Possibly to the chagrin of many GGN community members, my mock doesn't emphasize the heavy handed offensive overhaul that many have called for. Instead, this is what I would try to accomplish were I the General Manager of the New York Jets.
Before I jump into the meat and potatoes, I'll attempt to justify my thoughts by presenting my philosophy:
I believe that for any business, the keys to extended success are resilience (depth) and economic efficiency. I believe in Murphy's Law. That said, every deal carries inherent risk. Star players are a luxury. At any moment that star can begin to fade or worse implode. For this reason, I believe it is very, very rarely the "right" decision to borrow from the future to invest in the present. I would much rather let a good player walk than commit to a deal that compromises future security. To sum it up, I'm a fan of playing the long game. Now, with that being said, all of these determinations are entirely ambiguous and are subject to the rationale of the decision maker. Thankfully, in this tiny blip of interweb data sewage, I am the master of the universe (that is, until the moderators crush my hopes and dreams.)
Quick note: All cap numbers are approximate. Please correct me if you see any glaring errors.
Enough jibber-jabber right? Let's get to it.
STARTING CAP ROOM: $22,000,000
STARTING DEAD MONEY: $48,000
1. Mark Sanchez - 2014 Cap Savings: $8,300,000. Not much I can say here that hasn’t been said already. Could his career be salvaged? Maybe. But not with the Jets. The damage is done.
2. Santonio Holmes - 2014 Cap Savings: $8,250,000. Again, not much to say. There is no way Holmes stays around with that kind of cap number, let alone without it. Cutting Holmes not only serves the team financially, it also establishes accountability. If Holmes had been a model citizen during his stay with the Jets there would certainly be reason to bring him back with a more reasonable contract; this, however, was not the case.
3. Antonio Cromartie - 2014 Cap Savings: $9,500,000. Unlike Holmes, Cromartie’s character makes him worth keeping around, just not at the current price tag. Cromartie has made public his desire to remain a Jet. Once one the the NFL’s bad boys, Cromartie is now the ideal mentor for the younger guys on the team.
4. Mike Goodson - 2014 Cap Savings: $1,300,000. I’m on the fence with this guy. He flashed some ability during the brief time that he saw the field, but questionable decision-making, injury concerns, and cap savings sign him a ticket out of town. If he continues to rehab well, and is willing to return a near minimum contract, I’d consider a reunion.
Total Savings: $27,350,000
CAP ROOM: $49,350,000
DEAD MONEY: $10,328,000
LET EM' WALK:
1. Nick Folk - This one might face some debate. I respect the fact that Folk had a fantastic season in 2013, but it seems like the fall from grace is always abrupt when it comes to NFL kickers. How many times have we seen a kicker follow up a Pro Bowl caliber season with an absolute stinker? Too many for me. The risk is not worth the reward here.
2. Ed Reed - I bid farewell to one of the greatest ball hawks the game has ever known. He is a shell of his former self. This team was better when Reed was not on the field.
3. Calvin Pace - A fond farewell to a high character Jet. Even with 10 sacks in 2013, I don’t think Pace has much left to offer on the playing field. If bringing in outside talent falls through I could see possibly bringing him back at the minimum, but for now it’s bon voyage to the aging linebacker.
4. Kellen Winslow - While he showed signs of the playmaker he was early in the season, a suspension, injuries, and Jeff Cumberland forced him to the sidelines for the second half of it. Recent revelations make this decision a done deal. Time for this weirdo to go.
5. Willie Colon - Colon played consistently decent all season for the Jets. Unfortunately, in the season finale Colon’s old nemesis, the injury bug, struck again. After tearing his biceps, Colon is a major question mark going forward.
Others: Vladimir Ducasse, Josh Cribbs, David Garrard, Darius Reynaud, Lex Hilliard, Ellis Lankster, Aaron Berry, Josh Mauga, Konrad Reuland, Vidal Hazelton, John Griffin
*Note: at some point any of these players could return as camp bodies if either they don't latch on to another team or if a need arises.
