General Manager Also Says Book On Hackenberg Is 'Not Closed'

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — With more than $80 million to spend, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said Tuesday he expects to be busy this offseason.

“I think we’ll be very active in free agency, but again we haven’t set our final decisions on allocating our resources,” Maccagnan told reporters at his end-of-the-season news conference. “I do think we have a lot of potential to improve this team going forward and focus on players we can acquire from a talent standpoint that kind of fit in what we want to do both from an ability and a character standpoint.”

According to Spotrac.com, the Jets are $84.3 million under the salary cap for 2018 — only the San Francisco 49ers ($118 million) and Cleveland Browns ($112.7 million) have more money to spend. Maccagnan could free up another $11 million if the Jets part ways with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.

New York has 16 players hitting unrestricted free agency, including quarterback Josh McCown, linebacker Demario Davis, center Wesley Johnson and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The free agent negotiating period begins March 12.

Mike Maccagnan

Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Maccagnan, who, along with coach Todd Bowles, had his contract extended through 2020 last week, said he wouldn’t rule out that McCown, 38, will return to the Jets next season.

McCown enjoyed a career year before suffering a season-ending broken hand against Denver in Week 14. He completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,926 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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“I still think there’s good football left in Josh,” Maccagnan said. ” … Based on what Josh has done, I would have no problem bringing him back, but, of course, that’s another thing that’s going to play itself out here over time. … Everything from our standpoint has been extremely positive with Josh.”

Meanwhile, the Jets’ general manager said he has not given up on quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The 2016 second-round draft pick has yet to play in a game despite the Jets finishing the past two seasons out of playoff contention.

“The book on Christian is not closed,” Maccagnan said. “He’s only 22 years old. He’s made progress. He’s made development. This is going to be a good offseason for him.”

Despite shedding a lot of big names and hefty contracts before the season, the Jets exceeded expectations by winning five games and hanging tough in many of their losses.

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Maccagnan said he believes the franchise made progress, although he would have liked to see more W’s.

“We tried to build a team to be competitive, and we were competitive in a lot of those games,” he said.

“One of the things I did like was the chemistry of the locker room. I thought the players competed hard and rallied together.”

Acting owner Christopher Johnson told reporters Tuesday he, too, saw progress, which led him to extend Maccagnan and Bowles.

“I like the idea of some stability and going from year to year doesn’t seem right,” Johnson said.

“Believe me, I want to get to the playoffs. I want to build a team with Mike and Todd that can compete for the playoffs every year.

“There’s so much to look forward to with this team and this core we have,” Johnson continued. “And we have a chance to build on that. We have some great draft picks and a lot of money to play with. And we’re going to be active in free agency.”

Johnson, however, added there is no playoff mandate for Maccagnan and Bowles in 2018.