In a stunning move, the New York Jets fired general manager Mike Maccagnan on Wednesday. Coach Adam Gase will be the interim general manager while an immediate search begins for a replacement, CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement.
The Jets also fired vice president of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington.
Just months after NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock took the Oakland Raiders‘ GM job, his replacement Daniel Jeremiah is under serious consideration for a prominent front-office position with the Jets, sources told Schefter.
Philadelphia Eagles executive Joe Douglas, who has ties to Gase and is a close friend of Jeremiah, could be a leading candidate for the GM job.
“Mike helped to execute the strategic vision of the organization during the last four seasons and especially the past few months,” Johnson said in the statement. “However, I came to the decision to make a change after much thought and a careful assessment of what would be in the best long-term interests of the New York Jets.”
The shake-up comes amid reports of internal discord in the organization. ESPN reported during the draft that friction had developed between Maccagnan and Gase because of disagreements over personnel during free agency.
Both men denied that a rift had developed in their relationship, but sources said Johnson was so concerned that he began spending more time at the Jets’ facility to monitor the Gase-Maccagnan relationship.
Sources said part of the tension between Gase and Maccagnan involved running back Le’Veon Bell and the amount of money it cost to sign him as a free agent. Bell was signed to a four-year, $52.5 million contract that included $27 million guaranteed. The average-per-year ($13.1 million) ranks second among running backs, and Gase felt it was too much, sources said.
Gase, however, has spoken highly of Bell, saying “it’s hard to find guys who are that size with his ability. He’s a rare player.”
The Jets went 10-6 in their first season under Maccagnan and former coach Todd Bowles in 2015, but the team has struggled through three consecutive losing seasons since. Bowles was fired after posting a 4-12 record last season.
Maccagnan had significant input into the hiring of Gase. That’s why the timing of Wednesday’s move is shocking.
Johnson empowered Maccagnan to spend more than $125 million in guaranteed money in free agency, then let him use the No. 3 pick in the draft on defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
The Jets are one of eight teams to draft multiple Pro Bowlers in the first round since 2015 (Adams and Williams), but they also missed on second-round picks Christian Hackenberg (2016) and Devin Smith (2015) under Maccagnan.
Before joining the Jets, Maccagnan spent 14 seasons with the Houston Texans.