The Jets approach this offseason with a decent amount of cap room and an eye towards the future. Rex Ryan loves guys who know his system, so the front office (namely me) is bringing back a number of Rex guys on short term deals as well as adding a few choice pieces in free agency and the draft that should set the team to be competitive in the future whether or not Rex is the coach anymore by 2015. On defense, I have focused on adding high ceiling, minimal risk players who should be able to excel in Rex's aggressive system, and on offense I have brought in enough talent at receiver and tight end where a healthy preseason of competition should leave us with a far more potent starting lineup than we've seen in a while. I have also chosen to have three potential starting qbs on the roster instead of adding a savvy veteran backup, as I do not believe that strategy works and I would hope that our coaches can develop a qb without a noodle-armed vet there to help. If Rex Ryan is NFL head coach material, this roster will be good enough to allow him to compete for his division or a wild card spot. If he falters again, we're bringing in a guy who knows offense next year.
Welcome to my AGOP. I think you'll be unimpressed, but I love it.
Nick Bellore - 3yr 2.6m (minimum)
Garrett McIntyre 2yr 1.4m (minimum)
Darrin Walls 2yr 1.4m (minimum)
Austin Howard 5yr 28m (contract is evenly structured to allow for a relatively painless cut at the ends of yrs 3 or 4 if necessary.)
Ellis Lankster 1yr 730,000 (minimum)
Leger Douzable 3yr 6m (good depth. Fair price for a talented player who does not have a tremendous amount of statistical firepower to throw around in free agency. )
Willie Colon 1yr 1.1m (Colon's late season injury should keep teams from investing in him long term. Second 'show me' deal in a row for the powerful guard.)
Calvin Pace 2yr 3.2m ( Pace is brought back on a smallish contract to provide depth and another body to throw in if the long term solution does not present itself immediately. Contract is structured evenly to allow for a painless cut after year one if a replacement is found. )
Cap Room remaining after cuts and re-signings - $37,431,725
Eric Decker- 5yr 54m (yr 1 cap hit 9m) - While most armchair GMs have shied away from the idea of overpaying for Decker's services, I think it is the only area in which the Jets should overpay. There has been a trend over the last few years of teams on the rise (or ones who believe they are on the rise) making a play to acquire a #1 that may not seem elite to the naked eye but who are the best receiver available and whose football skills offers qualities that change an offense. The Dolphins acquired Mike Wallace because his home run potential is second to almost no none in the NFL. The Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin because he is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. In recent history Vincent Jackson was that man, as were Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin, though both of those were acquired via trade. It was also why the New York Jets acquired Santonio Holmes. Decker has proven over the last three years that he is in this class of player. Over the last three years, only Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Dez Bryant have caught more touchdowns than Decker. Some people want to attribute this to Peyton Manning, but when you get right down to it, Decker is the one running the routes, creating the separation and catching the ball. He's a 6'3 receiver with excellent game speed, fearlessness,great route running, great leap, superb adjustment ability, above average hands and excellent instincts. Is he an 'elite number one'? No. But that's why he's not going to get Calvin Johnson money. He is a very talented player who catches touchdowns and is a plus punt returner when you need a spark. I also feel like the people who complain about overpaying him have not checked the free agent market lately. This is what a contract for a very good receiver is supposed to look like in the wake of the most recent CBA. And frankly, the only way a receiver of Decker's caliber will consider coming to a sorry offense like the Jets is going to be for every penny he's worth. This is where the rebuild of the offense starts. There are only two other players on the free agent market who meet the Jets needs in this area. Hakeem Nicks is an injury risk and has shown a bad attitude over the last year, and Golden Tate is another player with attitude problems who has the potential to be an impact player, but has not proven it to the same extent that Decker has. Eric Decker is the most surefire player at our critical position of need, and with the money to spend there's no reason to settle for second best.
Kenny Britt 3yrs 8m (incentive laden with minimal guaranteed money, first year cap hit 1m) The Jets complete their free agency spending on receivers with a high potential but troubled receiver. The Jets give Britt a contract that on the face will make him feel wanted and should motivate him to be his best if he wants to maximize his worth, but in actuality will cost very little to eschew if he proves that the character concerns that come with him are well founded.
Sam Shields 5yrs 32m (yr 1 cap hit 5m) The Jets need someone to play opposite Milliner, and Sam Shields has decided to test free agency at the right time. The teams willing to overpay for corner help are going to be focusing their efforts on Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib and Vontae Davis, allowing the Jets to sign the speedy corner at a price slightly below the 7m per year Shields is hoping to find. We're letting the market come to us.
