The NY Jets entered the 2015 season with one of the easiest schedules in the NFL and once again, fell short of making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. With the season over, the front office will shift their attention towards the teams free agents.
The Jets had a remarkable season under rookie head coach Todd Bowles and first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan. These two men turned a 4-12 laughable and over looked team into a 10-win, dangerous football franchise. Unfortunately, the Jets have once again missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season after suffering a 22-17 loss to Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.
With the 2015 season officially over for the Jets, it’s time for the front office to shift their attention towards re-signing the teams key free agents. The Jets have a plethora of free agents this year, the list ranges from defensive players such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Demario Davis and Damon Harrison to offensive players such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Willie Colon, Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, Bilal Powell and many others. With the offseason officially starting for the Jets following their season-ending loss, the big question is, which key free agents will they retain for the franchises future?
I would love nothing more than to re-sign all of our free agents since each of them contributed to the team’s success in their own ways. However, its financially impossible to re-sign them all. Wilkerson will not come cheap as the Jets may have to break the bank a bit to re-sign the big defensive end as he not only had his best season of his career in 2015 with 12 sacks, but will most likely seek JJ Watt type of money.
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Therefore, the Jets will look to most likely re-sign other key players who will not cost the team an arm and a leg. The teams arguably best defensive player will undergo surgery to repair his right broken fibula as Wilkerson could miss a decent chunk of the off-season for the Jets.
I don’t see the team allowing him to walk away as my fear is that he will land with the Buffalo Bills. However, I don’t see that happening. Maccagnan and Wilkerson’s agent will enter the off-season with contract discussions and if no deal is reached right away, I believe the star defensive end will receive the franchise tag by the Jets. Big Mo should command a contract in the range of 6-years, $80-$100 million.
The Jets’ offense is aging as the team should look to retain their young free agents such as Ivory and Powell. The exception in my opinion is Fitzpatrick who recorded not only a career year but one of the best quarterback performances the Jets have had since guys such as Chad Pennington and Vinny Testaverde. Fitzpatrick recorded 31 touchdowns (a franchise record) and led his team to a 10-win season, the last time the Jets have won double-digit games was back in 2010.
One day after throwing three fourth quarter interceptions, the 11-year veteran quarterback received an endorsement from Bowles. Here is what he said courtesy of the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
“If he comes back, he’ll be the starter,” Bowles added, saying the poor finish “can’t tarnish” what Fitzpatrick accomplished.
The free agent quarterback will seek a similar contract that Josh McCown received before the start of the 2015 season, somewhere in the area of a three-year deal. Fitzpatrick recorded 3,724 yards for 31 touchdowns, a completion percentage of 60.8% and also reeled in 258 rushing yards for two touchdowns.
Ivory and Powell entered the season being projected as a silent but deadly running back duo. Ivory started off the regular season with flare, recording multiple 100-yard rushing games. The 27-year old free agent was on track to be arguably the league’s top rusher until injuries caused the half back to develop into a lingering slump. Ivory finished the regular season with 1,070 rushing yards on 247 attempts with seven rushing touchdowns.
No one knows just how deadly Ivory truly could have been if he was fully healthy for the entire season, never the less, the free agent running back could command a three or four-year deal. Whether the Jets chose to re-sign Ivory is up in the air, currently, all signs are pointing more towards Powell, as his snaps increased once Bowles’ patience towards Ivory’s lack of consistency began to thin.
Other notable free agents are Davis, Harrison, Colon, Ridley, Antonio Allen and more. If the price is right, the Jets could retain Davis and Harrison. Snacks is a solid and reliable defensive tackle who signed a one-year deal during the off-season, hopefully the team chooses to once again bring him back as their starter.
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis (56) celebrates after a sack against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Titans 30-8. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Davis has excelled and more as a former third-round draft pick during his career with the Jets. However, the linebacker has struggled mightily when dropping back in coverage. The Jets’ offensive line was one of the better lines in the NFL this season but is noticeably aging. I don’t see Colon returning to the Jets as they should look to add some youth to their line next season. The 32-year old guard will most likely receive his walking papers.
Overall, this season besides missing the playoffs was nothing short of a success. NFL and team franchise records were broken in 2015, and most importantly, the Jets have finally developed a steady chemistry which I believe will carry over into the 2016 season.
Right now, the Jets have to decide which free agents will return and which ones will receive a pink slip. Keep your heads up Jets Nation, we’re not in the playoffs but we’re getting much better. Our beloved Jets have finally found the missing pieces needed in Bowles and Maccagnan to help rebuild this franchise.
I have confidence that this organization will retain the necessary free agents that will help this franchise that we’ve all grown to love achieve the utmost success for years to come. Hopefully the pieces fall into place so the Jets can continue building the team towards the right direction.