I enjoyed reading Rich Cimini's five reasons to be pessimistic so much, I thought i would dive back to ESPN for some more Jets related delights. I wasn't disappointed, as ESPN list the Jets as one of the top five teams who face major decisions in relation to their own free agents over the coming off-seasons:
3. New York Jets: Eight starters will be free agents after this season, with the biggest decisions coming on offense. If Shonn Greene proves to be the workhorse running back the organization believes he can be, he might be too costly to keep. He's a free agent in 2013. So is tight end Dustin Keller, who might get a franchise tag. Overall, a dozen starters could be free agents over the next two years, including cornerback Darrelle Revis. If the Jets don't do anything with Revis' contract this season, they must do something next year. He's a free agent after 2013, and the team has waived its ability to franchise or transition him. The Jets are already more than $19 million over next year's cap, making things even tougher.
I don't think there are any arguments to be made that the Jets have some serious cap considerations coming up over the next two years. So in 2013, here are your New York Jets free agents of note:
So while Greene and Keller are the two main ones that a lot of people will focus on. Brandon Moore also has to be a priority, we outlined just how important he was yesterday. Also not to beat around the bush, but we have only short term fixes as safety this year. If Landry stays healthy and performs, he won't be cheap to keep.
In an ideal world, Ducasse improves to the extent that maybe if Moore asks for too much we can kick him inside as a mauler. In a man blocking scheme, the verbiage is a lot simpler and hopefully this helps his development. Or even better Moore comes back on a reasonable salary. Josh Bush and Antonio Allen have impressive rookie campaigns and are deemed ready for extensive play-time in 2013-2014.
The main question remains, do we bring back Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller. It will of course completely depend on the seasons that they have. A lot of people love Dustin Keller and for good reason, he's a first round pick who has a great connection with Sanchez.. He's coming off his best ever season as a Jet with 815 yards on 65 receptions with 5 receiving touchdowns. Removing Keller is dangerous to Sanchez's development. Keller is never going to be that duel supreme blocker, but in my mind keeping him even with a ground and pound offense is vital. A long term deal with Keller may be hard with our current cap situation, and besides I'd like Keller to prove that his improvement in 2011 was a sign of what is to come and not a one off performance. The improvement from 2009 to 2010 and then to 2011 would suggest it is not.
However with so much money already tied up, and Revis's situation needing to be addressed, it may be prudent to let Keller prove his worth in 2012 and then franchise him to give the team time to work out a long term deal. The Franchise tag for a tight end is likely to float around the $5.5 million mark, but now Rob Gronkowski signed his six year $53 million extension with the Patriots, that figure is likely to increase for the 2013 season. Keller has made it clear that he wants that extension and not to be franchised but unfortunately due to the contracts the Jets have handed out recently, their hands could be somewhat tied.
It's no suprise that Keller wants to receive that long term security contract, he's playing out his rookie contract and he has witnessed the core players for the Jets receive contract extensions over the past two years. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis have all received extensions and so has Mark Sanchez. Unfortunately the nature of a salary cap is that sometimes you won't be able to keep all your good players, and it may be that Keller moves on, I hope he doesn't.
Now we come to the curious case of the 'War Machine' Shonn Greene. For the first time in his career, he cracked the 1,000 yard rushing mark (1,054) with a 4.2 average. Both are very respectable marks, however his touchdown rate was low with just the 6 rushing scores. It's really going to be interesting to see how he does behind the man blocking zone where he knows which gap to hit and doesn't have to do too much 'reading'. Although a 1000 yard season is impressive, in 16 games he failed to reach the end zone in 12 of these contests. From the opposing teams 20 yard line to the goal line, he averaged 2.6 yards a carry. Obviously it's harder to crack off big runs in a short space but for a player billed as a bulldozer, he should be knocking players back and getting into the end zone at a better clip.
I really like Shonn Greene and I absolutely loved him at Iowa. However he isn't an elite back in this league and certainly should not be paid like one. If he breaks out in 2012 then the Jets have problems, especially if Keller also puts up a good season. Sometimes I think that we restructure and restructure, putting things back and back, at some point we're going to need to tackle the cap head on. That time may be coming, if a player has to go, then a player has to go.