The Jets have “massive buyer’s remorse” after signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Johnson, who had been franchise-tagged by the Rams in both 2016 and 2017, is now the NFL’s second-highest paid corner behind only Josh Norman. While he may not have played like a No. 1 CB last season, Johnson’s numbers were much improved from 2017. After ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 60 corner in 2017, Johnson finished 24th in PFF’s grades last year. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, ranked Johnson as a bottom-10 corner in success rate in 2017, but 30th in 2018. Gang Green can’t realistically exit the Johnson contract until after the 2019 campaign.
The Jets will not exercise Kevin Pierre-Louis‘ 2019 option, per Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). The move will create another $2MM in cap space for Gang Green, which is already near the top of the league in that department, with over $100MM to spend in free agency this year.
The 27-year-old Pierre-Louis is a linebacker by trade but has seen his most action as a special teams contributor. In the games in which he suited up in 2018, he appeared in the majority of the Jets’ special teams snaps. He saw a little more burn on the defense towards the end of the season and recorded his only sack on December 12.
He was suspended for Week 1 of the 2018 campaign as a result of a January 2018 arrest that resulted in various marijuana drug and traffic charges. Those charges were dropped several months later, contingent on the completion of one year of probation.
He was something of a sought-after commodity last offseason, having visited multiple teams before agreeing to a two-year, $5.25MM deal with the Jets. His special teams value will almost certainly result in another contract this time around.
Pierre-Louis was drafted by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and parlayed a strong 2017 season with the Chiefs into his deal with New York. He is the third player whose 2019 option was declined by the Jets today, joining Terrence Brooks and Mike Pennel.
Brooks came to the Jets before the 2017 season in a trade with the Eagles that saw cornerback Dexter McDougle to go Philly. Since then, Brooks has been a special teams staple for Gang Green. Last year, Brooks appeared in a team-high 79% of the Jets’ special teams plays while appearing in just 6% of the defensive snaps.
This was, for the most part, a season to forget for the Jets, but their special teams unit was solid throughout the year. Brooks profiled as someone who would probably return in 2019, but his $2.1MM cap hit was probably a bit too high for the Jets.
The Jets have a golden opportunity to right the ship in March. Even before dropping Brooks, the Jets were projected to have upwards of $100MM to spend in free agency.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Jets are not picking up the option for the final two years of defensive tackle Mike Pennel’s contract, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Tuesday was the deadline to decide on an option bonus worth $1MM, but Pennel will instead hit the open market.
Pennel has been a staple of the Jets’ defense in recent years, appearing in every game 0ver the last two seasons. His Jets stint, which included ten starts, yielded an average of 31 tackles per season with zero sacks.
Pennel’s traditional stats d0 not jump off of the page, but the advanced metrics were very high on his work in 2018. Pennel was tied as the 14th best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, though his 358 snaps give him the lowest total of anyone in the top 40.
Pennel’s three-year, $12MM deal has been discontinued, but he should find a decent market for his services this offseason as a No. 3 DT.
Now for more from the Big Blue and Gang Green:
- The Jets hold the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019, and since they already have (they think) their franchise signal-caller, they could trade that pick to a QB-needy team for a bounty of draft capital. As Vacchiano suggests, the Giants are one team that could be giving the Jets a call.
- The Jets have 23 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, and Brian Costello of the New York Post offers his thoughts on some of the biggest names on that list and whether they will return next season. Costello believes 2018 revelation Henry Anderson will be retained, while the futures of Morris Claiborne and Jason Myers are a little more uncertain.
- Costello believes the Jets will tender RFA Robby Anderson at the second-round level, which is in keeping with what we have heard before.
- Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has a spotty free agent record, a poor draft record (outside of the first round), and has put together a potentially volatile coaching staff in 2019. With a ton of cap space and a young talent under center, the potential is there for Maccagnan to engineer a quick turnaround, but as Vacchiano writes, if the team does not show good progress in 2019, the blame will fall squarely on Maccagnan, and not new head coach Adam Gase.
