M in reasonable incentives

While this did not come off as panicked of a signing as Fitzpatrick last year, there was some clear reaching here to make sure they have a veteran on the roster for the start of the season. McCown hasn’t played 16 games in a million years and in the last few seasons averaged about 1 win a year. While this works out to the lowest salary in the league for a veteran starter it is far above the norm for a backup and realistically McCown should not earn anything more than a Matt Schaub or Matt Cassel who cost about half of McCown. Grade: F

Ben Ijalana- 2 years, $11.5M

I don’t have any details on this contract besides knowing the Jets signed him for $5.5 million a year. Id expect this to be a straight cash contract so an estimate is reflected in the cap numbers presented above. Its hard to get a firm idea of the contract with just an annual value, but its hard to think that the Jets could not have done better here than they did. This likely has more to do with being a beneficiary of a bad roster than really being a good player. Grade: C-

Morris Claiborne- 1 year, $5M, $2M guaranteed

As far as talent level goes Claiborne is fine, but as far as health here is near the bottom of the list. Since his rookie year in 2012 Claiborne has only appeared in 32 games across 4 years, yet the Jets only have $500,000 towards health. My gut feeling is the Jets effectively copied the Prince Amukamara contract from the year before. I wouldn’t call that a great idea.  I’m not sure where a one year contract even for a younger player fits in here. Claiborne already took a lower cost “prove it” deal last season and did play better but again got hurt.  Maybe they figure they can get someone as a comp pick next year for him but I much rather would have at least seen a two year deal than this. This reminds me a lot of when the team decided to get a lower cost name when they made the move for LaRon Landry when strapped for cap space. Grade: C-

Overall Thoughts

After being one of the more active teams in player spending in 2015 and 2016 the Jets more or less bypassed free agency this year and began the process of dismantling their disappointing team from 2016. The Jets currently rank in the bottom five in roster value and are one of the bottom two on a per player basis so you would not get an argument from me if you said they are setting very low expectations for the season.  They rank third in the NFL for the most dead money, though they will drop a few slots as the year goes on.

The Jets are running big deficits on offensive snaps from last season, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Their loss on the defensive side ranks 12th as there was more action leaguewide on offense than defense in free agency this year, which seems to lend more credibility to the thought that the draft is a defensive draft. Basically the Jets are going to need to find a starter on both sides of the ball in the draft and hope that a few players improve from last season.

It’s hard to really get a handle as to what the Jets were hoping to accomplish with McCown. Basically they tried to put a tiny band aid on a gaping wound that needed stitches.  Signing McCown just seems like a step backwards. Its no different than having Fitzpatrick back under center and if you wanted to take a one year gamble on a player why not just take a one year gamble on one of the younger players?

On the positive side the Jets gutted the roster by purging it of many older veterans and being that many are still unsigned these were pretty much all the right moves. The team still has some work to do with players on the roster and I have to think that there are more pay cuts coming in the future. They also did the right thing by not hurting their future by making big investments on free agents. The Jets currently project to be in the top 10 in cap room next year so they will have the resources to improve if they do in fact hit some home runs in this years draft.

Overall Grade: C



  • McGeorge

    Jason,
    I think the Beechum deal is much worse than you realize.
    There is a provision that if he is selected to the pro-bowl in 2017 or 2018, his 2019 contract year is voided.
    So if he improves back to his pre-injury form, he can leave.
    There is no wiggle room, the Jets are basicly stuck with him for 2 years if he under performs.
    The Jets have all the downside, and no upside.
    Grade: C

    I think Winters is getting paid on the high end, and he’s not a high quality guard., but I won’t quible.
    Grade: C+

    Ijalana – Grade D+

    Claiborne – if, and a big if, he plays well and doesn’t get hurt, he can leave and teh Jets get a compensatory draft pick.
    So I rate it a C+.

    Mike Maccagnan as a GM after 2 years: D

    • I dont mind the third year void in that deal since the trigger is high. Given how contracts have worked out at the position Id be fine with him making a Pro Bowl and then voiding the deal. Realistically if he made a PB the Jets would extend him in that third year anyway. While that may force their hand to extend before free agency I dont see that as a big deal.

  • hkim2016

    I agree that the Jets are in a perfect position to experiment with a younger QB. Why virtually guarantee failure with McCown with little to no upside when you can take a 50/50 chance on a younger guy? I just don’t get that mentality among coaches and front offices.

  • hkim2016

    Still, since McCown more or less = Fitz, why not pay 6M instead of 12M? That part makes sense to me.

  • a57se

    I like that we didn’t sign any high priced guys but we should have left more cap space to carry forward. We’re not winning anything this year so why waste money that would be better spent down the road? Maybe we’ll work out a deal for Sheldon and add 8+ million to our cap surplus.