There are a few things the Jets must consider when making a plan for dealing with Shaun Ellis. The first is whether there are potentially cheap replacements in house. It feels like there are. The plan in 2010 was to have Sione Pouha start at nose tackle and play Kris Jenkins at defensive end. That did not work out, but Jenkins will be back in 2011. So will Ropati Pitoitua, the 25 year old the coaching staff was doing good work developing. Trevor Pryce will also be out there likely willing to take the minimum to return for Rex Ryan.
Even then, defensive ends in the 3-4 are not difficult to find and develop. Part of the reason the 3-4 came into being was the relative ease with which teams can find 280-310 pound guys strong enough to hold the point of attack. There are bound to be guys on the market who would come relatively cheaply.
Would any of these guys be as good as Ellis? The answer is that they probably would not. The Jets have a limited amount of money, however, with many free agents to sign. Would a small dropoff at defensive end be more palatable than a big dropoff elsewhere? It might just be so.