The New York Jets have as much franchise stability as a tumbleweed does in a dust storm. So when a player like Nick Mangold gets let go in the last weekend of February, it’s a big deal.
Mangold’s release truly is the end of an era that began in 2006, a fulfilling run that ended in what feels like a blink of an eye. In the span of not even one calendar year, both Mangold and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson are off the roster. Ferguson was given similar treatment, but opted to hang up the cleats completely after the Jets informed him he would be let go.
Like Ferguson, Mangold’s presence will be missed both on and off the field. Think of all he’s accomplished during his 11-year career with the Jets. He went to seven Pro Bowls and was regarded as arguably the best center in football at one point. He was an anchor on some of the franchise’s best teams (namely 2009-10) and one of the few bright spots during the team’s lowest seasons.
He missed only 12 games throughout his iconic career and was the true definition of an iron man until his final two seasons in New York revealed that even players as durable as Mangold can’t thrive forever.
Mangold was truly everything you could ask for in a pro. But the business side of the NFL unfortunately removes most, if not all sentimentality in these decisions.
Nobody should be angry at general manager Mike Maccagnan for making this decision. He’s merely doing his job. Mangold was set to make $9.075 million in 2017 and the Jets simply shouldn’t commit that kind of capital to a great, but regressing player who missed eight games this season. Unfortunately, losing football games as often as the Jets do puts everybody at risk at some point.
And if Maccagnan’s quote suggests anything, it’s that this wasn’t an easy decision even though the salary cap ramifications were as clear as day.
“Decisions of this magnitude are always difficult, but even more so with someone like Nick who has meant so much to this organization,” Maccagnan said in the team’s press release. “We appreciate not just his on-field contributions, but the imprint that his mentality and approach to the game leaves on this team.”
It’s uncertain whether Mangold will land elsewhere. He is 33 years old and it’s pretty obvious his best days are behind him. There’s a chance a contender takes a flier on him, hoping he can rekindle a season or two of steady play. But the possibility of Mangold fading into retirement shouldn’t be dismissed.
The only certainty is what this means for a franchise that has had so few pillars to boast of. Only David Harris and Tanner Purdum are still on the roster as mainstays from New York’s 2010 AFC Championship team (Darrelle Revis left the team before coming back later). Heck, Harris might even be a salary cap casualty this offseason.
Of all the things the Jets didn’t have, they could always say they never needed to worry about arguably the two most important positions along the offensive line for a decade, left tackle and center. Mangold will be incredibly hard to replace in virtually every facet.