The 2014 offseason was supposed to the be year the New York Jets finally had the cap room to spend big in free agency. Mark Sanchez‘s albatross of a contract, along with Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes‘ cap numbers, were to finally come off the books, giving the Jets the breathing room necessary to attract new talent via free agency. Alas, the Jets’ offseason has gone a bit differently than most expected, with general manager John Idzik showing discipline and restraint during this free agency period, despite the team having the funds available for the first time in several years. This is a departure from the free-wheeling, spend-big-or-go-home approach most Jets fans are probably familiar with during the Mike Tannenbaum era. Idzik’s slow and deliberate style when it comes to contract negotiations has drawn the ire of some, including coach Rex Ryan, who has expressed frustration at missing out on what he perceived to be key signings.
So, what to make of this? Is Idzik’s frugality to his detriment? Is he a bit gun shy due to the previous management’s excesses? Or perhaps Idzik is looking at the bigger picture, with his sights set on 2015.
It is no secret that it is extremely difficult to win in the NFL without a quality starting quarterback. An even worse kept secret, has been the Jets’ consistent struggles to get reliable production at this position. It’s very possible that Idzik is looking to solve for this in 2015. Next year’s free agent class projects to be one of the richest in terms of talent in recent memory. Carolina Panthers‘ Cam Newton, San Francisco 49erss‘ Colin Kaepernick, as well as Cincinnati Bengals‘ Andy Dalton all have expiring contracts and are set to become free agents in 2015.
Those are some pretty big names.
All of these players have demonstrated an ability to play at a high level in the NFL, are all 26 years old or younger, and have a combined five total playoff appearances out of a possible seven seasons between the three of them. There is no doubt Idzik will be watching these players’ contract negotiations closely over the course of the next year. Should Newton, Kaepernick or Dalton decide to explore free agency, there will be a number of QB hungry teams interested in signing them, but likely won’t have the funds available to make a serious run at these players. Idzik’s patience in 2014 could pay off next year, and put the Jets in position to be able to offer the big bucks these superstars will surely be looking for.