- Speaking of the AFC East, two of the Patriots’ longtime rivals will be in position to make some major moves this offseason if they want to. The Bills “top the list of expected spenders with what should be close to $89 million to spend on free agents” this offseason, while the Jets are in second place “with about $88 million”, writes cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com. The Jets and general manager Mike Maccagnan haven’t been shy about their desire to make a splash in free agency, while Buffalo will likely be much more conservative. New York has been frequently mentioned as a potential landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, and it’ll be very interesting to see what they do with all that money.
- In case you missed it, former Jets offensive coordinator John Morton resurfaced with the Raiders yesterday.
- Already pushing $100MM in cap space, the Jets may move closer to triple digits soon. They plan to release Isaiah Crowell once they agree to terms with a veteran running back, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Such a release would clear $3MM off New York’s cap. The Jets have been the team most linked to preparing for a Le’Veon Bell run, and Mehta adds Tevin Coleman would be a nice consolation prize. While Crowell signed a three-year, $12MM deal, the Jets would only be on the hook for the remaining $2MM of his signing bonus.
Sam Darnold spoke with Adam Gase before the Jets ended up hiring him. The Jets‘ second-year quarterback said during an interview with SI.com he “interviewed” Gase prior to the team naming him as Todd Bowles‘ successor. Darnold and Gase share an agent, CAA’s Jimmy Sexton. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com wonders how much of a factor that was in the Jets going with Gase, positing that this connection should not be dismissed in tracing how the Jets arrived on Gase. CAA client Peyton Manning also called Jets CEO Christopher Johnson to endorse Gase, Cimini notes. Gase was Manning’s OC for two years in Denver. A previous report indicated Gase’s interview distinguished him from the other candidates. Gase and Darnold will now go about attempting to revive the Jets.
- Although Isaiah Crowell set the Jets’ single-game rushing record with a 219-yard performance against the Broncos in October, Cimini does not expect the team to keep the veteran running back around for 2019. Crowell tied his career-high yards-per-carry figure with 4.8 but only amassed 685 rushing yards last season. The Jets can save $3MM by releasing Crowell before March 15, when $2MM of his $4MM 2019 base salary becomes guaranteed. The Jets have been the team most linked to Le’Veon Bell, and the team now has $99MM-plus in cap space.
Adam Gase finalized his initial Jets coaching staff, and several new names will be added to the mix. In addition to the interesting setup reuniting ex-Saints staffers Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt, along with Blake Williams‘ arrival, the Jets announced five other new coaches will be joining their staff.
Longtime defensive end Andre Carter will come aboard as Gang Green’s defensive line coach. This will be Carter’s first chance at leading a position group. The 39-year-old former 13-year NFL veteran broke into coaching as the Dolphins’ assistant D-line instructor the past two seasons.
Gase hired John Dunn as tight ends coach. Dunn spent last season as the University of Connecticut’s assistant head coach. He’d previously worked with Jets OC Dowell Loggains in Chicago as an offensive assistant, his lone NFL experience to date.
Mentioned as another Miami-to-New York relocation candidate, Frank Bush will coach the Jets’ inside linebackers and carry an assistant HC title. Bo Hardegree will serve as an offensive assistant, and Eric Sanders will follow Gregg Williams from Cleveland to the Big Apple and work as a defensive assistant. The Browns jettisoned Sanders and the Williamses from their staff last month.
Gase will retain a few Todd Bowles-era coaches, most notably the special teams (Brant Boyer and Jeff Hammerschmidt) and defensive backs staffs (Dennard Wilson and Steve Jackson) will remain intact. Every other position group will have new leaders.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Speaking of organizational drama, the Jets have found themselves in a mini controversy of their own. It was reported a few days ago that there was already some tension between new head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, as the team objected to Williams bringing his son Blake Williams onboard as a coach. While the team eventually relented and added the younger Williams as a defensive assistant, the drama doesn’t end there. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com has a great breakdown of the situation unfolding, as Gase hired his own father-in-law Joe Vitt as an assistant coach as well. Vitt and Williams have a longstanding beef, as both were members of the Saints’ coaching staff during the infamous bountygate scandal. According to Cimini, Vitt testified against Williams during the league’s hearings on the scandal, and accused him of lying. They’ll now be serving on the same staff together again, and it’ll be very interesting to see if the bad blood has been put to rest.