In the span of 12 days in the summer of 2016, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan handed out two big contracts. On July 15, he signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year, $86 million deal. On July 27, he signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $12 million deal. Those moves tied up the two biggest loose ends around the Jets that summer and were widely hailed as good moves by fans and observers (raising my hand sheepishly.) Whoops. Seventeen months later it is clear those two contracts were mistakes and now are two of the biggest blemishes on Maccagnan’s Jets résumè. Fitzpatrick flamed out last season and the Jets and Wilkerson are heading for a divorce, perhaps as early as Wednesday, after his alarm clock failed one too many times. Throw in the five-year, $70 million deal he signed Darrelle Revis to in 2015 and you could argue that Maccagnan’s three biggest contracts have all been busts. Revis’ deal falls more on owner Woody Johnson, who was pushing to bring him back, than Maccagnan, but it still counts as a Maccagnan signing. The Wilkerson and Fitzpatrick decisions were similar, and you wonder how they will affect Maccagnan’s decision-making going forward. Both players were coming off strong 2015 seasons, but the organization clearly had reservations about paying big money to either one. With Wilkerson, there were questions about his commitment and how he would react once he got paid. With Fitzpatrick, there were questions about whether 2015 was an anomaly that could be duplicated. In both cases, those reservations turned out to be prescient. What is most disturbing about both of these contract failures is the Jets had spent time with the players. This was not like signing a free agent from another team and then finding out his issues. They knew more about them than any outsider did and still they did not seem to trust their guts on the players. Maccagnan buckled at the last minute with both players. Was it public pressure? There were drumbeats from the media to sign both players and it is possible Maccagnan fell into the trap of listening to them.
Jets have $80M to spend, but is Maccagnan right guy to spend it?
New York Post | Dec 20