Mike Maccagan is long gone. But one of his last decisions before being shown the door by the Jets is now haunting them.
Maccagnan, the former general manager, chose not to give a lucrative long-term deal to unrestricted free agent kicker Jason Myers in March, and he eventually signed with Seattle for four years and a guaranteed $5.5 million, per overthecap.com. But at the time, it appeared that Maccagnan had come up with a solid alternative by signing veteran Chandler Catanzaro, who had been fairly reliable for New York in 2017.
However, Catanzaro struggled in practice this summer and didn’t look much better when the lights literally were on in Thursday’s preseason opener versus the New York Giants, missing two of three PAT attempts, albeit one of which was pushed back 5 yards because of a delay of game penalty. Amidst speculation that the Jets might move on from the embattled placekicker, Catanzaro decided to move on himself. The Jets announced Sunday that the 28-year old Catanzaro had retired.
To fill his roster spot, the Jets signed kicker Taylor Bertolet, who spent time with the Jets in training camp last year.
Catanzaro said in a lengthy Instagram post Sunday, “After five years in the league, it’s time to move on. … It’s time for the next chapter in my life.”
Although the Jets also quickly turned the page, it won’t be surprising if a lot more remains to be written regarding their kicking situation.
Bertolet, who lost out to Myers last year in camp, has never kicked in a regular-season NFL game.
Nor has Kaare Vedvik, but that didn’t prevent Minnesota from sending Baltimore a fifth-round draft pick in exchange for him Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Vedvik has been impressive in camp and preseason games for the Ravens since the summer of 2018.
So with that option off the table, what should be the Jets’ play if Bertolet isn’t the answer? Well, Matt Bryant is still out there. Yes, Bryant is 44 years old, but he was 20-for-21 on field-goal attempts last season before his contract was not renewed by Atlanta after the 2018 season.
And unlike Catanzaro, Bryant has not announced his retirement.
Another option, perhaps an out-of-the-box one, would be to give Cody Parkey a call.
Yes, his exit from Chicago was messy, after a monumental miss that resulted in a playoff loss to Philadelphia, and a subsequent falling-out with coach Matt Nagy. But Parkey went 21-for-23 on field goals with Miami in 2017, so Gase is familiar with him. It wouldn’t hurt to at least give him a tryout.
As for the economics of Catanzaro’s departure, the Jets will not be on the hook for his base salary of $1.8 million, and they will be able to recoup his $500,000 signing bonus because he retired.
Plenty of personnel news came out of Jets’ camp on Sunday, some of it good, but more of it bad.
The good was that free safety Marcus Maye was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list. The Jets still are taking it slowly with the third-year player, who has a nerve problem in his shoulder. But the needle seems to be pointing up on his chances of being ready for the season opener against visiting Buffalo on Sept. 8.
On the negative side, starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson left Sunday’s practice with a hamstring injury and didn’t practice Monday. Nor did starting right guard Brian Winters, who exited the game against the Giants because of a shoulder problem.
Granted, Johnson underachieved mightily in an ineffective and injury-plagued 2018 season for him, but the Jets are hoping for a bounceback year now that he has been reunited with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Johnson, who still is due $24 million in guaranteed money from New York, played well for Williams with the Rams. But it appears he could be out for awhile, and the Jets have very little depth at corner. In fact, they cut two cornerbacks this past week, and general manager Joe Douglas likely is going to have to do something at some point, perhaps a trade.
“This is a great opportunity for a lot of guys,” coach Adam Gase said Monday about the reserve cornerbacks. “Somebody has a chance to step up and make a name for themselves.”
Gase would not commit to Johnson definitely being ready for Week 1. Worse yet, cornerback Kyron Brown, who has been climbing up the depth chart, also tweaked a hamstring Monday, although it is unclear how severe the injury is.
As for Winters’ absence, the Jets have a little more depth in that unit. Veteran Tom Compton played right guard with the first team Sunday, and the Jets also have Alex Lewis, who was acquired in a trade with Baltimore last week. Gase said Sunday that Winters is “week to week,” so his status for the opener could be in doubt.