Owner, GM promise Jets to be active in free agency

ByRich Cimini via ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After seven consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, the New York Jets are preparing to spend big money in the offseason to improve their roster.

Acting owner Christopher Johnson, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, promised to be active in free agency. There certainly won't be any salary-cap restrictions, as the Jets will have a projected $100 million in cap space.

Johnson said he'd never mortgage the future for a short-term fix, but he anticipates being able to add players who will help the team over the long haul.

"We'd never go all-in on somebody that would last us only a year or two," he said. "We'll be active in free agency, but it's only going to be adding pieces that can be with us for a good, long time. We're in a really good position to do that."

The biggest question is quarterback. Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan both said they'd like to re-sign Josh McCown, a free agent, but they're also considering other veteran options. McCown, 38, still hasn't committed to playing next season.

The Jets could have some level of interest in Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who will be 30 next season -- still young enough to be considered a long-term answer.

"I think we're going to be very active in free agency," said Maccagnan, who, along with coach Todd Bowles, received a two-year contract extension through 2020. "I do think we have a lot of potential to improve this team going forward."

Maccagnan's philosophy is to build through the draft, but he said there are "quite a few good, young players" in free agency and "there's a lot of potential to go that route." In a 30-minute sitdown with reporters, he made several references to the team's enviable cap situation.

In addition to quarterback, the Jets, coming off their second straight 5-11 season, need help at running back, offensive line and cornerback.

Whether they actually spend to the cap limit is another story. Johnson said he hasn't discussed any cash-flow restrictions with Maccagnan, adding, "And I don't know there will be." He said the plan is to be aggressive, but "in a measured way."

The Jets will recoup $11 million in cap room by releasing defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, which is considered a foregone conclusion. Asked whether he's disappointed in Wilkerson, a healthy scratch for the final three games, Johnson paused 11 seconds before declining to share his thoughts.

Another disappointing player is quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who didn't see any action in his first two seasons. Maccagnan, who used a second-round pick on him in 2016, refused to admit that Hackenberg is developing more slowly than expected.

"The book on Christian is not closed," Maccagnan said.