It's been one of the most important stories in the NFL this season. After some initial confusion, it looked like the Jets had added a key player at a position of need. It was dominating headlines for a while, but now there's widespread uncertainty as to whether this player will be on the 2023 Jets or not.
So what's going on?
Did the Jets sign Isaiah Mack or not?
Recapping this long-running saga:
- On January 16th it was reported that the Jets had claimed the former Titans and Ravens defensive tackle off postseason waivers from Seattle;
- On the day after the Super Bowl, it was confirmed that Mack was officially a Jet, at the end of the postseason waiver period;
- All indications were that Mack was a pending Exclusive Rights Free Agent and therefore would be tendered by the Jets at the start of the league year; but
- No further reports about his status have been made.
Usually, when there's an ERFA, the transaction wire will reflect that they were tendered and, if they weren't, it will reflect that they were not and therefore simply reverted to being an unrestricted free agent. However, neither of these things happened.
This begs the question as to whether or not his ERFA status was correct. The Jets' own website listed him as an exclusive rights free agent, though, as did OTC, Spotrac and Wikipedia. Looking at Mack's history, he clearly accrued a full season in 2019 and 2020, but has only played four games in 2021 and 2022 with most of that time spent on practice squads, so it does seem like he should be an exclusive rights free agent with two accrued seasons entering into the offseason.
Assuming he is indeed an ERFA, are we to assume that the fact no tender offer was ever reported means that he was non-tendered and now an unrestricted free agent? There is conflicting information on this.
Spotrac and OverTheCap list Mack as under contract at the minimum, which implied they are either assuming - or have had confirmation - that Mack was offered an ERFA tender for 2023. Or perhaps they signed him to a conventional one-year deal for some procedural reason.
However, the Jets' own site, which used to list Mack as an ERFA but since being updated for recent signings no longer lists him at all, even though it does still list Bryce Huff as an RFA and all of the other unsigned UFAs.
Adding to the confusion, Mack's NFL.com page treats him as unattached to any team and shows him as a UFA. And Mack's own twitter and instagram pages bear no references to the Jets (although it doesn't look like he updates these very often).
Mack would have been a long-shot to compete at the defensive tackle position, but he showed some promise in his first two seasons and the Jets lack depth at the position right now so it could have been a good opportunity for him.
The other question is that, if they weren't going to tender him, what the hell was the point in claiming him with his contract about to expire? Perhaps they had a change or heart, or decided to give Mack a chance to catch on with another team before revisiting him if he can't get signed - or maybe he's been on the team all along and nobody, including the Jets' own social media team, has been told.
The mystery will be solved eventually - perhaps before the draft, perhaps around June 1st or perhaps right before camp. Or the outcome will become apparent when camp begins and he's not around.
We'll keep our ears to the ground. In the meantime, don't buy his jersey yet...