NY Jets: More offensive playmakers needed for 2016

Dec 14, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphin running back Lamar Miller heads to the end zone for a second quarter touchdown as New York Giants safety Cooper Taylor (right0 gets beat on the play at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphin running back Lamar Miller heads to the end zone for a second quarter touchdown as New York Giants safety Cooper Taylor (right0 gets beat on the play at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets and their offense ranked anywhere from the 10th to the 13th best in the NFL in all offensive categories. Despite their success, more offensive playmakers are needed for the start of the 2016 season.

2015 wasn’t the year for the Jets but what a thriller the season was. We saw a team that started off 4-1, plummet to 5-5 and then regain their composure for an exciting five-game winning streak. Unfortunately, the hearts of Jet fans everywhere were shattered once again following their Week 17 defeat by the Buffalo Bills, which ultimately ended their hopes of continuing their momentum into the NFL Playoffs.

However, we have now officially entered the offseason which means the 2015 season is now behind us. The Jets will now shift their focus towards re-signing their key free agents which they have a plethora of. Let’s focus on the offensive side of the ball. Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley and Ryan Fitzpatrick are the most notable offensive free agents for the Jets. Despite the teams success on the offensive side of the ball, more playmakers are needed if the team wishes to secure a playoff spot in 2016.

It’s a safe scratch to ignore the quarterback vacancy as the Jets are highly expected to re-sign Fitzpatrick to a two to three year contract. However, if for some reason the team allowed Fitzpatrick to walk, guys such as Drew Stanton and Brock Osweiler could potentially be available. The front office of the Jets and even Fitzpatrick himself have expressed mutual interest in keeping the veteran in New York as the odds of him signing with another team is highly unlikely.

More from The Jet Press

Just about the entire Jets’ back field are free agents, Ridley, Ivory and Powell, will all be looking for brand new contracts but which one will be dressing in green and white in 2016?

You can make arguments as to whether Ivory or Powell should be re-signed if you had to choose only one. Ivory has made noticeable strides during his three seasons with Gang Green, the young running back had a career year with 1,070 rushing yards in 2015.

Powell has tremendous potential and usually takes over the running back duties once Ivory suffers some sort of set back due to injuries. Powell provides speed while Ivory provides the ability to power through tackles and fight for extra yards, which unfortunately results in the half back suffering some sort of injury. Notable running backs that could be available for the Jets are Matt Forte, Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Lamar Miller.

The Jets should also look to address the tight end position during free agency. The Jets’ offense barely featured a tight end in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s scheme, primarily because the team didn’t have one worth featuring. Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland were the two most featured tight ends the Jets had in 2015. According to NFL.com, between both Davis and Cumberland, they combined for a total of eight receptions for 95-yards and one touchdown.

Second-year tight end Jace Amaro unfortunately sat out the entire season due to a torn labrum which he suffered before the start of the season. Notable free agent tight ends the Jets could possibly target are Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Dwayne Allen and Ben Watson.

The Jets’ offensive line is aging, the team must start building their line with young, talented athletes ready to take over long-term. The tackle positions are filled but it may become an area of need with the price tags attached to lineman such as Breno Giacomini and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Ferguson’s age continues to increase while his performance continues to steadily decline.

Nick Mangold continues to perform at a Pro Bowl level at center while James Carpenter at the guard position is still under contract for the next three seasons. logically, it’s wise to keep both Giacomini and Ferguson for 2016 rather than having one become a possible salary cap casualty, both are still serviceable and durable but it would be nice to get younger at the tackle position. Notable free agents are Alex Boone, Kelvin Beachum, Mike Adams and Ramon Foster.

Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) snaps the ball against the New York Giants during overtime at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Giants 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s easy to point out where the areas of needs are for the Jets and who they should consider signing, re-signing and drafting, pointing out where the funds are to afford these free agents or prospects is not so easy.

Gotham currently has a cap space of $14,185,149 according to TurnOnTheJets.com, this number could potentially increase in to the mid 20s if the front office decides to let go of some big contracts and restructure others. Some names to keep an eye on for potential cap casualties are Antonio Cromartie (an $8 million cap hit), Jeremy Kerley ($3.1 million) and Cumberland ($1.9 million).

The deals of Ferguson and Mangold could be reworked to free up cap space as well, Mangold is due $8.6 million while Ferguson is due $14.1 million. If Ferguson’s deal is reworked and the team drafts or signs another tackle, Giacomini, who is due $5.1 million, could become a potential cap casualty.

Retaining our key free agents and signing/drafting their superiors will not be easy. The Jets are expected to re-sign players such as Fitzpatrick and possibly work on a long-term deal with defensive lineman Damon Harrison. The team is also expected to franchise tag Muhammad Wilkerson and hand guys such as Calvin Pace their walking papers.

Overall, don’t expect the Jets to be as active in free agency as they were last year obviously, but look for them to retain the free agents they can afford while restructuring big contracts to free up cap space to sign other vital free agents that can make an immediate impact on the team for the start of the 2016 season.

More jets: Top 7 quarterbacks Jets should target in 2016 NFL Draft

Take a deep breath Jets nation and just R-E-L-A-X, as Aaron Rodgers would say. The Jets are moving in the right direction under Todd Bowles and will continue to achieve tremendous success as the years go by.