For the NY Jets, re-signing running back Chris Ivory isn’t a necessity since he can easily be replaced via free agency or the draft.
The Jets have a few significant in-house free agents hitting the market this offseason and one of them happens to be running back Chris Ivory. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Gang Green currently has about $18 million in cap space. Assuming the team makes the right cuts and contract restructures, they could potentially put themselves near $40 million. However, a lot of that money will go towards retaining Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison, which means Ivory could very well find himself on a different roster this spring.
What also makes this situation interesting is that it doesn’t even seem to be entirely financially based. Ivory was given the ball a combined 30 times in the final three contests losing a majority of his snaps to Stevan Ridley. Bilal Powell carried the ball a bit as well, although he was predominately utilized in pass-catching situations on third downs.
The real head-scratcher is Ivory’s mere six carries in the Week 17 finale against the Buffalo Bills. The Tiffin product was able to rip a 58-yard run while tacking on another 23 yards to finish with 81 on the day. Powell was inactive and the only other back on the roster was Stevan Ridley, so a lot of eyebrows were raised when Ivory wasn’t touching the ball in the biggest game of the year.
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Now, everyone is left wondering if the Jets had already moved on from Ivory.
All three running backs are hitting the market and it could be that general manager Mike Maccagnan wants a new cast, but New York did find a lot of their success on offense through receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The two combined for 2,529 yards and 26 touchdowns to make team history with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gang Green’s passing attack became one of a kind and something they can definitely lean on in years ahead.
On top of that, Ivory will be turning 28 in March and at that age you see many running backs start to fade out of their prime. A lot of running backs don’t run as hard at that point in their career and with a guy who runs as hard as Ivory, that trend can certainly become apparent. However, despite his age, it’s very hard to overlook the 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns he accumulated especially since he was used poorly at times.
If the Jets do choose to move on from the veteran, some of the younger guys they can target in free agency are Ronnie Hillman, Antonio Andrews and Charcandrick West. Each of the three can pound the ball 20+ times and make an impact in the passing game. The draft also holds plenty of talent New York could use in the backfield, but rebuilding the right side of the offensive line should be a top priority for the front office given their late-season struggles.
Overall, Ivory is not a ‘necessity’ for a Jets’ playoff bid in 2016, but Maccagnan needs to add a feature back whether it’s him or someone else.