Now that the off-season has begun, the Jets have a lot of work to do. They must get ready for the NFL Combine, visits and regional combines, and finally the NFL Draft. Mike Maccagnan and his crew have to also prepare themselves for their first Free Agency period together. Where are the Jets going to go there? We will find out soon enough.
But, the Jets have to deal with their own roster as well. The Jets have players with expiring, or near expiring contracts. We have talked about their first priority, getting Muhammad Wilkerson signed to a long-term deal. The Jets cannot leave any possibility of Wilkerson being anywhere else but here. However, there is a priority on the other side of the football as well. The Jets have a big bruising running back that came over two years ago, to the delight of Jets fans. This is another guy that cannot leave, and his name is Chris Ivory.
Chris Ivory came in here two years ago, and showed what he could do as a lead back. The Jets have used a committee, as do most teams these days, but Ivory has been the leader of that group. He has posted two straight seasons of over 800 yards rushing to lead the team each year, and has upped his touchdown total from three in 2013 to six last season. Consistency has been the hallmark of Ivory’s tenure with the Jets to date, and there is no reason to think that it won’t continue.
Ivory is the best back the Jets have, and it is not really close. Chris Johnson is not likely to be back next season, and with good reason. Aside from a few glimpses during last season, Johnson had clearly lost a step. He is not the same back that he was back in his days with the Titans. A lot of you love Bilal Powell. He is a nice player, does well in all aspects of the game. But is Powell a dominant runner? We don’t really have any evidence of it. He’s a nice change, he can make a catch out of the backfield, and prove as a great changeup to Ivory. But he is not Chris Ivory, sorry guys.
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Ivory is also 26 years old, a good four years away from that magic age of 30, where everyone starts to get worried about running backs. He also doesn’t make a great deal of money, averaging $2 million per year over his current contract. At this point, he might not take a huge raise to keep around. He hasn’t rushed for 1,000 yards yet, but should he next year, he would be in line for a huge payday. If the Jets could do it now, they might get an extension out of him for $5 million-ish per year, making Ivory still reasonably priced, as he moves into the prime of his career.
The Jets would be wise to sign Chris Ivory to a long-term deal now. It could cost them a lot more if they wait until the end of the 2015 season.