Mighty Mike Maccagnan struck again! The Jets decision to let Chris Ivory walk and sign Matt Forte to a contract was another very good move by the 2015 NFL executive of Year winner. Let’s first give credit to Ivory for having three solid seasons with the Jets. The biggest compliment I can give to Ivory is that he never quit. Ivory ran hard on every single snap. When the Jets were 4-12 during the 2014 season, Ivory, was one of the only players on the offense that the Jet fan could be proud of. Ivory was a really nice player for the Jets and was one of the only good moves John Idzik made during his two seasons at the GM. The Jets traded a 4th round pick for Ivory during the 2013 NFL Draft and got three solid seasons from him, while only having to pay him a total of 10 million dollars. By letting Ivory go, the Jets are going to get the same pick they gave up in 2013 back next year as a compensatory pick. That is a perfect example of taking advantage of someone’ value.
Ivory’s biggest strength was his ability to run hard on every play. Opposing defenses would ware down over the course of a game because of Ivory’s bruising run style. However, breaking down was a problem for Ivory too. Throughout his three seasons with the Jets, Ivory’s production would always get worse as the season went on. Ivory, would also have nagging injuries such as hamstring problems that would slow down his production after fast starts to the season. Ivory by Week 17 last season was a non factor. In the season finale against the Bills, a healthy Chris Ivory only carried the ball SIX TIMES in a 22-17 heart breaking loss that is still fresh in every Jets fans mind. Unlike last year, the Jets are up against the salary cap and Maccagnan has to get creative with ways to improve the roster while not being able to spend a lot of money. Paying Chris Ivory more than 6 million dollars a season like the Jaguars offered just would not be possible for the Jets to do.
Bringing in Matt Forte is a great response by Jets. The first thing to look at with this move is the financials of the deal. According to Ed Werder of ESPN, the Jets signed Forte for 2 million dollars less than what Ivory is getting per year from the Jaguars. Obviously, signing any running back that is 30 or over can be alarming but Matt Forte still proved to be a very productive player last season and can be a steal in Chan Gailey’s offense if he stays healthy. The big thing when looking at running back’s is injury history and Forte does not have a serious injury history as he’s only missed eight games in eight seasons. However, three of them did come last year. Last season, Forte had 1,287 total yards of offense - ironically the exact same amount that Chris Ivory had last season. Ivory, who is three years younger, got more carries and played in two more games but still had the same amount of offensive production as Forte. What I really like about Forte is his versatility as a runner and as a pass catcher. Last season the Jets loved to run different slip screens and check downs to their backs and Forte is perfect for that role. In 2014, Forte set an NFL record with 102 receptions out of the backfield and if the Jets can manage to resign Bilal Powell, were talking about a potentially explosive multi-purpose backfield. While the big story of free agency surrounding the Jets is all about Ryan Fitzpatrick and what the Jets will do at the quarterback position, I really like how the Jets handled losing Chris Ivory.