Over the last couple of weeks, pretty much every Jets fan I know has turned their focus away from the product on the field to the guys who put that product together. There have been calls for every member of the front office to be fired, and almost every player on the team to be cut or traded. And while I know most of it is an emotional response to the terrible play the last couple of weeks, its starting to become a little crazy. Its time everyone takes a deep breath and relax, because the world is not coming to an end, and the future is not as dark as it seems right now.
The goal of this article is to try and take a calmer, sensible, and most importantly different look at the near future of the Jets from 3 angles: the cap, the front office, and the roster moving forward. I know a lot of whats to come is rather the opposite of what a lot of fans want, but as we all know, the Jets never do what we (the fans) want. So here goes:
1. The Cap
Every fan, writer, and radio/tv personality seems to believe that the Jets are in deep, deep trouble with respect to cap in the coming years. But taking a slightly deeper look at it, that is not necessarily the case. The current roster for next year according to NYJetsCap.com has 40 players due a total of $142 million dollars. (Note, I have rounded some of these numbers for simplicity, but they are close enough to get the point.) That seems terrible, but there is some wiggle room. Cutting some notable guys such as Bart, Pace, Tebow, E. Smith, J. Smith, and assorted other bottom-of-the-roster guys frees up a potential $41mil and change. This leaves the roster at 27 guys, and $100mil in money towards the cap. With a prjected cap of $132 + $5 mil, this leaves the jets $37 million in space to sign 26 players for next year. This may not seem like whole lot, but factor in roughly $7mil for draft picks, and the fact that the 2014 roster only has about $80 million committed to 19 guys, a creative GM could add some nice pieces to this team still.
2. The Front Office
I do agree with the vast majority that Tanny has to take a good deal of the blame for the results of this team. I also agree that he probably deserves to get fired. However, I really hope he doesn't this year. And here's why. For all of his shortcomings and lack of ability to evaluate talent, Tanny is a master with numbers and the cap. And thats what we need for this off-season; someone who can get the most out of every penny, and add contracts despitetight finances. I think Tanny gets one more shot to fix this before the whole team is torn down and the organization starts over. The same goes for Rex and the entire staff. I know a lot of fans won't like it, but I think this staff can, and may actually excel here with a little influx of talent and another year to work. I am a Rex fan, and i do believe that he can make this work. After all, through his first 48 games, he has 28 wins, which is 1 win behind Parcells, 5 ahead of Mangini, and 3 ahead of Herm at the same point. He deserves at least one more year to see if he can fix it.
3. The Roster
The key to making this team a winner next year is to go backwards. There have been a great number of people calling for Sanchez's head over the last year and a half, and rightly so based on his play. But Sanchez isnt going anywhere this year, and he isnt going to become Brady anytime soon. But Sanchez has proven he can win games with a good defense and run game. So thats what they should give him. The focus of this off-season should be defense, defense, defense, and O line. This defense needs a drastic facelift, and the O line could use a new face or 2, but thats it. No new RBs, no big name receivers. For those who disagree, the Jets are 15th in total rushing yards, and Greene is 18th in yards himself, ahead of Matt Forte, MJD, and Ryan Mathews. Add in Powell, who is starting to come on, and McKnight, the Jets have a compitent backfield on this years roster. And I expect that Greene will return for a resonable contract. I will say that I think Powell will be the starter next season, but Greene will be a very nice compliment back.
As for WR, the best addition they can make is by sitting still and doing nothing. Holmes will be back, Hill will be improved, and Kerley is slowly turning into a stud. It pains me, but I believe Keller will be too expensive to resign, promoting Cumberland to the #1 receiving TE. He has shone some flashes this year, and IMO could be a serviceable TE going forward. I think they will add a TE in the draft (im getting to that), but I don't think it will be Ertz or Eifert.
Now comes Free Agency. The Jets should look to add some backups and small pieces in FA for the most part, with the exception of 1 player. Conner Barwin is a FA, and will probably not get an extension from the Texans before hitting the market. He would be a very nice addition, stepping into the weak-side LB hole caused by cutting Pace. He gives us some much needed youth and talent in the LB core. Also as i am writing this, the Raiders are cutting Rolando McClain. The Jets should take a flyer on him. He is young (23) and has proven he can be productive at ILB. The addition of McClain and Barwin, plus a LB in the draft, turns an old and slow LB core this year into a young and talented one next year. The rest of FA should be spent on resigning our own, mainly Landry, Slauson, Howard, Greene, Bellore, Folk, DeVito, Purdum, and Trufant. The only outside players I really see worth adding are M. Moore to backup Sanchez, and B. Edwards, if he wants to come back for almost nothing. Other than that, most of the new talent should come from the draft.
For the following draft picks, I chose based on a combo of BPA and need, and based my rounds off early projections for players that I found. Based on the way the team is playing, I took the liberty of giving us a top 10 pick. I also listed a backup pick for the first 3 rounds just in case.
1. Jarvis Jones, OLB-Georgia B. Mingo, OLB/DE-LSU
2. DJ Fluker, OT/OG-Bama A. Hurst, OT-LSU
3. Bacarri Rambo, FS-Georgia K. Vaccaro, S-Texas
4. Joe Vellano, DT/DE-Maryland
5. Demitrius Hartsfield, OLB-Maryland
6. Branden Henson, C/OG-BYU
7. Matt Furstenburg, TE-Maryland
Its a little early for draft projections, so this is a real rough guess. Anyway, this gives us the following roster going into next year:
QB: Sanchez, Moore, McElroy
RB: Greene, Powell, McKnight
FB: Connor or Baker (id really like to see connor back)
WR: Holmes, Hill, Kerley, Edwards, White
TE: Cumberland, Rueland, Furstenburg
OT: Brick, Howard, Fluker
OG: Slauson, Ducasse, Henson, Schlauderaff
C: Mangold, (Henson)
DE: Wilk, Couples, DeVito, Vellano
DT: Pouha, Ellis, Harrison
OLB: Barwin, McIntyre, Jones, Hartsfield
ILB: Harris, McClain, Davis, Bellore
CB: Revis, Cro, Wilson, Trufant, Berry
S: Landry, Rambo, Bush, Allen
I think this team could be very competitive next year, and i think the current leadership can and will make it happen. Let me know what you think.