Writing this post is a bit bittersweet for me. Just last week, following the Jets fantastic win against the hated Pats, one the activities I enjoyed most was heading over to PatsPulpit and checking out how they were doing postseason previews instead of prepping for an AFC Championship game appearance. Alas, now I am following in their footsteps following our loss at Pittsburgh. Now, I know John B. already has articles posted on this topic as do many others but I hope to add at least some new insight and some of my own perspective to the debate. Before I start, I just wanna put it out there that I really don't watch much college football, so I don't really know from college prospects, so I won't be dealing with that aspect (although if people wanna mention some names in the comments they're more than welcome). This post is also going under the assumption that everything in the CBA will be worked out at normal times and no terribly drastic changes occur. This whole post is also working with the assumption that Tanny can do magic juggling and get most money matters worked out. Also, I apologize for the upcoming length of the psot but there's a lot to discuss :)
Areas of Need: The offensive backfield at this point appears to be pretty stable, although I'd really like for the Jets to get a new 2nd string QB. Mark Brunell just doesn't cut it. At WR although our frontline players are good (assuming we can keep both Holmes and Braylon, which I hope we do) but the depth is poor. Even if Brad Smith is to return (I don't think he will though) he really doesn't give you much as a receiver. The Jets also don't have a secondary WR who's a burner to beat you deep. Although both Braylon and Santonio can get deep bombs, they usually are facing better coverage and may not get as open. A 4th WR will be placed on the Drew Colemans and Kyle Wisons of the world and have a better opportunity to get open deep. This is something the Jets currently lack in their arsenal. A backup TE who can actually be a halfway decent threat in the passing game and block would be greatly appreciated. Ben Hartsock and Matt Mulligan couldn't catch if their life depended on it and I'm not sure Jeff Cumberland is ready yet. I think the O-Line is fine.
On the D-Line we majorly need depth. Even if Shaun Ellis returns we still are very thin and nobody in that unit is able to get a consistent push when rushing the opposing QB. Probably thebiggest need the Jets have is at OLB. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are flat out jokes. Thomas was virtually invisble this year and I felt he played particularly poorly against Pitt. I think we should try signing Matthias Kiwanuka off the Giants. He's an excellent pass rusher and the Giants moved him around a lot so maybe he can be a poor man's Adalius Thomas (Baltimore vintage). He's coming off a major injury which means he would probably be cheap. This would be a classic Tanny low risk / high reward move (Holmes, Braylon, Cro, LT .....) Jason Taylor will hopefully retire. If we aren't able to get a consistent pass rush next year it is hard to see ow our defense will improve back to the level it was at last year. Our depth at CB is quite good though we could probably use better safetys. We also need a new kicker. Nick Folk has gotta get the folk outta here!
Unrestricted Free Agents (via nyjetscap.com) : The Jets will have many UFA's this upcoming offseason. On offense the big names are the 3 WR's. Personally, I think we have to keep both Braylon and Santonio. My general philosophy with the free agent situation is this: if the player is good and cannot be replaced well, than I'd like him to stay. However, even if he's very good but we can have a readily available decent replacement, then he's a goner. Simply put, he Jets have nobody who can adequately replace Santonio or Braylon. Although JCo is good but he doesnt provide any of the dangerous skilles that Holmes and Edwards provide. Additionally, I think that we can get both players relatively cheap. Neither had a great statistical year and Santonio has drug trouble behind him and Braylon has the DUI issue. Woody Johnson was asked back when Edwards was arrested whether he got a fair punishment and he responded that Edwards punised himself in the FA market. Braylon also hurt his bargaining power in the opposite of the Rex / Revis situation by repeatedly claiming how much he loves NY and how much he needs a city like this. I don't think the Jets should keep Brad Sith though unless he'll get little $ which I don't think will happen (some team like the Bengals or Raiders will overpay him big time). His game is easily replaceable. Although he's an excellent returner but good returners are a dime a dozen. Would anybody really be upset if Joe McKnight returned kicks next year. Would anybody be all that bothered if the Seminole left our offensive playbook. Smith also is not exactly a fantastic WR. True, he won us a few games but I think he's pretty easily replaceable.
