NFL free agency is getting off to a wild and fast start. Just a full day before teams can officially begin signing players, already we have seen a number of big moves made around the league, and the two New York clubs are no exception.
The Giants decided to re-sign Jason Pierre Paul to a one year deal worth $10.5 million after losing out to Mario Williams, who signed with Miami, and Charles Johnson who decided to return to Carolina. This is a very odd move, considering that JPP was hamstrung by a decimated right hand that he blew up during the 4th of July last summer.
JPP was not an impact on the Giants at all last season. He had only one sack and 26 tackles all year. He was clearly bothered by the giant club that he wore on his right hand. He is said to have surgery on that hand to get him to grip better, but let's be honest JPP is not the same player he used to be, and never will be.
The Giants must believe that the defensive end market is too thin for them because going back to JPP makes little to no sense. In fact this is terrible signing by a Giants team that needs to improve one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Losing out on Johnson and Williams, two fierce pass rushers really does little to help GM Jerry Reese who is on the hot seat this season. Not often a GM could be in boiling hot water in March, but moves like this will turn up the heat a bit.
As for the salary cap battered Jets, they lost out on keeping running back Chris Ivory. Ivory signed a multi-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, giving the Jags a quality back to help a young offense in Northern Florida. Ivory, 28, had his best season last year with the Jets, rushing for 1,070 yards and seven touchdown.
Ivory resurrected his career in green and white, because he spent a big part of his early career as a third down back for the Saints. The Jets gave Ivory the chance to start every down when Rex Ryan and John Idzik were in town, and Ivory took off. (Kinda interesting to note that Idzik is now in Jacksonville as a special assistant to the GM; I'm sure he had some influence here).
While losing a top back is never a good thing, the Jets can live without Ivory, especially if they strike it big in the draft. Many expect the Jets to target Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with their first round pick in the draft. The Jets desperately need a feature back. Even when Ivory was here, you never felt he was going to be a every down and distance running back. Getting one in the draft is a must.
The Jets could bring back Bilal Powell, who is also a free agent this spring. Powell was a unique pass catching runner out of the backfield down the stretch last year, and he would be worth bringing back on a reasonable contract.
If they lose him too, it will get interesting.
Keep in mind the Jets already released Antonio Cromartie, and might lose Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency. The two players the Jets can ill afford to lose are on the defensive line in Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison. Harrison is expected to sign elsewhere, as the Jets target Wilkerson as a must keep. The Jets placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Wilkerson last week, meaning that he could sign with another team and force the Jets to match that offer. That team would also have to give up 2-first round picks to get him. If nobody signs Wilkerson, he will make $15 million this year in New York.
If Mike Maccagnan is indeed a genius, as some fans thought he was last off-season, he's got his work cut out for him this time around.