Attack Free Agency – The Jets have holes at backup quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, guard, backup tackle, backup center, outside linebacker, backup inside linebacker, cornerback, and free safety. The most important are a veteran backup quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, corner and free safety.
The free agent quarterbacks via kffl.com (before roster cuts) are Matt Cassel, Matt Flynn, Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Tavaris Jackson, Josh McCown, Michael Vick and Colt McCoy. I would eliminate Freeman and McCoy because they aren’t any good. The rest have some level of ability and starting experience and could be an alternative if Geno Smith struggled or got injured. Michael Vick is obviously the best quarterback on the list but he should be in high demand and could get a starting job.
The wide receiver group has a bit more talent highlighted by Anquan Boldin, Kenny Britt, Riley Cooper (ties to Mornhinweg), Cotchery, Eric Decker, Andrew Hawkins (RFA), Darius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Jones, James Jones, Brandon LaFell (RFA), Jeremy Maclin (ties to Mornhinweg), Dexter McCluster, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders and Golden Tate (ties to Idzik). The best of that group are Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin, James Jones, and Decker. After Nicks’ awful year he could be had for cheap and paired with another receiver as a number two wideout. Brandon LaFell is a very interesting option although he is an RFA but could be had in a trade if the Panthers make a run at Nicks.
The options at tight end are thin with Jimmy Graham leading the bunch but despite the Saints being in cap hell they will do everything possible to keep Graham. Greg Olson of the Panthers and Scott Chandler of the Bills are good receiving tight ends that are a big part of both offenses and it would be surprising if they made it to the free agent market. Jermichael Finley was a player that Idzik targeted last year but a near career-ending injury means he is a huge risk and cannot be a player to be relied on. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta of the Ravens are both free agents and the Ravens might only be able to keep one. Brandon Myers had an excellent year with the Raiders two years ago and a decent year with a bad Giants team and could help here. Brandon Pettigrew has a lot of talent but has been inconsistent his whole career. Tony Gonzalez is supposed to retire again and Dustin Keller is coming off of a major injury.
The best of the cornerback market are Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes, Captain Munnerlyn, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Aqib Talib, Charles Tillman and Alterraun Verner. All of those players except Charles Tillman are under 30 and would be an upgrade over the way Antonio Cromartie played this year. How many of those players actually make it to the market is the big question mark. Other players like Rashean Mathis, Drayton Florence, Richard Marshall and Sam Shields are also out there. The challenge will be to see what the market rate is because it was about $5 million last year and to determine how you think Antonio Cromartie will play next year and what his value is compared to available replacements.
The safety market starts with Jarius Byrd and TJ Ward at the top. Byrd is a playmaker the Jets have lacked at the position since Kerry Rhodes and his signing would weaken division rival Buffalo and Ward is an emerging talent that can certainly help a position of weakness. Other options include Ryan Clark, Quintin Mikell, Donte Whitner, and Quentin Demps. Former Jets Jim Leonhard and James Ihedigbo are also available.