In this article I am going to take a look at the 2012 New York Jets free agent class and give my opinion on who should stay with the team, and who should be allowed to walk.
Sione Pouha: Sione Pouha played the best season of his career in 2011 and proved to be one of the most valuable players on the defense. He might be a on the wrong side of 30 and he may not be getting any younger, but when you have a rock in the middle like Pouha, you don't let him walk. Pro Football Focus graded Sione as the top 34 Nose Tackle in the league and constantly praised him and how he is not able to be moved in the middle. Our cap situation is very tight and Tanny will definitely be busy restructuring contracts before we see any major signings, but I can't see Sione not being on the team in 2012, especially when Kenrick Ellis may be deported if found guilty.
Bryan Thomas: Unfortunately, Thomas saw his season end early this year with a torn ACL. He is the longest tenured Jet, but he may not be one for much longer. He is going on 33 years and is simply old and slow. It really speaks volumes about how bad our pass rush is that he led the team in sacks two seasons ago. He did what he was asked to do in playing the run and setting the edge, but it is time for the front office to move on and get younger, faster, and stronger at the position through the draft or via free agency.
Jim Leonhard: "Jimmy" as most know him from Hard Knocks, has held the strong safety spot on the Jets since he came over from Baltimore in 2009. He was always undersized and slow for a safety, standing at 5'8", but did everything that Rex asked of him. He played in the box, did well in run support, and held his own in coverage. "Held his own" is not where this team needs to be though. Jimmy is a fan-favorite and a great story, coming back from his injuries and such, but I think it might be time to move on. He will be 30 soon, and, simply put, isn't what we need at this point in time. I expect the Jets to look for a new starting safety through the draft, like Mark Barron or George Iloka, or through a pretty talented free agent class at the position.
LaDainian Tomlinson: I think Tomlinson will leave the team. The Jets used Tomlinson well in his two years here and he proved to be a valuable mentor and team leader on a team that so desperately needed one. However, he is getting older, and we have a pair of talented backs in Greene and McKnight. Tomlinson lacks explosiveness anymore and his career is practically over. He will probably sign with the Super Bowl favorites and take one last shot at getting the Super Bowl ring that he deserves.
Robert Turner: I don't get it. We all remember that game where Turner went down and never returned. We knew that were something to happen to Mangold, we would be in the pooper. Well...something did...and we shall never talk about it again. What I don't get is why people thought that this team would have been much better had Turner been healthy. What has he ever shown that leads you to believe that he would've been a reliable backup. I digress. I expect the Jets to resign him because they are scared of another fiasco happening again. He can also play any interior line position which is pretty valuable I guess.
Kevin O'Connell: He sucks. Bye.
Mark Brunell: He's old. And he sucks now. He was a good mentor and may be back with the team later as a coach, but hopefully never again as a player. Deuces, Mark.
Plaxico Burress: The only way I see the Jets resigning Burress is if he accepts a cheap, one-year deal and accepts that he will only be used in the red zone. I doubt this will happen, but it'd be smart. I think the front office will pursue some receivers in the draft. They have shown great interest in Gerrell Robinson from Arizona State.
Nick Folk: Two terrible years in a row. If Westy brings him back, he loses a ton of credibility. Hopefully Folk will never come within 10,000 feet of New York ever again.
Brodney Pool: I'm not ready to give up on Pool. I don't think he was ever given the attention he deserved in training camp because of Rex's bromance with Eric Smith and Jimmy Leonhard. He has flashed potential and has the size and speed that you look for in a starting safety. He is a terrible tackler, but that can be resolved. I hope the Jets resign him and give him a chance to compete for the starting job in training camp.
Donald Strickland: He played OK in some games, and just plain bad in others. He is on the wrong side of 30. I don't see any reason to bring him back. The Jets have some capable backup corners in Cole, Trufant, and Lankster.
Marquice Cole: For a cornerback playing in a drastically limited role, he has actually impressed me. The majority of his practice time is likely spent on special teams where he has played well. I don't think any other teams even know who this guy is and he could be a diamond-in-the-rough type player for us. Plus Rex loves his defensive backs. I expect him back. One or two year deal.
Jamaal Westerman: For some reason, the coaches felt that he could become a starter after Thomas went down. Clearly not. He lost tons of playing time towards the end of the year to Josh Mauga, Garrett McIntyre, and Aaron "Mayhem" Maybin. He is a RFA, and Rotoworld thinks the Jets will tender him with a second or third rounder. I don't think the Jets retain him.
Patrick Turner: Finally Patrick Turner flashed some ability. He was clutch on third downs at the end of the year and came up with some big time grabs in the middle of the field. He is a guy who I doubt any other team in the NFL has any interest in and I am willing to bet that he comes back for one more year on the practice squad. He might almost be ready to take that next step towards become a 4th string receiver.
Aaron Maybin: I love this kid. He has one of the best stories in the NFL and has really come through big time. He is a Jets fan, and coaching staff favorite. Give him a bunch of attention in training camp and lock him in the weight room for a while and he could become more than a third down pass rusher. I desperately hope the Jets bring him back and find a way to enhance his talents ever further. A two year deal should do.
Matthew Mulligan: He is a penalty machine and might have the worst hands in the league. He is an alright blocker, but that doesn't make up for anything else. Let him walk and find his way onto another team like Hartsock did. Then address the tight end position in the middle to late rounds of the draft.
Ellis Lankster: Like Cole, he Lankster has shown value on special teams. He also flashed some potential in the preseason. He could be a nice and worthwhile project going forward. Bring him back.
Martin Teveseau: He is our defensive Patrick Turner. A guy who has all of the physical tools in the world, but is raw just about everywhere else. He should be brought back to compete for a roster spot and get another year of work on the practice squad.
Resign: Pouha, Robert Turner, Plaxico Burress, Martin Teveseau, Ellis Lankster, Marquice Cole, Patrick Turner, Aaron Maybin, Brodney Pool
Let Walk: Matthew Mulligan, Donald Strickland, Jamaal Westerman, Ladainian Tomlinson, Jim Leonhard, Bryan Thomas, Kevin O'Connell, Mark Brunell, Nick Folk