My New York Jets have become the butt of many jokes recently, and rightfully so. Things got so bad this season that Fireman Ed, their unofficial cheerleader, stepped down. The season culminated with the the firing of General Manager Mike Tannebaum, the so called “cap expert” who left the Jets in a salary cap nightmare.
To replace Tannebaum, the Jets brought in unheralded John Idzik, former VP of football administration for the Seattle Seahawks. Idzik was and is facing a massive challenge ahead of him, and while his biggest and defining move (fair or unfair) has yet to be made (Darrelle Revis), he has done well in his first few months on the job,
Coming into the the offseason the Jets were nearly $20 million over the salary cap, but after some roster cuts and contract restructuring, they were able to create $15 million of cap space. Granted, that wasn’t enough to bring back valuable veterans like LaRon Landry and Mike DeVito, but given the circumstances the Jets have done well for themselves.
Idzik waited for the initial free agency frenzy to pass before targeting second and third tier free agents are signing them to short, inexpensive deals. They were able to provide some competition for Mark Sanchez by signing David Garrard for 1 year and just over $1 million. Then they added a quality change of pace back with potential to be more in Mike Goodson on a reasonable deal.
Turning to the trenches, they nabbed Willie Colon to replace the departed Brandon Moore and signed Antonio Garay to replace DeVito as a rotational defensive lineman.
Then in perhaps Idzik’s best move so far they signed Antwan Barnes, formerly of the Chargers, to a 3-year $4 million deal. Barnes has never been a full-time player, yet had 11 sacks two years ago, which is more than any Jet has posted since 2004. At worst he instantly adds a burst to perhaps the league’s worst pass rush and at best, could start at outside linebacker for the next couple of seasons.
The Jets still have plenty of needs (tight end, safety, more pass rushers), and by no means are these moves going to put them among the contenders in the AFC, but they are setting themselves up to be competitive in 2014 and beyond, which for any Jets fan is all you could ask for after last season.