NEW YORK (CBSNew York/AP) -- The search is over. The Jets finally have a new general manager.
Owner Woody Johnson made it official on Tuesday night, announcing the hiring of former Houston Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan.
In the aftermath of the firing of both head coach Rex Ryan and former GM John Idzik on Dec. 29, the Jets did their due diligence in identifying and then recruiting candidates for both vacant positions. Johnson hired long-time NFL executives Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf as consultants and the club's power structure judiciously went about its task of finding the next GM.
The Jets interviewed seven candidates for GM but invited only Maccagnan back for a second interview. He will be teamed with head coach Todd Bowles after the former Arizona defensive coordinator reached a reported four-year deal with New York late Tuesday night.
"We interviewed a number of impressive, qualified candidates, but Mike Maccagnan clearly stood out," Johnson said.
Maccagnan, who worked in the World League and CFL prior to stints as a pro and college scout for the Washington Redskins from 1994-2000, paid his dues during a 15-year run with the Texans, rising through the ranks from coordinator to assistant director to director of college scouting.
"In my line of work," Maccagnan said, "having the chance to serve as a general manager is what you work toward your entire career."
He has long been a favorite of Casserly, who was Houston's GM from 2000-06.
"Mike Maccagnan is an outstanding football man, one who is highly organized, and an excellent evaluator," Casserly told reporters Tuesday night. "He is very thorough in his preparation and will do a terrific job for the Jets."
Added Wolf: "(Maccagnan) has a great understanding of this league and the skill and ability to evaluate personnel."
A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, Maccagnan has a quarter century of experience as a football talent evaluator and he will need every bit of that experience to fix the Jets. He is taking over a franchise that has not made the playoffs in four years and is coming off a brutal 4-12 season. Maccagnan said he's got a plan to get the Jets back to playing competitive football.
"As with all teams, there are some areas we need to address," Maccagnan said prior to the Bowles news was learned. "But we're going to hire the right head coach, evaluate our personnel and work together to build a football operation to get the New York Jets back on the winning track."
Maccagnan got the job over Tampa Bay Buccaneers director of player personnel Jon Robinson, Miami Dolphins director of college scouting Chris Grier, Philadelphia Eagles director of pro personnel Rick Mueller, Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner, Cleveland Browns executive chief of staff Bill Kuharich and Jets senior director of football administration Rod Graves.
Maccagnan will have a solid salary cap situation with the Jets, who enter the offseason about $40 million under the cap. He will have several key decisions to make in the next several months, including figuring out the quarterback position.
Geno Smith mostly struggled through his second season, and the Jets could opt to upgrade the position through free agency or the draft, in which they hold the No. 6 pick. Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston are considered the top quarterbacks who could be available, but both could be gone before New York selects.
Maccagnan will also need to address the cornerback spot, which heavily contributed to the team's struggles last season because of injuries and inconsistency. Star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is in line for a new contract after a solid fourth season, and Maccagnan must determine whether wide receiver Percy Harvin, a midseason acquisition, is worth a $10.5 million cap hit. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson ($11.7 million) and center Nick Mangold ($10.4 million) will also be hefty cap hits.
"I have enjoyed getting to know Mr. Johnson during the interview process and am grateful to him for this opportunity," Maccagnan said. "We have a solid foundation of players and a state-of-the-art facility in one of the most exciting and dynamic areas in America."
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