1. Antonio Cromartie - Contract 3 years, $4,000,000 per., limited guarantees. After an awful 2013 season, that somehow saw Cromartie end up in the Pro Bowl, Cromartie will get another chance to showcase his ability and leadership in the green and white.
2. Austin Howard - Contract: 3 years, $4,000,000 per., limited guarantees. Perhaps this is being generous for an average to above-average right tackle, but a) Howard has been quite consistent as a pass protector, and b) I’m not exactly sure what the market value of an average to above-average right tackle is.
3. Jeff Cumberland - 1 year, $1,000,000, limited guarantees. I've always been hopeful that Cumberland could blossom into a legitimate receiving threat, but this may be his last chance to prove it.
Veteran Minimum/Camp Hopefuls: Leger Douzable, Garrett McIntyre, Nick Bellore, Isaiah Trufant.
CAP ROOM: $37,185,000
FREE AGENT TARGETS:
*Because we obviously would never sign all of these players, I am not going to calculate cap room any further.
1. Jimmy Graham - Remember when I said very, very rarely should one borrow from the future to invest in the present? Well, this would be one of those very, very rare moments. The only time I think it is worth committing a significant amount of guaranteed future cap space to a player is if a) the player is a Hall of Fame caliber talent, b) the player has demonstrated this ability over several seasons, and c) the player is in his prime. Jimmy Graham fits all of these categories. While it will be no easy task, it looks like the Saints will do whatever they can to keep Graham in New Orleans, but if Graham were to end up on the market, bringing him to New York would be my top priority. Estimated Contract: $10+ million/year
2. Alterraun Verner - Even with Cromartie back in house, Alterraun Verner would be very high on my short list of players to lasso. In 2013 Verner was a second team All-Pro, and he was tied for the most interceptions in the AFC, with five. We all know that Rex Ryan once said, you can never have enough cornerbacks, and I agree with that statement. In today's NFL, teams that can defend the pass win ball games. The Seattle Seahawks have made this as clear as ever. In 2013, not only did the Seahawks secondary match up well on the outside, but they had depth. When one of their starting cornerbacks, Brandon Browner, was suspended for the season, they didn't miss a beat. Adding Verner to the roster immediately upgrades this secondary from question mark to strong point. Estimated Contract: $5-6 million/year
3. Jason Worilds - The other half of defending the pass: rushing the passer. The big uglies of our defensive front are downright studs. What we need is a legitimate threat from the edge. Having a reasonable edge threat would free up the "Sons of Anarchy" to cause even more chaos in the offensive backfield. Worilds doesn't come without some question marks though. Last season was his first playing in a predominantly starting role. The good news is he’s young and trending upward. This small sample size will likely keep his price tag from hitting astronomical levels.Estimated Contract: $5-6 million/year
4. Lamarr Houston - Why is Lamarr Houston a higher priority than Jeremy Maclin? Depth. High quality depth. Remember I said I believe in Murphy’s Law. What happens if either Muhammad Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson goes down this season? All of a sudden, one of the most dominant fronts in the league becomes much more pedestrian. Enter Houston, a stud run defender and an above average pass rusher for interior defensive linemen. What happens if the unit stays healthy next season? They're still great, and they always have a fresh stud to throw at an offensive line. In recent years we've seen a few teams ride this strategy to success. The Giants rode this all the way to the Lombardi Trophy. Estimated Contract: $4 million/year
5. Jeremy Maclin - Certainly the receiving corps is the area of greatest need on our team, but unfortunately, there aren't a lot of great options on the market this offseason. That said, outside of Eric Decker, who is looking more and more like a man who is about to be way overpaid, Maclin has the highest upside of the players available. Coming off a serious knee injury, there are some major health questions, but regardless, Maclin has the greatest potential to play like a number one receiver. As a bonus, he already knows Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, so missing out on training camp time won’t be as big of an issue. Estimated Contract: $4-5 million/year
6. Emmanuel Sanders/Golden Tate - I don't view either of these guys as a legitimate number one threat, but both could play great complementary roles in a functional receiving corps. I told you before, I believe in the long game. This mock offseason is not an attempt at making the Jets a complete team for the coming season, this would be an attempt to build a legitimate foundation for continued success. I would welcome the signing of either player at a reasonable contract, but if other teams start to bid for their services I would not hesitate to remove myself from the affair. Estimated Contract: $4 million/year
7. T.J. Ward - Again, I can hear the shrieks of the GGN community. Why have the safety position so low of the priority list. Well, the short answer is that something has to be here. The real reason though, I believe that the cornerback position should be priority in the secondary. Ward is a talented player though. In the prime of his career, with plenty of gas left in the tank, Ward will make whatever team he lands on quite happy. If talks with Verner fell through, making T.J. Ward a New York Jet would certainly jump up the list. Estimated Contract: $5-6 million/year
Other Potential Targets: Jairus Byrd, Brian Orakpo, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vontae Davis, Hakeem Nicks, Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin, Miles Austin, Champ Bailey
2014 NFL DRAFT:
As you might have guessed, I am a firm believer in the BPA approach to the draft. As we all know, it’s impossible to predict the flow of the draft with any real certainty, so I'll throw out a few players at each pick that I see as potential fits.
