NY Jets: Top 5 positions they must address in free agency

Nov 8, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

Nov 8, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets have several positions they must address via this year’s free agency period to continue their momentum of 2015.

Last season, the Jets went 10-6 and put up a memorable year for fans everywhere. Considered a success compared to their 4-12 season the year before, the Jets fought hard but ultimately fell short when it came to delivering one last victory that would have earned a Wild Card berth in their season finale loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Now that the NFL season is officially over, all teams must now head back into their facilities to prepare for a long offseason ahead. From deciding what to do about their franchise tag, making smart free agency moves and the eventual 2016 NFL Draft, the Jets have a lot of work cut out for them.

Here are the top five positions they must address come free agency.

Next: 5. Running back

Dec 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) stiff arms Atlanta Falcons strong safety Kemal Ishmael (36) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay defeated Atlanta 23-19. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Running back

There is no guarantee that Chris Ivory or even Bilal Powell return to the Jets for 2016. Both are eligible free agents as something tells me Ivory will more than likely bolt via free agency due to the big money contract many teams will offer him based on his big season last year.

Powell will more than likely be re-signed as he was instrumental in the Jets’ late season success with how he was able to be effective in their passing game. With that being said, the Jets will be in the market for a premier running back.

Players like Lamar Miller, Doug Martin and perhaps even at the right price, Matt Forte, could all be attractive options for the Jets. They will need to bring in a No. 1 running back that is durable and consistent in being a true workhorse out of the backfield.

The Jets are still built as a ground and pound kind of team and will no doubt want to continue their efforts in establishing the run effectively come next season.

Next: 4. Offensive Line

Nov 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Arizona Cardinals guard Ted Larsen (62) blocks against the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

4. Offensive Line

Make no mistake about, the Jets could use an upgrade on their offensive line. With aging players, it’s expected general manager Mike Maccagnan will more than likely keep the Jets’ offensive line relatively intact for next season.

However, with the possible retirement of Willie Colon and needing to add quality depth, it makes sense for the Jets to bolster their offensive line via free agency. Possible free agents like guards Ted Larsen, Brandon Brooks and even Mitchell Schwartz would infuse talented youth right off the bat.

Since the Jets will more than likely have some new faces at running back next season, it’s also a good time to add some as well to their offensive line. Veterans like Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are only getting older so it’s good to start adding talent under them ready to step in and take care of business.

To win plenty of football games is ultimately about winning the battle of the trenches. The Jets would be wise to address their needs on their offensive line in both free agency and the upcoming draft.

Next: 3. Wide receiver

Oct 18, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) during the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

3. Wide receiver

Could a reunion happen on the Jets should they bring in wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to sync up again with his old partner in crime, Brandon Marshall? I don’t think it’ll happen but I’ve seen some crazy moves during the free agency period so never say never.

Realistically, the Jets need to add some quality depth at wide receiver for next season to avoid depending too much on both Marshall and Eric Decker to handle the bulk of the Jets’ offensive production. To add another explosive threat at wide receiver will only push the envelope further in 2016.

Possible free agents like Jeffery, Rod Streater or even Mohamed Sanu would be nice additions at wide receiver. Of course the dream acquisition would be Jeffery but something tells me his price tag will be relatively high should he hit free agency.

With the way the NFL is a passing league these days, it’s always a good idea to stock up on offensive weapons to keep up with the best of them.

Next: 2. Linebacker

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) rushes against Carolina Panthers tackle Mike Remmers (74) in the second quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi

2. Linebacker

Speaking of another dream pick, can you imagine the message the Jets would send if they were able to somehow, someway, work out something to bring linebacker Von Miller into the city that never sleeps? If there is anything I know about Maccagnan, he has an eye for talent and will no doubt make the right decisions to put the Jets in a good position to be able to make some key moves via free agency.

While I wish the Jets could be in a financial position to sign Miller, I think due to his unreal Super Bowl 50 performance, his asking price is going to be through the roof. It also depends on what kind of salary cap casualties/restructuring the Jets do between now and free agency to get a good idea on how much money they’ll have to play with to sign some free agents.

Due to an aging linebacker corps featuring David Harris and Calvin Pace, the Jets need a younger impact player that can also add more to their overall pass rush. Notable free agent eligible players like Michael Neal, Aldon Smith and Rolando McClain would be exactly what the Jets need to infuse into their defense.

Similar to their needs on their offensive line, this is also a major area of opportunity for the Jets to upgrade. They should add a top free agent linebacker as well as draft another this year.

Next: 1. Kickoff/Punt returner

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Norwood (11) returns a punt against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi

1. Kickoff/Punt returner

The Jets had one of the worst special team units in the NFL. They didn’t even score a touchdown on kickoff or punt returners at all last season as they didn’t have a true threat that could take it to the house. It’s imperative they bring in a kickoff/punt returner that can finally do more than call for a fair catch the majority of the time.

If the Jets had a legitimate special teams kickoff/punt returner, that could have been a difference maker in a few games they lost due to terrible field positioning. Special teams is a huge part of the game and to overlook its importance isn’t a good thing to do.

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Eligible free agents that are keen kickoff/punt returners are Jordan Norwood and Kaelin Clay. Both players wouldn’t command a ton of money and would also provide depth at wide receiver.

Regardless, the Jets would be wise to stock up on a few wide receivers between free agency and the draft to ensure they have plenty of options when it comes to a quality return specialist heading into next season.