From the outside looking in, the Jets are a mess. Maybe reality doesn't match perception but in the wake of the dismissal of general manager Mike Maccagnan on Wednesday -- and the subsequent report that new coach Adam Gase and Maccagnan didn't see eye to eye on signing Le'Veon Bell -- it certainly appears as if the organization is going in the wrong direction.
At the time of Maccagnan's hire in Jan. 2015, the Jets interviewed at least six other candidates for the job, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini: Rod Graves, Chris Grier, Trent Kirchner, Bill Kuharich, Rick Mueller and Jon Robinson -- and the organization was turned down by four others -- Chris Ballard, Eric DeCosta, George Paton and Ryan Pace. Ballard, DeCosta and Pace are all now general managers (for the Colts, Ravens and Bears), and Paton is an assistant GM with the Vikings.
Now Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson has a vision for what Maccagnan's successor should look like:
"I want to find a better fit for this building," he said this week, via NorthJersey.com. "I want to find somebody who — just looking forward, not talking about Mike, here — I want a great strategic thinker. It's more than just a talent evaluation guy. I want a great strategic thinker, a great manager, a communicator. Someone who can collaborate well with the building."
And that brings us to this report from Pro Football Talk: The Jets could be in the Peyton Manning business.
Rumors are flying within league circles that the Jets may make a run at the future Hall of Fame quarterback who has periodically been linked to NFL management possibilities. And Gase, who worked with Manning in Denver, possibly would be one of the few guys who could draw Manning back into football.
Manning, who retired in 2015, has been linked to front-office jobs in the past. In Nov. 2017, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam had strong interest in having Manning join the organization "in a prominent team president/top executive role." And last December, before the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens as coach, there were reports that Gase was in the running for the job. The Haslam-Gase-Manning game of connect-the-dots continued:
He who laughs last laughs loudest, or so I’ve heard. Peyton Manning, friend of Jimmy Haslam, is a big fan of Adam Gase. So watch this one. https://t.co/m1UZKFwCYP— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 31, 2018
Manning, of course, has no front-office experience. In 2017, the 49ers hired John Lynch, who also had no prior experience, and the results have been mixed. The team has gone 6-10 and 4-12 but lost two of its best players to ACL injuries in '18: Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon. Lynch had a strong draft class a year ago and this year's class -- which features Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel -- could be good too. Which is to say that maybe the traditional route to NFL upper management isn't a requirement. Manning would in theory have the tools to be a successful GM, as our Pete Prisco notes:
Peyton Manning would be an awesome GM — he knew every player in the league in detail in terms of scouting when he played. Jets would be lucky if they landed him— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 18, 2019
The Maccagnan hire hasn't worked out despite being as traditional as they come. Here's what Jets owner Woody Johnson said in Jan. 2015 when he hired him.
"We interviewed a number of impressive, qualified candidates, but Mike Maccagnan clearly stood out," Johnson said at the time. "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."
Four years later and the Jets are back to square one.