Stevie Brown 1yr 1.5m In 2012, Stevie Brown had a breakout season for the New York Giants. He finished the year with over 75 tackles and 8 interceptions. After tearing his ACL in the preseason in 2013, Brown hits free agency looking to prove himself again. The Jets are all too happy to give him the chance to do so, as a healthy Brown would be a significant upgrade over Dawan Landry.
Josh Freeman 1yr 2m Josh Freeman is acquired for one reason. Of all the quarterbacks available in free agency, he's the only one who could still become a viable NFL starter. Freeman has a good arm, and was a decent player as a game manager, but when Greg Schiano got a hold of him the wheels fell off. This coming season is probably Freeman's last chance to prove that he belongs in the NFL, and he will serve the dual purpose of pushing Geno and providing a backup with some potential if Geno falters.
Oneil Cousins 1 yr non-guaranteed minimum - Cousins is signed for depth and preseason competition. He is an unspectacular player but has a football body and should provide adequate incentive for Winters to seize the job.
Desmond Bishop - 1 yr non guaranteed minimum - Bishop was looking like he was becoming an excellent football player before he lost two consecutive seasons to injury. If he is able to become a viable NFL player again, he could be an absolute steal. At his best bishop was able to play inside or outside linebacker as needed.
Scott Chandler - 3yrs 6m (2.5m first year cap hit) - The Jets address their need at TE with a solid but unspectacular player. Chandler made under 2m last year with the Bills and that's about right for his value.
Toby Gerhart- 3yrs 7m (2m first year cap hit) - Gerhart is brought in on a similar deal to what Chris Ivory got. In any other year he might have gotten more on the open market, but there are a large number of high potential free agent backs with better track records than him so the market should stay low. Gerhart is a hard runner and a surprisingly good receiver out of the backfield.
Ben Hartsock - 1yr minimum - Hartsock is brought in to be what he is, a blocking TE who will not see too many passes thrown his way.
Cap room after FA - around 12m
Round 1- (trade 18th and 80th picks to jump from 18 to 13) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - With only one or two teams who have receiver as their clear number one need in the top draft and quality talent at many key positions, it is conceivable that the second best WR in the draft falls out of the top 12. I move up aggressively ahead of the Steelers and Ravens, both of whom are going to be taking a long look at receivers, to acquire the guy I think will end up being the most dangerous receiver in this draft. Evans has deceptive speed, great hands and a very good sense of body positioning. When I look at Evans I see Antonio Gates at WR. With his strength and leap, he is virtually unguardable on any comeback/post-up/timing play you can imagine, and he can burn you deep if you press up too close. If his qb can put the ball on him, Evans will regularly command a double team by his second season.
Round 2- Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU - The Jets need talent at outside linebacker. Van Noy is the best player on the board around their second round spot that meets this need. Rex Ryan drools a little.
Round 3- Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford - Reynolds is a very smart football player and can be molded into a ballhawking type free safety by a good NFL coach. He has the potential to be an immediate adequate starter.
Round 4- Dri Archer wr/rb, Kent State - The jets add a potential gamebreaking playmaker. Archer is currently mocked anywhere from the 3rd to 6th rounds, and given his smaller frame this is a reasonable and realistic place to land him.
Round 5- David Fales, QB, San jose State - Fales is the guy who will come in to compete with Geno and Freeman for the qb job. His skillset is suited to a west coast passing attack, giving the jets reason to feel good about him in the fifth round.
Round 5- Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon - A swing for the fences on this one. Lyerla would be a first round pick if he didn't come with the massive amount of baggage that he does come with. With their 5th round comp pick, the jets feel that the upside here is too good to pass on and that a late 5th is a worthwhile sacrifice to make for a guy who could be a long term starter in the right environment. Some desperate team is going to take a chance on him in the 6th or 7th if the Jets don't jump here.
Jets roster (excluding UFA/6th&7th rounders) heading in to training camp:
RB: Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Toby Gerhart, Tommy Bohannon
OL: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Austin Howard, Ben Ijalana, Caleb Schlauderhauff, Willie Colon, Oneil Cousins, Brian Winters, Oday Aboushi, William Campbell, Nick Mangold, Dalton Freeman, Jacolby Ashworth, Patrick Ford