NY Jets: Analyzing top 10 offensive free agents
Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs with the ball during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Patriots 26-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets have several marquee free agents on the offensive side of the football that could hit free agency. Which ones should they keep or trash?
The Jets currently sit at approximately $18 million in cap room, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. With contract restructures on the horizon for Antonio Cromartie as well as D’Brickashaw Ferguson and cuts for multiple players, Gang Green could bring their space close to $40 million.
Unfortunately, general manager Mike Maccagnan cannot cannonball into the free agency pool like he did last spring. This off-season, money will be spent on keeping players within the organization. A chunk of the guys on the roster have that dreaded John Idzik handprint on them, so they will be taken care of accordingly by Maccagnan.
New York does have big pieces on defense hitting the market in March, but let’s take a look at the offense first. The offense is still the weaker side of the ball for Todd Bowles‘ group, therefore it will be very interesting to see whether ‘Magic Mike’ keeps or trashes certain players.
Next: 10. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the first half of their game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
10. Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Jets made the right move trading for the veteran this past off-season. Fitzpatrick strung together one of the best years in New York passing history, pretty much coming within 100 yards of the great Joe Namath‘s record. If he hadn’t gotten hurt in the Week 8 matchup in Oakland, ‘Fitz’ would’ve easily eclipsed Namath’s 4,007 mark for passing yards in a season.
This one should be a no-brainer for Gang Green. Unless Maccagnan has plans of drafting yet another quarterback or starting Bryce Petty, Fitzpatrick should be back with the team. He won’t ask for a fortune, based on the Week 17 meltdown, but getting the Harvard graduate for cheap won’t be easy. He’s one of the best quarterbacks the Jets could have at the moment, and they need him more than he needs them.
Next: 9. Chris Ivory
Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) runs the ball against the New York Giants during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
9. Chris Ivory
Even though things fell apart rather quickly for the Tiffin product at the end of the season, he still gave New York huge production in the backfield. He was the first Jets 1,000-yard rusher since Shonn Greene back in the 2012-13 campaign and eight touchdowns (one receiving) is no joke either. It’s tough to find a guy who runs as hard as Ivory does, so the Jets need to begin talks with him quickly.
At 27 years of age, Gang Green has their guy as long as the money is appropriate. Ivory is simply a workhorse who can produce when he’s healthy and fed the ball a good amount of times. A short-term deal isn’t likely since he’s in his prime, therefore you can expect the Jets to go multi-year in their offer. Overall, Fitzpatrick and Ivory are essentially the two guys New York needs to hold most of their focus on offensively.
Next: 8. Bilal Powell
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) celebrates his touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
8. Bilal Powell
This one is interesting. Powell emerged at the end of the year as a receiving back and showed he can make an impact in Chan Gailey’s offense. Powell may not have the power that Ivory has, but he can fight for extra yards and hold onto the football extremely well. They certainly missed his presence in the season finale. However, the former 2011 fourth-rounder is being linked to Rex Ryan and the Bills once again.
What helps the Jets is the fact that Buffalo already has a fairly crowded backfield. LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee and Boobie Dixon are all under contract in 2016. With that being said, it’s hard to imagine any legitimate contenders in the Powell race besides New York. Although, if a team ridiculously overpays him for some reason, then Maccagnan should let him walk. Otherwise, re-sign the man.
Next: 7. Stevan Ridley
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets running back Stevan Ridley (22) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Corbin Bryant (97) pursues during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The Ridley experiment did not work out how the Jets had planned it would in the spring. The ex-Patriot opened the season on the PUP list and took forever to get himself involved in the offense in even the slightest way possible. Ridley finished the year with a mere 90 yards on 36 carries while hauling in four passes for -2 yards.
In a nutshell, the Jets can do much better than Ridley this off-season. Whether it’s drafting a speed back or another guy similar to Powell, New York cannot afford to have a drive-staller in the rotation. Now Ridley isn’t bad by any means, but the Jets don’t need another back like him. He’s exactly like Ivory, minus the explosiveness of course.