On the defensive side the big names are Shaun Ellis, Trevor Price, Cro, Eric Smith, Drew Coleman and Brodney Pool. Ellis is an interesting case. On the one hand he's an old time Jet warrior and has given his soul to the franchise. I love true Jets and I'd love to keep him. His game against the Pats was incredible. On the other hand he's slowing down and isn't much of a threat rushing the passer any more and he's getting old. The Jets need young blood on the D-Line. If he is willing to accept a pretty small deal I'd gladly keep him. Unfortunately I don't suspect that this'll be the case and I think we'll have to let him go. Trevor Pryce though I think we'll keep. He loves Rex and I was very impressed by what he showed this year. In now ay, shape or form should he start but I think he's very valuable for depth. Cro is the big question. I think he had a very good year but I'm not sure we should keep him if we have a shot at Nnamdi Asomugha (more on that later). Cro I think played pretty poorly in both the Colts and Steelers game. If it came down to 2 out of 3 between him and Braylon + Santonio I'd take the WR's in a heartbeat. I think we should keep Eric Smith and Drew coleman for depth. I'm not sure what to do regarding Pool. He played well in the playoffs but didnt really have a particularly good regular season.
Steve Weatherford is also a UFA and although he had a poor playoffs I think we must keep him. Shake Weights!!!!
Restricted Free Agents: I only really bring this up because of David Harris. Generally I'd say we ave to keep him but in a fanpost a couple of weeks ago someone (sorry, I forgot who) brought up an interesting idea. Nnamdi Asomugha is significantly better than Cro and as such is bound to make a few million more than Cro. If we got Asomugha though we'd ave the best corner tandem in the history of the game. The problem though is that the Jets really don't have money to spend. His suggestion was to let both Harris and Cro go and sign Asomugha in a balancing move (we'd actually probably gain a few mil there). The reason that this even might make a quarter sense is that Harris is an RFA and we can get draft picks back. Namely, I'd assume we could get a 1st and a 3rd Is it worth it to get Aso, a 1st and 3rd rounder and probably a couple of mil (I'd guess we'd draft a MLB in the 1st round with that pick) over Cro and Harris. I'm not sure but it's an interesting point.
Players We Should Cut: Now, this is where it gets interesting. In order to have enough money to resign players the Jets will probably have to cut players to save cap space. Here are the best candidates.
Kris Jenkins (savings of $4.6 mil if cut) I think the Jets should for sure cut him but resign him to veterans minimum. We simply can't rely on him anymore. If he does return, Sione Pouha should remain the starter.
Bryan Thomas ($3.7 mil) pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaaase cut him. He's awful.
Damien Woody ($3.24 mil) I know he's excellent and all but he's getting old and injury prone and we have decent backup options if he leaves. Wayne Hunter has been quite good in his abscense. We also have Vlad Ducasse who was drafted with taking over Woody in mind. And for those saying he's not ready, you probably wouldv'e said the same regarding Slauson when Faneca was cut and Slauson was quite good this year.
Jason Taylor ($2.275 mil) Or he should retire but he definitely shouldn't be back
Ben Hartsock ($1.65 mil) He can't catch and anyhow Matt Mulligan is a cheaper Ben Hartsock clone
Mark Brunell ($1.3 mil) Look, he's done great work with Sanchez and I'd love to keep him on the team..........as a QB coach
LT ($2.425 mil) This is the most interesting case. LT definitely had a bounceback year for the Jets. That being said, he slowed down considerably as the season wore along. My other issue is that I feel that Shonn Greene should be the feature back next year and so long as LT is around, he won't be and LT will steal his carries. I think we should instead go after Darren Sproles. He's basically a Leon clone and would reproduce the catches we'd miss with losing LT. He probably wouldn't be expensive as he was the 3rd string running back (behind Matthews and Tolbert) on the Chargers. Similar to LT, I think his numbers would be a lot better playing for the Jets O-Line. He could also replace Brad Smith in the return game if he leaves.