Jets’ new power couple of Gase and Maccagnan aims to reverse tiresome trend

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Before Adam Gase and Mike Maccagnan were paired in January, the New York Jets’ previous two coach-general manager marriages went something like this:

Let’s rewind to 2013. Rex Ryan, say hello to John Idzik, your new GM. He’s a salary-cap guy, but we’re putting him in charge of all football decisions. Relax, Rex, you’ll get along great. His father was a former Jets assistant, just like yours. It’s destiny! Outcome: The relationship turned toxic and both were fired two years later.

Now, 2015. Mike, meet Todd Bowles. Todd, this is Mike. You’re both getting four-year contracts and you’ll be introduced tomorrow at a news conference. Oh, don’t worry, you guys will hit it off. You have a lot in common because you’re both from New Jersey! Outcome: The Jets went 24-40 in four seasons and Bowles was fired amid rumors of a fractured relationship with Maccagnan.

Now the Jets are starting over with Gase and Maccagnan, whose first as a power couple will come Wednesday with the start of free agency.7

They’re football strangers, sharing no common background, but this is different from the previous partnerships in that Maccagnan had significant input into Gase’s hiring. Still, the perception of them is atypical because the GM — Maccagnan — is the one under pressure, in win-now mode. In most cases, the coach is on the short-term schedule, living and dying in the NFL’s week-to-week world of W’s and L’s.

That said, it should come as no surprise the Jets were a near-unanimous choice among executives as the most desperate team entering free agency, ESPN’s Mike Sando reported from last week’s scouting combine. One executive, calling it a “bad” free-agent class, suggested the Jets could fall into a trap, saying, “If you’re not careful, you can base your decisions on what is in the best short-term interests of the GM as opposed to the best long-term interests of the team.”

It makes for a fascinating dynamic as the Jets prepare to be “very active” in free agency, according to Maccagnan. The Jets have a lot of money to spend ($102 million in cap space) and a lot of places to spend it (a league-low 39 players under contract.) The circumstances might prompt him to deviate from some of his free-agency tenets.

In recent years, Maccagnan gave the big contracts (guarantees beyond the first year) to players under 30, but he might make an exception or two this time. His track record also suggests he won’t pay a premium for a running back, but that will get blown to smithereens if he signs Le’Veon Bell. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Maccagnan tries to load up for a serious playoff push; after all, he’s still looking for his first postseason berth. Gase, with the security of a long-term contract, can afford to be slow and methodical.