Jets hire Texans executive Mike Maccagnan as general manager
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets have their new general manager. Next up: a new coach.
The Jets hired former Houston Texans executive Mike Maccagnan on Tuesday, replacing the fired John Idzik.
Maccagnan was Houston’s director of college scouting and the only GM candidate who received a second meeting with the Jets. Maccagnan first interviewed with owner Woody Johnson and consultants Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf last Monday before having another meeting Friday and staying in New Jersey over the weekend.
“We interviewed a number of impressive, qualified candidates, but Mike Maccagnan clearly stood out,” Johnson said in a statement. “Mike’s attention to detail, strong personnel background and collaborative approach to evaluating players made it clear that he is the right choice to be the next general manager of the New York Jets.”
The Jets are still searching for a coach to replace Rex Ryan, who was fired along with Idzik on Dec. 29 after a 4-12 season in which the Jets missed the postseason for the fourth straight year.
New York interviewed Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for a second time Tuesday — and Maccagnan was involved in the meeting. The Jets are also high on Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, but must wait until the Seahawks are eliminated from the playoffs or the bye week before the Super Bowl to interview him again.
“As with all teams, there are some areas we need to address,” Maccagnan said. “But we’re going to hire the right head coach, evaluate our personnel and work together to build a football operation to get the New York Jets back on the winning track.”
In terms of the team’s power structure, both Maccagnan and the new coach will report directly to Johnson. Maccagnan will have final say on the 53-man roster, while the coach will decide who plays.
Johnson chose to go in a new direction at both coach and general manager, despite Idzik only having the job for two years. In order to determine the most suitable candidates, the owner hired the services of Casserly and Wolf, both experienced and well-respected former NFL general managers.
The Jets interviewed seven candidates for the GM job, and Maccagnan’s strong background in personnel impressed Johnson. He has very little experience on the business end, in terms of salary cap issues and contracts, which was Idzik’s strength. But Maccagnan is known to have a terrific eye for talent.
“Mike Maccagnan is an outstanding football man, one who is highly organized, and an excellent evaluator,” Casserly said. “He is very thorough in his preparation and will do a terrific job for the Jets.”
Maccagnan has close ties to Casserly, which likely bolstered the new GM’s chances. He had been with the Texans since 2000, when Casserly — then Houston’s general manager — hired him and contributed to every draft since the team’s inception. Maccagnan also previously worked with Casserly in Washington, where he was a scout for the Redskins for six seasons.
He was promoted to director of college scouting for the Texans in 2011 after previously working as the team’s assistant director. He also has spent time in the scouting and player personnel departments of the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders and Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the World League’s London Monarchs, as well as the World League’s offices.
Maccagnan grew up in Hightstown, New Jersey, about an hour south of the Jets’ facility in Florham Park.
He beat out six other candidates, including Tampa Bay director of player personnel Jon Robinson, Miami director of college scouting Chris Grier, Philadelphia director of pro personnel Rick Mueller, Seattle director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner, Cleveland executive chief of staff Bill Kuharich and Jets senior director of football administration Rod Graves.
“In my line of work,” Maccagnan said, “having the chance to serve as a general manager is what you work toward your entire career.”
The first order of business for Maccagnan will be helping the team find a new coach.
Once that’s sorted out, Maccagnan will have a solid salary cap situation with the Jets, who enter the offseason about $40 million under the cap. He will have several key decisions to make in the next several months, including figuring out the quarterback position.
Geno Smith mostly struggled through his second season, and the Jets could opt to upgrade the position through free agency or the draft, in which they hold the No. 6 pick. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston are considered the top quarterbacks who could be available, but both could be gone before New York selects.
Maccagnan will also need to address the cornerback spot, which heavily contributed to the team’s struggles last season because of injuries and inconsistency. Star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is in line for a new contract after a solid fourth season, and Maccagnan must determine whether wide receiver Percy Harvin, a midseason acquisition, is worth a $10.5 million cap hit. Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson ($11.7 million) and center Nick Mangold ($10.4 million) will also be hefty cap hits.
“I have enjoyed getting to know Mr. Johnson during the interview process and am grateful to him for this opportunity,” Maccagnan said. “We have a solid foundation of players and a state-of-the-art facility in one of the most exciting and dynamic areas in America.”
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