PHOENIX -- As Jets GM Mike Maccagnan sat in a conference room when he spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon, he wasn't standing under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished." He knows he still has work to do to turn the Jets into playoff contenders.
But this offseason, Maccagnan made it pretty clear that he did what he set out to do.
"Actually it was kind of an exciting offseason for us," Maccagnan said at the Arizona Biltmore hotel, site of the NFL owners meetings. "We obviously had a lot of cap space. We had a plan in place of what we sort of targeted. It actually worked out. I think we got a lot of the guys we were hoping to get."
It's hard to argue what Maccagnan accomplished in what he knew was a critical offseason in his rebuilding project. He landed running back Le'Veon Bell, the player he coveted most. He added a defensive leader in linebacker C.J. Mosley. He traded almost nothing to get all-pro guard Kelichi Osemele. And he added Jamison Crowder, the slot receiver new coach Adam Gase craved.
There were other moves too, but those were the four crown jewels. It would've been five, but outside linebacker Anthony Barr backed out of an agreement and ended up taking less money to return to Minnesota. Despite that, Maccagnan feels "good" about how his spending spree turned out.
"On paper we feel good about a lot of the things we've done," he said. "But we have a whole offseason ahead of us. We still have the draft. But we feel good about where we're moving. We've definitely made some progress in the right direction. I do feel good about it."
That's about as close as the careful Maccagnan may ever get to saying what Jets CEO Christopher Johnson did on Sunday night, when he said, "I sure as hell hope we're a playoff team," and vowed to wear the Lombardi Trophy around town on his head if (or when) the Jets finally win a Super Bowl. Maccagnan is too calculated to boast or raise expectations, especially since the Jets have accomplished almost nothing in his tenure.
But there's a quiet confidence about him this time as his plan finally seems to be coming together. He spent months envisioning how "impactful" Bell, a "very versatile back" could be in the Jets' offense. Crowder is a perfect fit for a coach that likes to feature the slot receiver. Mosley strengthens the linebacking corps and can be the kind of defensive leader new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can build around.
Maccagnan already found his franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. Now Darnold has a better line in front of him and more weapons around him, plus a defense filled with young, talented players should be improved too. It's hard for anyone to get excited knowing that the Jets are just 24-40 in Maccagnan's four-year tenure, including 14-34 over the last three seasons.
It's been a painful rebuilding process. But it sounds like Maccagnan finally feels like the end of the road is near.
"We feel good about some of the players we added," he said. "We felt there were some really good players that got out to free agency for various reasons. A lot of those guys we felt had been very successful in the league with all-pro or Pro Bowls and a lot of those guys are still young, in their prime, so we felt very good about adding a number of good players. We felt good about our offseason."
That's not a Joe Namath-like guarantee. That's not even a Christopher Johnson-like promise. But for Maccagnan, it's a sign he feels his mission really is almost accomplished, and that his plan has come together almost exactly as he hoped.