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NY Jets: Asset Management

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The New York Jets have a number of players who will become unrestricted free agents in 2017, including Geno Smith, Ben Ijalana, Brian Winters and Bruce Carter, among others.  Those players can no longer be traded, as the 2016 trade deadline has already passed.  Those players also will not bring back compensatory draft picks, as the Jets will likely be active participants in the 2017 free agent market, and not many Jets free agents will command much if they sign with other teams.  In essence either the Jets 2017 free agents will be re-signed by the Jets or they will be lost without any compensation.

That isn't the best way for a team to manage its assets.  Free agents that have value on the open market can be and should be carefully planned so that the guys a team chooses not to re-sign can either be traded for something or, if the team is not an active participant in the free agent market, they can be let go for compensatory draft picks.

That brings us to the 2018 Jets unrestricted free agent class. How can these assets be managed to maximize their value to the Jets?

Here are the Jets unrestricted free agents for 2018:

Of the players listed, the only ones with any likely trade value are Sheldon Richardson, Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, and possibly David Harris and Ryan Clady.  Although technically the Jets will have from March 9, 2017 through November 1, 2017 to trade any of these players, in reality the best opportunity to trade them exists from March 9 through April 27, 2017, when the 2017 NFL draft starts.  Much of the fanbase is of the mindset to just cut most of these players and clear cap space to sign free agents, but if you trade them, even for a 7th round pick, you clear cap space and also get draft picks to build your team.  The downside is that if you hang onto too many of these guys too long it costs you the cap space you need to sign other players in free agency.  Thus it becomes a balancing act. What is the value of the additional draft picks you might obtain, versus the cost of losing the opportunity to sign premium free agents early in free agency?

Good teams constantly plan for this, considering when to trade players, when to be active in free agency, and when to let guys go and stay away from free agency in order to generate compensatory picks. Other than the 2014 draft under John Idzik the Jets have rarely generated many or any compensatory picks and have rarely traded away future free agents to generate draft picks. That has cost the Jets in that they have consistently had fewer than average selections in drafts.

What would you do?  Would you just cut all the players you don't intend to re-sign and use the cap space to go on a free agent spending spree?  Would you forego much of the early free agency frenzy for the top guys in favor of trying to trade as many players as you could for draft picks, and hopefully generating additional compensatory picks for the guys you can't trade?  Would you prioritize 2017 free agency, or rebuilding through as many draft picks as you can get?

The Jets have made it clear for years they favor making a splash in free agency over managing trade assets to maximize draft picks.  It hasn't worked so well. Maybe it's time to try a new tactic. What do you think?