PHOENIX — Christopher Johnson poured more than $100 million in guaranteed money into several high-profile player acquisitions this month, and the Jets’ chairman and CEO believes the investment will be well worth it.
“These are impact players,” Johnson said of running back Le’Veon Bell, linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and guard Kelechi Osemele. “These are kind of like a wish list. In fact, it is a wish list. We put together the list prior to free agency, and we got a number of the people we were hoping for. I’m really excited. I think this team is better than it was a month ago.”
Good enough to be a playoff contender in 2019?
“I’m never going to make the playoff mandate,” he said, “but I do expect us to be better. Every player, the coaches, [coach] Adam [Gase], [general manager] Mike Maccagnan, me, we have to prove ourselves here. I know we’re a better team and we haven’t even gotten to the draft.”
Johnson, addressing a small group of reporters at the NFL’s spring meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, said he believes Jets “fans are going to be really excited about this team moving forward. I sure as hell hope this is going to be a playoff team. I want to win every game. We can’t get there fast enough. I’m an impatient man, I want this team to win, and I think that we have a really good chance to be a quite good team this year.”
One player the Jets had targeted – Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr – initially agreed to sign with the Jets but backed out at the last minute and returned to Minnesota. Johnson was disappointed but not troubled by Barr’s change of heart.
“We want people on our team who want to be New York Jets,” he said. “Not everybody wants to be in New York. If he didn’t want to be here, that’s fine. It’s disappointing when someone backs out of an agreement, but we want people that are all-in.”
Johnson believes the recent additions, combined with the improvement of young players such as quarterback Sam Darnold and tight end Chris Herndon, bode well for the team.
“It starts with protecting Sam and giving him targets, and I think we’ve done a good job there, not only with the people we have coming in free agency but the players who were coming along last year,” he said. “Chris Herndon, seeing his growth, his connection with Sam. Throw in Bell, who I think will open things up for [receivers] Robby [Anderson] and Quincy [Enunwa] and Crowder. I think that’s a really good recipe for success. We need a lot of other pieces, and we’re working on that.”
Asked if the buzz around the team will raise the stature of the Jets in the New York market, Johnson smiled and said he isn’t preoccupied with that notion.
“I just want to win games,” he said. “All that can come. If we win a Lombardi Trophy, I’ll wear it around like a crown until people are sick of me.”