Next: 6. Chris Owusu
Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu (17) during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
6. Chris Owusu
Owusu was on and off the Jets’ roster due to injuries. In the first few weeks, he made an impact as the slot receiver when most people didn’t even understand why he was out there. However, when Quincy Enunwa began to emerge, he was nowhere to be found.
The Stanford graduate does bring speed to the table as a potential kick returner, but the Jets refuse to put him back there for some reason. Keeping him as a camp body wouldn’t hurt the team’s cap space by any means, but Owusu isn’t the type of player New York should keep on a deal more than one year on the league-minimum salary.
Next: 5. Kenbrell Thompkins
Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (10) is chased by Dallas Cowboys free safety Byron Jones (31) after making a catch in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. New York won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Thompkins was a pleasant surprise for the Jets’ receiving core this season. As the fourth receiver on the depth chart, the ex-Patriot caught 17 passes for 165 yards in the seven games he played. Thompkins made several huge plays downfield for Gang Green and he was one catch away from sending them to the postseason.
The right thing for the Jets to do would be to hold onto him for at least one more year. He did only catch 50% of the balls thrown his way, but he filled the role that Devin Smith failed to play in the second half of the season. If Maccagnan liked what he saw, he could honestly go with a multi-year deal. Nonetheless, keeping him is definitely the right move.
Next: 4. Kellen Davis
November 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets tight end Kellen Davis (47) scores a touchdown against Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
4. Kellen Davis
There really isn’t much to say about Davis or the position at all for that matter. The Jets rarely used the tight ends in their spread offense. The only times they used the tight end were in blocking situations or when they dumped the ball in the flats to Jeff Cumberland once every few games.
Unless New York really likes what Davis brings to the table as a blocker, there isn’t any point in keeping him. Enunwa, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are all great blocking receivers. Since Jace Amaro is coming back next season along with potentially Zach Sudfeld, it may be best for the Jets to move on from the 30-year old Davis.
Next: 3. Zach Sudfeld
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end Zach Sudfeld (44) runs a fake punt against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
3. Zach Sudfeld
Sudfeld may not be used often if Gang Green chooses to bring him back on a one-year deal, but he’s a better option than Davis and Cumberland at this point. He can catch passes if need be as well as block efficiently on offense and special teams. Davis provides close to nothing in the passing game while Cumberland isn’t much of a blocker.
He isn’t necessarily the most talented tight end, but Sudfeld can provide the Jets with what they want. It may not be at an elite Rob Gronkowski-esque level, but he can do it all. New York would be smart to bring him back on a one-year deal and at least let him compete in camp with the likes of Amaro, Wes Saxton and possibly Brandon Bostick.
Next: 2. Ben Ijalana
Aug 16, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Ben Ijalana (71) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
2. Ben Ijalana
The Jets do have a tiny choice to make with Ijalana. He’s backed up Ferguson for three seasons now, and ‘Brick’ is beginning to fall off from where he used to be. However, it’s highly unlikely that Ijalana steps in as the starter given his minimal experience. Right now, it could depend on if the Jets choose to grab a tackle when the draft comes around in late April.
Breno Giacomini also has an impact on Ijalana’s fate. If New York chooses to cut the veteran, then Ijalana could make the roster as a backup for Ferguson yet again. Brent Qvale is the only other tackle on the team, so Maccagnan will most likely re-sign Ijalana for depth purposes.
Next: 1. Willie Colon
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14), guard Willie Colon (66) and tackle Breno Giacomini (68) celebrate a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
1. Willie Colon
This decision will be the easiest of them all for Maccagnan. Over the course of his career, Colon has showed he cannot stay heathy or disciplined when he’s on the field. He’s produced well for the Jets in the pass blocking department, although the run blocking and penalties have been abominable.
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As of now, the Jets seem comfortable with James Carpenter and Brian Winters as their starters. They can definitely find themselves an upgrade for Winters, but Colon is clearly not that guy. Gang Green will have enough cap space if they cut and restructure the right players, so finding a decent guard won’t be too challenging. It’s just time to move on from Colon.