Round 1, Pick 18:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama - Good: Top rated safety on most boards, Versatile, Very athletic, Good in Coverage. Bad: Not a huge sample size. Surrounded by blue chip players.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC - Good: Former Biletnikoff Award winner, Phenomenal athlete, High end speed, Great run after the catch ability. Bad: Injuries and inconsistency in 2013 pushed him out of the top 5 and down draft boards.
Eric Ebron, TE, UNC - Good: Blue Chip Athlete, Fantastic speed, Makes the spectacular catch. Bad: Drops some catchable balls. Rumors have spread that Ebron has put on significant weight. We’ll see where he is come the combine.
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Mich. St. - Good: Strong, Physical, Aggressive, Great in press coverage, Jumps off the tape, Bad: Only knock is lack of elite speed.
Round 2, Pick 17:
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt - Good: Tough, Ideal size for number one receiver, Good hands, Productive in college. Bad: Lacks elite speed.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn St. - Good: Great hands, Great jumping ability, Good route runner with decent speed. Bad: Unlikely he’ll be around at this point, but if he is it’s a steal.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, TE, Washington - Good: Huge, Powerful, Great body control, Great redzone threat. Bad: Not fast.
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio St. - Good: Fast, athletic, Versatile, High motor, Productive in college. Bad: Lean upper body.
Round 3, Pick 5 (from Buccaneers):
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio St. - Good: Big: 6’0" 240 lbs.,Punishes defenders, Very productive in college: 2013, 1,500 yds & 15 TDs in 11 games. Bad: Some character questions, not fast.
Xavier Su’a Filo, G, UCLA - Good: Strong, Experienced: 38 college starts, Very athletic. Bad: Loses focus for periods and technique suffers.
Trever Reilly, OLB, Utah - Good: Prototype build, Form tackler, Good pass rusher. Bad: Some legitimate injury concerns, Not very fast.
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford - Good: Long athletic build, Aggressive, Intelligent. Bad: Can over pursue and be overly aggressive, some injury concerns.
Round 3, Pick 16:
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado - Good: Very fast, Good hands, Good size, Good production. Bad: Very thin. Afraid to take a hit. Injury will be a concern at the next level.
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU - Good: Big physical runner, Great second effort, Athletic, Good receiver. Bad: Serious character concerns.
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama - Good: Smokin’ hot girlfriend, Prototypical size, Great game manager, History of success. Bad: Surrounded by all-star cast, Average arm.
DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn St. - Good: Very big man, Very strong, Eats up blockers. Bad: Slow, Technique breaks down when he gets tired.
Rounds 4-7: Who knows?
So there you have it. I hope you all enjoyed my vision, even if you disagree with it. If you do disagree feel free to let me know. All I ask is that you be respectful and not misrepresent what I say, after all it took me a while to come up with all this crazy crap, but if that’s too much to ask, screw it, it’s a free country.