New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas unapologetically makes it clear in free agency: it’s about value and the NFL Draft.
You show me a big free-agent spender and I’ll show you a disappointing team the following regular season. The sentiment rarely fails.
You’d think, by now, New York Jets fans would have figured it out. Forget Jets fans; how about the fan of any NFL team? The more your favorite NFL team spends in free agency, the worse off that team is in terms of current salary cap situation and in-house talent.
The Jets, obviously, are in a bad place. They’ve had an abundance of cap space available for the better part of the last five or six offseasons. Why? Well, it’s simple: the organization’s draftees haven’t panned out. Prior general managers haven’t drafted well. Those draftees didn’t make it to the next contract, allowing for no talent to lock up long-term.
Joe Douglas, a man who fully understands the landscape under this rigorous hard salary cap, is clearly not a fan. He won’t be pushed into anything he doesn’t want, which is tremendous news for Jets fans. (Not only will he stand his ground, but Christopher Johnson doesn’t meddle, a truth that needs to be spread among the fanbase.)
The first day of the legal-tampering period turned the pressure up on the man the kids call G.M. Joe. Jack Conklin? Joe Thuney? Graham Glasgow? No. Only spot-starter George Fant agreed to come to Florham Park and play on one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. With Sam Darnold entering a critical, possible make-or-break season, the dire need for talent upfront remained obvious, yet Douglas held true to his belief system.
It’s about value and the NFL Draft.
Never are Super Bowl teams built through free agency. Never.
From 2012 through 2018, the top-five free agency spenders have yielded just 40 more victories the following season. Forty. That’s all. That’s 40 more wins over the course of 35 total seasons, averaging an increase of 1.2 wins for the top-five spenders the following season.
From 2012-18, here's how the teams that ranked top-5 in free agency spending each year fared the following season:
Avg prior record: 6.5 – 9.5
Avg record after top-5 spending spree: 7.7 – 8.3
Average increase of 1.2 wins.
Just 1/35 made the SB.
Relax. 'Chips aren't won here.
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) March 17, 2020
(Oh yeah, and 2019 doesn’t help the free-agent spenders get over the hump.)
Anybody with a clue understands this truth, yet fans (and even media pundits) go bananas anytime a big player signs elsewhere. By now, the law of averages would suggest a greater percentage would have learned by now.
They haven’t, leading to one panic tweet after another. Take a gander at Jets Reddit, but don’t do so without realizing the hilarity of it all. Among SpongeBob memes will be too-green-for-their-own-good fans who screamed for Douglas’s head Monday night.