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Mike Maccagnan was announced at the Jets general manager in January 2015, after he beat out a handful of candidates, including current Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier. After the disastrous outcome of using a search firm to find their previous general manager (John Idzik), the Jets' decision to hire Maccagnan came largely from the recommendation of the experienced pairing of Charlie Casserly and Ron Wolf.
Early results for Maccagnan were good. Having been hired alongside Todd Bowles, Maccagnan made a couple of splashes and some shrewd moves, putting the team in position to make the postseason until they choked the opportunity away in the season finale in Buffalo.
The biggest splash Maccagnan made was controversially re-signing cornerback Darrelle Revis to a big-money deal, but he also traded for Brandon Marshall, who had a record setting season, and added Ryan Fitzpatrick, who also had a career year after taking the job due to Geno Smith's misfortune in camp.
Heading into 2016, the Jets knew they needed some reinforcements through the draft, as some of their key players were nearing the end of their career, but they used their top two picks on linebacker Darron Lee and quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Lee was disappointingly inconsistent over his first few years and Hackenberg, who had been considered overrated by much of the scouting community, struggled so badly that he was out of the league before he ever even got into a game.
These weren't the only moves that backfired though. Maccagnan gambled on a long-term extension for Muhammad Wilkerson, who was coming off an impressive 12-sack season, but also was in the middle of rehabbing a broken leg. Whether it was due to the injury or Wilkerson's laziness, he was no longer able to make the same kind of impact and was gone after the 2017 season.
On the field, some of the short-term moves that had sparked the team in 2015 didn't look so hot in 2016. Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson feuded with Marshall all year, fracturing the locker room. Fitzpatrick had a drawn-out holdout that ate into his offseason preparation and he predictably failed to repeat his 2015 success after convincing the Jets to give him $12 million. An attempt to emulate the Marshall trade also flopped as Matt Forte had a pedestrian season.
After ending the 2016 season with just five wins, the following season brought optimism as young players like Jamal Adams and Robby Anderson started to emerge. However, after a decent start, the Jets floundered down the stretch and ended up with just five wins again.
The 2018 season saw the Jets win one less game than that, although it was regarded by many as a rebuilding year as rookie Sam Darnold took over the reins at quarterback. However, Maccagnan's biggest move didn't work out as planned because veteran cornerback Trumaine Johnson was benched down the stretch for missing meetings despite having signed a big-money deal. In addition, Lee - one of Maccagnan's first round picks - ruined a promising season by getting suspended in December.
Maccagnan has otherwise had good success with his first-round picks with Leonard Williams and Adams each going to a pro bowl. Optimism is extremely high for Darnold and Quinnen Williams as well. His detractors would suggest that each of these players fell into his lap though - and he's not had as much success with his picks on days two and three.
While the win totals were poor over the past few seasons, Bowles was regarded as at least partly to blame, while Maccagnan has had bad luck with key players either getting injured or undermining their performances due to insubordination. His personnel decisions were a mixed bag at best, though.
Today's shocking announcement that Maccagnan has been relieved of his duties seems to mostly have been sparked by issues with his working relationship with head coach Adam Gase. However, there are plenty of reasons why his employment status would be on shaky ground.
Maccagnan's legacy will depend greatly on how the Jets fare over the next few seasons. Even if Gase and the new general manager are successful, some will say that they won with the team Maccagnan put together. However, we could see a change in direction and approach with the new regime.
When I spoke to Maccagnan in London during his first season in the role, he told me he "just wanted to win football games," but that he was well aware of how difficult that is to achieve at the NFL level. He was right about that, but he wasn't right often enough as a decision maker.
On top of that, he apparently didn't win enough games after his first year to retain his job in this kind of situation.