Power Ranking New York Jets' 10 Best Moves of 2014 Offseason
The New York Jets made a lot of moves, both good and bad, this offseason in an attempt to improve upon the team's 8-8 mark from a year ago.
John Idzik and Co. made their share of headline-grabbing decisions, along with some underappreciated ones. But which of these moves will pay dividends both immediately and in the future and ultimately lead the franchise toward the promised land?
Click through to see the 10 best moves of the 2014 offseason for Gang Green.
10. Not Overpaying for Austin Howard
Austin Howard is an extremely effective starting right tackle who is both a sound run-blocker and a solid pass protector, and at 27, he's entering the prime of his career. He would have provided stability on an aging offensive line, but the Jets front office chose to let him walk in free agency.
This was a smart decision for New York, as Howard's worth is nowhere near the five-year, $30 million contract the Oakland Raiders offered him. Despite only $10.8 million of it being guaranteed, the contract is still ridiculous for a player who doesn't rank among the elite at his position.
Not overpaying Howard in favor of signing Breno Giacomini was a brilliant move for Gang Green, as the Jets still managed to get a tough, serviceable player at a fraction of the cost.
9. Drafting Jace Amaro in the Second Round
Many thought the Jets would make an effort to upgrade their skill position players in this offseason's draft, and the team did exactly that in the second round with the selection of Jace Amaro.
Amaro was arguably the best tight end in this year's draft, and he was undoubtedly the most productive in college. Just last season at Texas Tech, he put up an unfathomable 106 catches, 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns.
Yes, the 22-year-old was in a pass-heavy system that surely inflated his stat line, but it's extremely impressive nonetheless.
Amaro lacks top-end speed, but he's an athletic pass-catcher with great hands and good strength.
Although he has had his struggles in minicamp, he should still contribute in his rookie season and for years down the line.
8. Re-Signing Calvin Pace
Following years of middling sack numbers after signing a megadeal to bring him to New York, Calvin Pace broke out and recorded double-digit sacks in 2014.
Pace is 33 years old, so the timing of his best year in Green and White seems odd. However, it's easy to see why he was able to get to the quarterback more easily than in previous seasons. Opposing blockers had to worry about both Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson up front, along with Quinton Coples on the other side.
Despite probably being a product of his system, Pace still deserved another contract from John Idzik and Co. this offseason, and he got exactly that. The Jets managed to re-sign him for just $5 million over two years.
Pace is a great value, and he should build off his outstanding 2013 and impress once again this upcoming season.
7. Re-Signing Willie Colon
The decision to re-sign Willie Colon was anything but a sexy move. Nonetheless, Colon provides a tough and capable inside presence along the offensive line. He can sometimes struggle in pass protection, but his run-blocking ability is top-notch.
The 31-year-old is coming off both a torn biceps and knee surgery, so it's possible that he could miss some time at the beginning of the year. However, his contract is extremely team-friendly (one-year, $2 million).
The reward of having Colon play solid ball at a position where it's tough to find a good option outweighs the risk that he could be sidelined for a portion of the season.
6. Drafting Tajh Boyd in the Sixth Round
The sixth round of the draft is usually when TV viewers change the channel and NFL teams try to find a diamond in the rough.
The Jets may have found just that in Tajh Boyd.
Boyd wasn't projected to be a first-round pick, but many thought he'd be taken in the middle rounds. The 23-year-old had a tremendous career at Clemson, emerging as one of the most productive and winningest quarterbacks in school history.
He lacks ideal height and his accuracy is a question mark, but his strengths can't be overlooked. His mechanics are extraordinary for a signal-caller drafted so late, he has a powerful arm and he can easily be a dual-threat quarterback at the NFL level.
There's no downside to taking Boyd in the penultimate round, but there's a hell of a lot of upside.
5. Signing Michael Vick
Michael Vick probably won't be anything more than a backup to Geno Smith this upcoming season.
So, why does his acquisition rank among New York's best moves of the offseason?
Because Vick is a colossal improvement over the Jets' backups from a year ago, Matt Simms and David Garrard.
Unlike Simms and Garrard, Vick can step in and perform admirably in a starting role if Smith gets injured or struggles considerably. He will also be a phenomenal mentor to Smith throughout the season, as they have a similar skill set in terms of athleticism and arm power.
Unless a quarterback controversy begins to stir in training camp, the signing of Vick has little to no downside for Gang Green.
4. Signing Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson is nowhere near the player he was in 2009, when he ran for an incredible 2,000 yards, but he still rates among the game's elite home run hitters.
He should form a dangerous tandem with fellow Jets runners Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, as their skill sets complement each other. The former first-round pick can slice and dice opposing defenses with his speed and elusiveness while Ivory and Powell power through them with their strength and ferocity.
The trio of running backs should be a three-headed monster for Gang Green, and they are capable of carrying the offense at times.
Expect Johnson to receive around 150 carries and put together a productive and efficient season.
3. Drafting Calvin Pryor in the First Round
Many believed the Jets would opt to go for a wide receiver or cornerback in the first round of the draft, as those positions ranked as the team's biggest needs. However, New York instead chose Louisville safety Calvin Pryor.
The move shocked some and disappointed others, but Pryor is a splendid player capable of silencing doubters as early as his rookie season. He is a tough-as-nails safety who hits hard and makes big plays on a consistent basis. Basically, he's a perfect guy for Rex Ryan's defense.
And after an extremely impressive minicamp, Pryor seems destined to be Gang Green's next great player in the secondary.
2. Signing Eric Decker
The Jets desperately needed a top-end receiver to open up the offense and give Geno Smith a strong option in the passing game, and they got exactly that in Eric Decker.
While many see Decker as more of a No. 2 option and believe that New York overpaid him, I strongly believe the former third-round pick will pay immediate dividends for Gang Green.
Decker is a terrific route-runner with great hands and size, and his speed is vastly underrated. The former Denver Bronco is also a top-notch option in the red zone, as he ranks third in the NFL in receiving touchdowns over the last three years, just behind perennial Pro Bowlers Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant.
The 27-year-old should become Smith's favorite target from the get-go, and he should easily surpass the 1,000-yard mark in his first season in Green and White.
1. Sticking by Rex Ryan as Head Coach
Gang Green's best move of the offseason occurred literally minutes after the end of the 2013 season. The Jets announced immediately following the team's 20-7 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 that Rex Ryan would return as head coach in 2014.
The decision is a terrific one, as Ryan ranks among the game's best motivators and defensive minds.
Despite missing the playoffs for three consecutive years, Ryan has consistently managed to outperform expectations with limited talent. The Jets desperately want to reemerge as Super Bowl contenders, and I believe he is the man to get them there.