The Jets are in a position this year with their cap and number of picks, to truly reach a new level. But to make great splashes and strides, a team much be willing to give what it takes. If the Jets could retain what they have and inexpensively build a solid nucleus by quietly filling smaller holes, it will give them opportunity to make slam dunks. There aren't as many holes as many believe. The major holes are FS and WR, other than that maybe they could add depth at linebacker, cornerback, running back, tight end but with some promising returning players, it's not something to be overly concerned about this offseason. Here's how they can go about building another AFC championship caliber team:
1. Cuts and Resignings
Cut Mark Sanchez (frees $4.8M in cap)
Cut Santonio Holmes (frees $2.5M in cap)
Resign Austin Howard to a 3 year contract (takes $733K in cap) - he's a player improving, NY should reward him and keep him around as he blooms. If by year 2 he's not a solid bet at starting RT, start looking elsewhere.
Resign Jeff Cumberland to a 3 year contract (takes $730K in cap) - stepped in when needed, stayed healthy and led the Jets in receiving yards. Made huge strides from last year once he got on the field. Like Austin Howard, the Jets should be along his side as he takes the next step in his career into potentially becoming a starting tight end. Look for a sure fire starter elsewhere to add competition. Either way you have a solid #2 who is familiar with your system for not too much cap damage
Resign Darrin Walls to a 1 year contract (takes $645K in cap) - During Milliners up and down season, Walls was able to step in and hold down a spot at corner. At very worst adds some depth at the #4 CB spot who can come in and play temporarily if Wilson or Milliner get injured
Resign Calvin Pace to a 1 year contract (takes $955K in cap) - He had a great season last year, he earned a spot as at least our depth OLB next year. Give him anothr year before he retires and go after a starter in free agency or the draft. If it doesn't work out, you have slightly less pressure with Pace coming off a great year.
REMAINING CAP -
|Year||Total Liabilities||Salary Cap||Cap Room|
Restructure Antonio Cromartie to a short term "prove you still got it" deal. He wants to be a Jet, believes he can be successful AND knows the CB market is deep in FA this year and won't get much buck elsewhere.
2. Free Agency
Sign Jairus Byrd from Buffalo Bills to add flash that secondary has been missing. This would be a 5 year, $52M contract. This is monumental and the true replacement to Revis we need in our defensive secondary. Dee Milliner will no longer feel the pressure and can keep growing with the excellent safety support Byrd would bring. Build around Byrd in free agency
Sign Emmanuel Sanders from Pittsburgh Steelers - Add a good young solid #2 probably for the least amount of money possible. I'm hearing Sanders will be cheaper than Tate. Fill the #2 hole that you know you can and worry about the #1 hole in the draft.
Sign Jon Asamoah from Kansas City Chiefs to take over for Willie Colon - May be at discount in free agency since he lost his job this season, still very young, strong and able to start. Upgrade over Willie Colon because of less injury liability and young. This is basically a 3rd round guard about to hit his prime out on the market for free (no picks need to be given). Scoop him up at a discount and solidify the interior line.
Sign Josh McCown from Chicago Bears to 2 year, $4M contract to come in push, mentor and compete with Geno for the starting signal caller spot. Hopefully this will channel Geno's inner Russell Wilson, otherwise we'll have a QB who many thought could've replaced Jay Cutler
3. Draft -
Round 1 - TRADE UP to Oakland's #4 (Give this year's 1st, both 3rds and both 5ths) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson -
If the Jets are ready to win, it's time to make some bold moves. They made one in free agency for Jairus Byrd, now it's time to get a franchise receiver that you KNOW can be one of the top in the league. If you're sold on this guy's talents, go get him. Oakland may look to trade down again to add quantity in this deep draft. Players Oakland can use such as Dee Ford are projected to be around for the Jets' 1st rounder
Round 2 - Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB, Boise State -
A highly athletic, fluid 1st round graded defensive end who was a 2 time all Mountain West pass rusher in college. Was suspended a few times for violating team rules and can see a fall out of the first round for that. Perfect size and measurables to become an instant starter as a 3-4 outside linebacker in Rex Ryan's front 7.
Round 4 - Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor -
The best players in the 4th may be running backs in a deep year where most backs are projecting to go in the middle rounds. Was heart and soul of Baylor's #1 scoring offense last season, Seastrunk has the spark to become a great complementary back for Ivory and Powell and possibly one day a starter. Adds another dimension to offense to help breath some life back into it.
A New Look At The Jets Roster
Got a solid nucleus of 3 QBs, 2 of which are startable in the NFL. Get the best from both and hope that it is your young rookie who takes his next step and pulls away in this competition. Josh McCown is playing at a Jay Cutler level, so Geno will be forced to exceed that point if he wants to start, which I think is possible based on flashes from last season.
a solid stable a RBs that only really needed another body. Adding Seastrunk gives this group way more than that. A possible workhorse in the NFL, who Gil Brandt once compared to former Jets and Chargers back, Ladanian Tomlinson.
David Nelson finished the year strong and earned his extension. Kerley is an under the radar slot guy who has the slot covered and can occasionally lineup outside (as he's had to a lot in the past 2 years). Adding Sammy Watkins immediately brings the Jets offense up to the level of a team with a top WR such as the Lions or Bengals but with a more promising #2 target in Emmanuel Sanders
TE - Jeff Cumberland, Zack Sudfield - The Jets are reportedly high on Sudfeld's potential. Keep him as a #2 and let Cumberland take over the well earned role as #1 TE. Cumberland may not be Gronk just yet, but is solid and gets the job done. The TE in my opinion is more of a luxury in the NFL than a necessity (who was TE for the Seahawks this year?). Give Cumberland the shot to keep growing into a great big target at TE for Geno while the young Sudfeld develops into a decent NFL TE himself.
Austin Howard is playing well for the Jets, let's hope he continues. Jets also continue to develop Oday Aboushi behind him.
Adding Jon Asamoah is an upgrade from Colon in both age and durability. You have a solid young starting offensive line now led by veteran leader and captain, Nick Mangold.
If it aint broke, don't fix it. The Jets' defensive line flourished last year and helped a team who many thought may have the #1 pick to a 8-8 season finish. Sheldon Richardson and Mo Wilkerson should bring star power to this unit for years to come
A pretty complete linebacking corps. You have the solid David Harris and the startable Demario Davis, Quinton Coples who are young and growing into great players. Add in veterans Pace and Barnes who if healthy are also startable players in the linebacking corps and you have a solid group. Not only that but to add a rookie like Demarcus Lawrence who could probably start opposite of Coples and has potential to be the 3rd impact player in the front 7 and all the sudden the Jets pass rushing questions are completely answered.
An already solid CB corps who underperformed last year in part due to lack of great safety support. With Jairus Byrd now in the mix, Cromartie and a quickly developing Dee Milliner can focus on holding their guys down.
The safeties all the sudden have both depth and pop with the addition of Jairus Byrd which is money well spent. Jets Defense will see a rise in turnovers forced.