Here are some thoughts and observations after digesting the news of the Jets firing general manager Mike Maccagnan and looking ahead to what’s next:
1. One area of fallout from Wednesday’s news that the Jets may have not anticipated was the reporting that emerged about coach Adam Gase not being fully onboard with the signing of running back Le’Veon Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal in March.
Sources told me that Gase likes Bell the player, but felt they did not have to pay that much to get him. There were other reports that Gase did not want Bell at all.
With Bell already a no-show for most of the spring program, it is fair to wonder how the Bell/Gase relationship will be now that these reports are out in the atmosphere.
To me, this is an easily rectified issue for Gase: Blame the media. Gase can tell Bell it is all nonsense made up by the media. Bell probably has his own issues with reporters after the last few years in Pittsburgh and could choose to trust his head coach. We are often a common enemy for players and coaches.
Once Bell gets in the building, Gase better treat him like he was the one banging the table for the Jets to sign him, or Bell will see through him.
But I think this is not as big of an issue as it might seem. As far as Bell staying away from workouts, I think Gase surely wants all of his players to be present, but the Jets know Bell is working out. They see him posting videos on Instagram of his workouts in Florida. Gase also has been in contact with Bell, and I don’t think this will be a big problem for Gase as long as Bell shows up for mandatory minicamp.
2. What now for Maccagnan? I don’t think he will get another GM job. I imagine he will slide back into the scouting world, possibly as a college scouting director somewhere or another front-office position. Maccagnan is respected in the scouting world and surely has some friends with other teams who will want to bring him aboard.
Maccagnan never seemed fully comfortable as GM. He probably will enjoy going back into a background role and not having to be front and center. His legacy with the Jets will be Sam Darnold and how the quarterback ends up playing. If Darnold leads the Jets to a Super Bowl someday, all of us will be calling Maccagnan to talk about that draft pick.
3. It did not take long for Gase to make his mark as interim GM. Maccagnan’s seat was not even cold when Gase shipped linebacker Darron Lee to Kansas City for a sixth-round pick.
You could argue the Jets should have held onto Lee because he could have been a useful situational player with his speed and coverage skills. But I think the Jets had to get him out of the building. Lee was extremely unpopular with his teammates. He had maturity issues. He ended lasts season with a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. There was a lot of baggage there — too much for a situational player.
Gase is trying to change the culture of the Jets’ locker room. Shipping Lee out is part of that. I don’t think Lee would have been happy after losing his starting job to C.J. Mosley. The last thing Gase needed was a malcontent on the team who was not even a major contributor. Giving him away for a sixth-round pick was the right move.
4. It is still all about Sam. That can get lost in all this noise. But if the Jets do right by Darnold, other things will fall into place. Gase must be the kind of coach who can bring out the best in Darnold through his coaching and play-calling. The Jets must continue to add talent around him on the line and at the skill positions.
A lot of Jets fans felt Wednesday’s announcement was just more of the same for the Jets. Same old Jets is the common refrain. But Darnold is the reason to have hope. He has immense potential. Now the Jets must help him reach it.