There were rumblings during the 2019 NFL Draft that then-Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and first-year coach Adam Gase weren’t on the same page. It started with former NFL executive Mike Lombardi, writing in The Athletic, who suggested that Maccagnan’s job may not be safe.
“I hear that all is not well in New York Jets land about their scouting operation,” Lombardi wrote. “General Manager Mike Maccagnan is on the hot seat internally, and many in the league expect changes in the Jets’ front office after the draft. Stay tuned.”
A short time later — not long after the Jets selected defensive lineman Quinnen Williams with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft — Maccagnan was asked about a possible rift with Gase, whom he played a role in hiring.
“Actually, I think Adam [Gase] and I have worked very well together,” Maccagnan said on April 26. “I’m sure, like in any process, there are times where … you know, you work through the process. It’s just like in a scouting meeting. You might have different opinions on a player. But, from my standpoint, I’ve actually had a very good working relationship with Adam. Quite frankly, as I’ve said before, he has a very good sense of humor. He makes me laugh quite a bit, which is one of the reasons why I like working with him.”
On Wednesday, the Jets fired Maccagnan. The team went 10-5 in 2015, Maccagnan’s first season, but never won more than five games in the three seasons since. Clearly, losing played a role in chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson’s decision but the Daily News‘ Manish Mehta points to a specific instance that likely didn’t help Maccagnan’s cause:
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport added some context:
Maccagnan signed Bell in March to a four-year, $52.5 million deal with $27 million guaranteed. In terms of average annual salary, that makes the 27-year-old the NFL’s second-highest paid running back behind Todd Gurley.
In related news: Gurley disappeared during the playoffs and the Rams drafted Darrell Henderson in Round 3, presumably to share the workload. The point: running backs are fungible and, in general, it makes little sense to sign them to lucrative long-term deals. If Gase was indeed troubled by the signing this is likely why.
Meanwhile, any awkward moments between Bell and Gase will have to wait a few weeks because the running back didn’t show for voluntary workouts.
“It’s voluntary,” Gase said recently. “Everybody can get upset about it. There’s no point. We know where he is. He’s working out. He’s always been ready.”
The expectation is that Bell will be with the team for minicamp, which runs June 4-6. But questions remain about whether he’ll return to the form that made him one of the league’s best players a few seasons ago. He skipped the 2018 season after he and the Steelers couldn’t come to terms on a long-term deal. In ’17, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and added 655 receiving yards. But in his absence last season, second-year back James Conner outperformed Bell at a fraction of the cost; Conner averaged 4.5 yards per carry (to Bell’s 4.0 in ’17) and 9.0 yards per reception (to Bell’s 7.7). He also scored 13 touchdowns (to Bell’s 11).
For now, Gase is the acting general manager though CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora thinks Eagles executive Joe Douglas “would be high on the list of possible replacements” for Maccagnan.