Unrestricted free agency is just about over, and it appears the New York Jets will be crowned champions.
The champions of spending, that is.
The Jets have doled out a league-high $179.3 million in total contracts for unrestricted free agents, according to ESPN's John Clayton, who has an interesting piece on the free agency trends that developed in 2015. Trailing the Jets are the Jacksonville Jaguars ($174.5 million), Miami Dolphins ($137.2 million), Philadelphia Eagles ($121.2 million) and Oakland Raiders ($110.8 million).
(On a side note, isn't it interesting that the Jaguars, Dolphins and Raiders have former Jets executives working in their front office? We're talking about John Idzik, Mike Tannenbaum and Joey Clinkscales, respectively. Idzik, though, is only a salary-cap consultant. Just saying.)
These contract numbers are misleading because, as we all know, the money isn't fully guaranteed. In fact, the Jets' total for guaranteed money is $67.9 million -- still a rather large chunk of change.
No team wants to be crowned the champions of spending because, more often than not, it means there were many holes in the roster, probably due to poor drafting. Such was the case with the Jets. They also were mandated to spend a lot to stay in compliance with the league's minimum-spending rules. So, believe it or not, the fiscally conservative Idzik would've been required to cut some big checks if he had remained on the job. Mike Maccagnan walked into a dream situation -- except for an unsettled quarterback situation.
Spending doesn't equate to winning, however. Six of the 12 teams that ranked in the top three in free-agent spending from 2011 to 2014 failed to improve their win total, including all three of last year’s top-3 spending teams -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($147.3 million), Denver Broncos ($127.6 million) and New York Giants ($110.6 million), per ESPN Stats & Information. Those three teams saw their win total decline. How 'bout the champs? The New England Patriots finished 16th in free-agent spending. The more the game changes, the more it stays the same. Success still hinges on drafting and developing talent.
As Clayton notes, unrestricted free agency ends Monday.
The signing period once ran through June 1, but it was shortened to May 12 to help players find jobs before organized team activities and minicamps. Starting Tuesday, signings no longer count toward the computation of compensatory picks. The remaining 138 unrestricted free agents will become "street" free agents, and they don't factor into the compensatory formula -- so look for a bunch of signings Tuesday. For instance, don't be surprised if former Jets safety Dawan Landry signs with the Buffalo Bills and reunites with coach Rex Ryan.