Giants, Jets Load Up In Free Agency, Hope for Playoff Appearance in 2016 After Continuing Postseason Droughts

By EVAN GRAZIANO
On March 30, 2016

Photo courtesy of New Jersey National Guard

The new league year for the NFL began on March 9, just over a month after the Super Bowl was played. The transition into a new year came with the start of the free agency, the first foray into a months-long down period for the league known as the NFL offseason.  

The offseason has become a source of constant media coverage and often draws just as much interest as the regular season.  From free agency, to the NFL Draft, to mini-camps and training camps, fans and the media are ravenous for indications that their team is improving and on the ascent.The improvement they see and feel now will become a reality once the regular season starts in September.  

Local favorites - the New York Giants and Jets - both experienced less than successful campaigns last season, both finishing outside the playoff picture for their respective divisions.  After several less than impressive seasons – the Giants have not made the playoffs since winning Super Bowl XLVI, while the Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, despite a 10-6 record - and increasing pressure from fan bases and ownership, the Jets and Giants have turned to the free agency in historic fashion to address the roster deficiencies that have plagued each team for years.  

The Giants, long known for their conservative tendencies in free agency and offseason acquisitions, showed a departure from traditional thinking, and possibly some desperation, when they dished out $204 million to free agent signees Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and a re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul. That money, spent within the first 48 hours of free agency, is more than they spent in the past four offseasons combined and shows that ownership realizes the closing window for a championship caliber-team.  

The Giants allowed the most yards in team history last year and often could not get offenses off the field when they needed to.  It remains to be seen whether these signings will be successful and will provide evidence for whether or not free agent splurges can amount to success on the field. 

The Jets lost defensive standouts DeMario Davis and Damon Harrison to free agency, as well as leading rusher Chris Ivory, but they subsequently addressed these departures by bringing in an aging Matt Forte and re-signing Bilal Powell.  

The team still lacks a runner that can be leaned on week in and week out and may address this position in the draft.  They also signed Steve McLendon from Pittsburgh to try to fill the hole left by Harrison’s departure, and re-signed Erin Henderson, who was one of the most productive linebackers in the league during his time in Minnesota.  

These signings do not equate to quality, starting-caliber players, but they will be used as depth during the season.  The most pressing issue for the Jets is their quarterback situation, with last season’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick currently an unrestricted free agent. Fitzpatrick has been waiting on a hefty contract from the Jets which will most likely never materialize.

If Fitzpatrick is signed, regardless of the amount, the Jets will field a quarterback that has already led them to a 10-6 record, with a proven pass catcher out of the backfield and a pair of Pro Bowl receivers to throw to.  

The main difference between these two New York teams is that the Giants have a win-ready quarterback, Eli Manning, who needs a revamped roster, whereas the Jets feature a formidable roster, overflowing with talent. They just need a competent quarterback to compete.

egrazia1@ramapo.edu

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