An eventful evening for the Jets kicked off just after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, when agent Mike McCartney announced on Twitter that quarterback Josh McCown, his client, had agreed to a one-year deal to return to Gang Green next season.
The contract will pay McCown $ 10 million in 2018, according to a source, and the soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback is expected to enter training camp as the starter under center.
Over the next five hours, general manager Mike Maccagnan got to work and started rounding out his roster with the Jets’ league-high $ 90 million in cap space. First, the Jets agreed to terms with 25-year-old running back Isaiah Crowell on a three-year deal, according to a source. Next, they landed a No. 1 cornerback in former Ram Trumaine Johnson, who Gang Green will sign to a multi-year deal worth about $ 15 million per season, according to a source. After that, Teddy Bridgewater finalized his plans to sign a one-year contract with the Jets. And finally, just before 9:30 p.m, the Jets agreed to terms with former Titans inside linebacker Avery Williamson, per a source.
All five contracts won’t become official until free agency begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. The NFL’s legal tampering window started noon Monday and stretches until the start of free agency.
Cornerback and running back were two of the Jets’ biggest needs entering this crucial offseason, and they addressed both sufficiently with Crowell and Johnson. The Jets will still likely add another cornerback — perhaps re-signing Morris Claiborne, who voiced his desire to return to New York at season’s end.
Crowell, meanwhile, joins Bilal Powell and 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire in the Jets’ backfield, which lost Matt Forte to retirement earlier this month. Williamson, entering his fifth year out of Kentucky, will presumably start alongside Darron Lee at inside linebacker. The agreement means Demario Davis, the Jets’ defensive signal-caller in 2017, will likely not return to New York in 2018.
Johnson, who turned 28 in January, is the splashiest acquisition of the three non-quarterbacks. He spent his first six NFL seasons with the Rams after being drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft, emerging as an above-average corner over the last three seasons while hauling in 11 picks. Johnson was the 68th-ranked cornerback in the league in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus, but was matched up with opposing No. 1 wide receivers on a game-by-game basis. So take that number with a grain of salt.
The 6-2, 213-pound Johnson had 14 pass deflections and two interceptions last season. He became expendable after Los Angeles traded for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
Johnson has ties to the Jets coaching staff. Dennard Wilson, who took over as Jets secondary coach last season, spent five years with Johnson while with the Rams. Wilson served as the Rams’ defensive backs coach in 2015 and 2016.
Safety Jamal Adams celebrated the news on Twitter. “Let’s goooooooo!!! #NEWJACKCITY,” the 2017 first-round pick wrote on the social media platform. He added in another tweet: “Jets Nation welcome @Trujohnson2 to the fammm!!!!”
Crowell joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He rushed for 853 yards and two touchdowns on 206 carries last season for the Browns. The Alabama State product also caught 28 passes for 182 yards. Crowell is averaging 4.2 yards per carry in his career.
With Manish Mehta
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