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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

New York Jets' Brandon Marshall Trade: New GM, Same Old Mistakes

The New York Jets do not learn from past mistakes. The general manager’s name may change – Mike Tannenbaum (2006-2012), John Idzik (2013-2014), Mike Maccagnan (2015) – but the flawed decision-making remains the same.

After just two months on the job, Maccagnan acquired “BIG NAME!” wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. New York also received a seventh-round draft pick and sent a fifth-round draft pick in return. Unfortunately, Marshall also came with a big contract and little production.

In May 2014, Marshall signed a three-year, $30 million contract extension with Chicago, with nearly $23 million guaranteed. The extension didn’t kick in until after the 2014 season. He was coming off a monster 2013 campaign, in which he played in all 16 games, and caught 100 passes for 1,295 yards and a career high 12 touchdowns.

But during the 2014 season, the 30 year-old Marshall’s health deteriorated and his production plummeted. He played in only 13 games, and caught 61 passes for 721 yards and 8 touchdowns.  He finished the season on the IR with two broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  That shiny new contract extension became a burden for Chicago before it even started.

So, what do you do when you want to trade a “BIG NAME!” wide receiver with a bloated contract?  You call the Jets, of course!  Not only will they take that big contract off your hands, they will swap their fifth-round draft pick for your seventh-round draft pick just for the trouble!

Chicago knew New York would be interested, because New York’s recent history is littered with giving away draft picks for expensive, big name wide receivers. They only had to look back to October of last year to see New York make the same mistake.

Coming off a 1-6 start to the 2014 season, Idzik acquired “BIG NAME!” wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks.  New York sent a conditional sixth-round draft pick in return, which would turn into a fourth-round draft pick if Harvin was on New York’s roster by March 19, 2015.  Unfortunately, Harvin also came with a big contract and little production.

Harvin was signed through the 2018 season for $48.6 million. $7.1 million of that was guaranteed in the form of his remaining 2014 base salary.  Harvin’s contract became a burden for Seattle almost immediately after he signed it in March 2013.  Harvin played in only one regular season game in 2013, collecting 1 catch for 17 yards. And in five games for Seattle in 2014, he averaged only 26.6 receiving yards and 8.4 rushing yards, per game.

So, what team would even think about not only assuming the rest of Harvin’s contract, but also giving up a draft pick to do so?  The Jets, of course!  Any of this sounding familiar yet? 

After paying Harvin $7.1 million in 2014 to play out the remainder of an already lost season, New York promptly cut Harvin before the March 19th deadline. They finally figured out that, surprise, Harvin was not worth his contract.

Seattle knew New York would be interested. They only had to look back to 2010 to see New York make the same mistake, with yet another “BIG NAME!” wide receiver.

In April 2010, Tannenbaum acquired Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and sent a fifth-round draft pick in return.  Holmes was coming off a breakout season, in which he played in all 16 games, and caught 79 passes for 1,248 yards and 5 touchdowns.  He also had only one-year, $1.4 million remaining on his contract. Did New York actually get this one right?

Of course not! Holmes violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and was already suspended four games for the upcoming 2010 season.  He also had a plethora of off-the-field problems, which reached such a tipping point that Pittsburgh was ready to cut the 26 year-old, Super Bowl XLIII MVP, if they couldn’t find a trade partner.  But at least he had a very small contract, right?

In 2010, Holmes played in 12 games for New York, catching 52 passes for 746 yards and 6 touchdowns. Considering his small salary cap number, New York actually received good value that year.  But they couldn’t leave well enough alone. 

In July 2011, New York signed Holmes to a five-year, $45 million contract, with 23.5 million guaranteed.  Inevitably, the contract became an instant disaster, and New York eventually cut Holmes in March 2014, after three unproductive seasons. 

When New York eventually figures out Marshall’s contract makes him a burden too, it will be unfortunate they don’t have the luxury that other teams have … of being able to call themselves!


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