The playoff-contending Jets (8-5) are one of the surprises of the NFL this year after finishing the 2014 campaign 4-12 and undergoing major offseason changes. As ESPN’s John Clayton writes, plenty of credit goes to first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan. The former Texans executive was at the helm of a makeover last winter and spring that saw the Jets bring in rookie head coach Todd Bowles, spend over $179MM on free agents (Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist and James Carpenter being the most expensive additions), and acquire two key offensive cogs – quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and receiver Brandon Marshall – for a mere late-round pick apiece.
While Maccagnan’s methods have paid off this season, the organization is cognizant that it has plenty of long-term work to do, per Clayton. The Jets have 10 starters in their 30s, so they need to stockpile youth. In terms of finding a young, high-impact player, Maccagnan’s draft history with the Jets got off to an excellent start last spring with his inaugural selection, first-round defensive end Leonard Williams.
As far as the upcoming offseason goes, Clayton expects the Jets to give raises to Fitzpatrick and running back Chris Ivory, slap the franchise tag on D-line stalwart Muhammad Wilkerson, and free up cap space by releasing Cromartie.
Elsewhere around the league…
- As long as either Tom Benson or his wife is in charge of the Saints, Mickey Loomis is likely to remain the team’s general manager, according to Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com. Head coach Sean Payton is under contract for two more years, but his status going forward is less clear than Loomis’. Payton could look for another job in the offseason, and Woodbery doesn’t expect Loomis to stand in Payton’s way if he wants to seek work someplace else. However, Woodbery does believe the Loomis-led Saints would require significant compensation from any hypothetical team that tries to hire Payton.
- The stellar play of Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler means he’ll cash in eventually, and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald took a look at how much the 25-year-old could make in the coming seasons. Howe thinks the Pats will give Butler a first-round tender as a restricted free agent after next season, which would cost just under $4MM. Then, as Butler pushes closer to unrestricted free agency in 2018, he could end up with a four-year deal in the $36MM range. He might not get that money in New England, though, as the club has decisions to make on a slew of important players other than Butler in the coming offseasons and won’t be able to retain all of them.
- The Buccaneers have drafted a combined one defensive player over the last two years (fourth-round linebacker Kwon Alexander last spring), but that should change in 2016, opines Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Tribune. Stroud looks for the Bucs to upgrade at cornerback and add outside pass-rushing help to a defense that ranks 28th in quarterback rating against (100.5) and has forced just one turnover over Tampa’s last four games.