Moves New York Jets Will Regret Not Making This Offseason
John Idzik's second offseason as general manager was not quite the smashing success many predicted it would be, but not because he spent wildly. More than anything else, the New York Jets will have more feelings of regret because of what they didn't do than what they did do.
While they can take solace in knowing that they did not dole out any big-time contracts that will keep them strapped for cash for years to come, they still have a plethora of needs that must be addressed in the draft.
Here are some of the moves the Jets will regret not making when the season starts.
Contract information provided by Spotrac.com.
Fumbling the Acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
If John Idzik had one mulligan on a player he passed on, there is no doubt that he would use it on cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Rodgers-Cromartie may not have been the single best cornerback in this year's free-agent class, but he was the last elite man-to-man specialist remaining—and the Jets let him walk out of their own back door. The Jets allowed Rodgers-Cromartie to leave their facility without a contract, take a short drive up the interstate to sign with the New York Giants.
Because Rex Ryan's defense is so reliant on quality play from the cornerback position, the Jets put themselves in a desperate situation where they had to sign Rodgers-Cromartie. At the time, the projected starters were Dee Milliner, who was benched three times last year, and Darrin Walls, who has no extensive starting experience as a former undrafted free agent.
Idzik's offer was nowhere near as attractive as the one the Giants eventually signed him to, offering more money and security—the decision to sign with big blue was a no-brainer for Rodgers-Cromartie, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta:
Giants: $10M SB/ $16M in 1st 2 yrs RT @adbrandt Jets wanted prove it deal for DRC: $6M this yr w/options. Offer didn't match recruiting zeal— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 18, 2014
Realizing that their offer was far below the market price, Idzik and the Jets made a desperate, late offer to try to reel Rodgers-Cromartie back to Florham Park, but the damage was already done:
Jets made 11th hour offer for DRC after an initial low-ball offer. However, it was too late by then. Giants had all but wrapped up deal #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 18, 2014
Meanwhile, frustration began to brew within the Jets, as it became clear that Idzik's stubbornness in negotiations was going to cost the team in the short term, according to Jets Confidential's Dan Leberfeld:
"This is on him," a source told http://t.co/lUFrpZEN8d about John Idzik not signing Rodgers-Cromartie.— Dan Leberfeld (@jetswhispers) March 18, 2014
The Jets were able to add Dimitri Patterson to put a band-aid on the wound, but the Jets will enter this season with a rather mediocre set of cornerbacks, putting Rex Ryan's ability to run his preferred defense in jeopardy.
Letting Geoff Schwartz Go Without a Fight
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was not the only (or the first) player the Jets lost to their neighborhood rivals. Their slow-paced approach to free agency also cost them the services of guard Geoff Schwartz.
According to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.com, the Jets were interested in Schwartz from the opening bell of free agency. Despite his steady play in 2013, the incumbent Willie Colon could not be relied on after suffering a torn bicep in the season finale. With Colon also set to hit free agency, replacing him with a much less injury-prone player in Schwartz would have been a home run.
However, the Jets never really got a good shot at acquiring Schwartz, who was gobbled up by the Giants in the early stages of free agency. The Giants may have paid a premium to land one of the best guards on the market, but they no longer have the same concerns on the interior of their offensive line that the Jets find themselves with.
As a result, the Jets were forced to bring back Colon in hopes that he can make a full recovery before the season starts. If Colon's injury carries over into next year, the Jets may be forced to play one of last year's draft picks, Oday Aboushi or William Campbell, who spent the entire 2013 season on the inactive list.
Relying Solely on Jeff Cumberland
To call the Jets' situation at tight end "bleak" would be a gross understatement. Not only were they already average at the position last year, but both of their starters, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow, were set to hit free agency.
The Jets responded by extending Cumberland, who has yet to post more than 400 yards in a season, relying on the draft for a complementary player.
Despite his average production, retaining a young player like Cumberland makes sense—if there was a proven player on the roster who could fill in the holes in Cumberland's game. In particular, Cumberland is a poor blocker and the Jets have no one else at the position who can at least be serviceable in this area.
The Jets were aware of their need for a more proven commodity at the position, evidenced by their interest in Brandon Pettigrew, who would re-sign with the Detroit Lions. The most puzzling aspect of how the Jets have handled this situation is the non-interest they have had in any other free-agent tight ends, appearing to give up on the position altogether.
Because of their inaction, the Jets will be forced to use a high pick on the position—a difficult and costly task considering their other needs.
Passing on a Second Wide Receiver
As solid as the move was, by no means did it solve the Jets' longstanding woes at the position. Decker is a high-end No. 2 receiver that has yet to prove that he can carry the bulk of the passing-game load on his own.
The Jets needed to add at least one more proven player at the position, and once again, Idzik responded with inaction.
Despite alleged interest in every receiver between Emmanuel Sanders, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, and DeSean Jackson, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Jets are set to line up either Stephen Hill or David Nelson opposite the newly acquired Decker.
The good news for the Jets is that this year's draft class is loaded with quality wide receiver prospects. If the Jets strike gold on one of their picks, their decision to pass on so many receivers will be vindicated.
However, relying on an unproven rookie to step into a starting role and contribute immediately is always a risky proposition, regardless of how talented the prospect is—something the Jets have learned firsthand with Stephen Hill.
Never Seriously Pursuing Darrelle Revis
As wild as the concept of a Darrelle Revis return may have seemed, from a pure football perspective, the Jets were crazy not to be in serious pursuit of Revis immediately following his release from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If the Jets were able to put aside their old differences with Revis' camp, they would have been able to easily afford the contract demands of Revis, solving their cornerback position once and for all with the premier cover man on the planet.
His one-year, $12 million contract he signed with the New England Patriots would have easily fit under the Jets' budget. If this were to happen, Idzik would have made the genius move of essentially renting an injured Revis for a first- and fourth-round pick, only to re-sign him a year later.
Plus, a Jets-Revis reunion would have prevented the rival Patriots from adding the All-Pro cornerback to their roster. Now, not only do the Jets have to worry about replacing their former star, but they now need to figure out a way to throw against him twice a year.
It is unclear to gauge exactly how much interest Idzik had in pursuing Revis, but doing the unthinkable and bringing back a franchise-defining player he traded would have been a spectacularly brilliant move.