With NFL free agency grinding on and most of the choice players already signed, the Jets are now picking through the leftovers, searching for some bargains. Herewith are a few suggestions.
Keep in mind that we are searching through the bargain bin here. Almost by definition these players have warts. There's a reason most of them have yet to be signed. My thoughts here are to try to find some guys who are still young(ish), who have clear physical talent and some upside, who fill a hole, and who will be available for very little in cap space. Here we go.
Denard Robinson, RB. Age on opening day of the 2017 season: 26 (a few weeks away from 27). Robinson is an athletic freak. He was a college quarterback at Michigan who was much more effective running the ball than passing it and once ran for 1700+ yards as a quarterback in college. He ran a scorching 4.43 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine. Robinson is not big for a running back, at 5' 11", 200 pounds. He probably will never be a bell cow back. 158 is the most touches he's ever had in a season in the NFL. Robinson would slot in as a third running back behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. He has value as a runner, as a receiver and as a gadget player. As a college quarterback he is a triple threat on offense and if defenses don't respect his throwing he could occasionally give you a big play passing the ball on an option play. Robinson's best assets are speed and quickness in the open field. He's averaged a decent 4.0 yards per carry and 6.6 yards per reception. Robinson also has some experience on special teams, having returned seven kickoffs for a 22 yard average. Find ways to get this guy the ball in space and he has some big play potential. His biggest weakness is ball security, having fumbled eight times in four NFL seasons. Robinson is probably available for something close to an NFL minimum salary.
Dexter McCluster, RB/WR/PR. Age on opening day of the 2017 season: just turned 28. Don't like Robinson? McCluster's another gadget player with some value. He is tiny at 5' 9", 165 pounds, and cannot be expected to hold up to a full workload. However, McCluster has been effective for years in a part time role. He is a very good punt returner, having returned 133 punts for a 10.4 yard average in his career. McCluster also has experience returning kicks, albeit at a much less productive level, with 74 returns for a 21 yard average. In addition to special teams work McCluster has averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 250 career rushes, and 8.4 yards per catch on 236 career receptions. McCluster, like Robinson, has a ball security issue, with 13 fumbles in seven NFL seasons. While neither Robinson's nor McCluster's fumble numbers might seem excessive, keep in mind these are part time players with limited touches. They both fumble the ball more than an average back. McCluster should also be available for something close to the veteran's minimum.
Jon Bostic, ILB. Age on opening day of the 2017 season: 26. Jon Bostic has had the kind of star-crossed career that makes him an intriguing possibility for a bargain basement find. He was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Bears in 2013 after starring at the University of Florida. Bostic was one of the stars of the NFL Combine among the linebackers, with top 5 marks in the 40 yard dash, three cone shuttle and 20 yard shuttle. Bostic has excellent speed and quickness for a linebacker and is an aggressive, hard hitting player with some decent coverage and pass rushing ability. Bostic was coming into his own in Chicago by his second year, recording 83 tackles in 679 snaps in 2014. Then Chicago changed defensive schemes in 2015 and began their fire sale, and Bostic found himself on the outside looking in. The New England Patriots traded for Bostic in 2015, but Bostic was slowed early on by an ankle injury and never really found his niche with New England, ending up playing mostly on special teams. The Patriots traded Bostic to the Detroit Lions in 2016, but Bostic broke his foot and spent the year on injured reserve. Bostic is now a free agent. He is two years removed from a pretty good performance as a partial year starter in Chicago. Bostic has excellent athletic measurables and is a very hard hitter. At a minimum Bostic would be an immediate and substantial upgrade in terms of speed, quickness and pass coverage ability as a reserve inside linebacker, with upside to possibly reclaim a role as a starter in place of David Harris. Bostic also has the ability and experience to play some outside linebacker in a pinch. Bostic's major downsides are his spotty health history and a tendency to go for the kill shot, resulting in penalties. Bostic is unlikely to be very expensive after barely seeing the field the last two years. Sign him to a three year, incentive laden contract and he could make decent money if he pans out while allowing the Jets to escape with little dead money if he doesn't. Pair him with a guy like Gerald Hodges and the two of them could possibly be brought in for less money than David Harris currently counts under the cap by himself, while substantially upgrading team speed, pass coverage ability, youth and depth at the linebacker position.
Those are three of my suggestions from the bargain bin. How about you? Would you sign any of these players? Do you have any other suggestions for free agent signings at bargain basement prices? Let us know in the comments.