New York Jets: Top three initiatives they must do before draft

Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Jets, the 2016 NFL Draft will be here in no time. Here are the top three initiative they must do before heading into draft weekend.

The Jets have had yet another successful offseason in which they have acquired more talent to add to an already stacked roster. General manager Mike Maccagnan made sure that anyone Gang Green let walk would be replaced. Chris Ivory was replaced with Matt Forte, Damon Harrison was replaced with Steve McLendon and Jarvis Jenkins, and Khiry Robinson should make up for the recent departure of Stevan Ridley. However, despite all of the moves, the team still has a few more holes to fill.

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No one has forgotten about the current void at the quarterback position by any means. Colin Kaepernick, Josh McCown, Brian Hoyer, Mike Glennon…just about all of them have been rumored to be options via trade.

Draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. have also included the possibility that New York could go with Paxton Lynch 20th overall if he is available. The Jets are in great shape, but they still have some work cut out for themselves.

Here are the top three initiatives they must take care of before Day 1 of the draft.

Next: 3. Do not trade Muhammad Wilkerson

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates his sack of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17)(not shown) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

3. Do not trade Muhammad Wilkerson

The one decision that can ruin everything for Gang Green would be moving defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. After more weeks of trying to strike a deal, it seems as if Jets have swung and missed for the second offseason in a row in trying to extend the All-Pro.

To be honest, you could even say three due to the fact that John Idzik left $21 million in cap room on the table in 2014. Although, this does not mean they should go ahead and trade him like they did with Darrelle Revis in 2013.

Fortunately for New York, this situation is not like the Revis one at all. Wilkerson is not holding out and he just received the franchise tag (which he has yet to sign). If the two sides cannot agree on something, they still have next offseason to try one last time.

This method is the one that can work best for the Jets. Cap space was tight this year, however next spring they can make plenty of cuts and restructures to clear up enough room. It may be a gamble, but an extra year out of arguably their best defender and a third-round compensatory pick is not the end of the world if he walks.

Next: 2. Address the offensive tackle situation

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets tackle Breno Giacomini (68) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

2. Address the offensive tackle situation

The Jets have a blatant dilemma at offensive tackle. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini are simply making way too much for guys who are in the later stages of their careers. On top of that, both rank towards the bottom of the starting tackles on Pro Football Focus, so they are not producing well either.

If New York were to straight up cut Ferguson, it would save about $9 million. If they were to cut Giacomini, it would save $3.9 million. That money could help lock up Wilkerson or Ryan Fitzpatrick on a long-term contract making either of these moves possibilities.

The Jets would be hard pressed to part ways with both of them which makes a restructure for Ferguson and a pink slip for Giacomini the best option. ‘Brick’ has been a valuable piece to the franchise ever since he was drafted in 2006 and cutting him would not be easy.

If the team were to move on from him, they would lose a leader and dig a hole on the offensive line despite his dip in production. Cutting Giacomini would save money and give them the ability to upgrade in the draft. All we know is that New York needs cap space and these two can create a lot of it.

Next: 1. Re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick

Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the third quarter of game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. New York Jets defeat the New England Patriots 26-20 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

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1. Re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick

If Gang Green wants any chance at a postseason berth in the 2016-17 campaign, paying Fitzpatrick is a must. The guy had one of the best seasons in Jets’ passing history with 3,905 yards to go along with a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. This is something the franchise has not seen in years.

When throwing to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Fitzpatrick has showed he is unlike the same quarterback of previous seasons. Despite his Week 17 collapse, he is without a doubt the best quarterback New York can have under center next year.

You can make a case to trade for Hoyer, McCown, Glennon or anyone else, but none could do what ‘Fitz’ did in 2015. The chemistry with the line, receiving core and backfield is what the Jets have been seeking on offense for a long time. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has also been a big part of the Harvard graduate’s success and he is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Overall, Fitzpatrick needs to return to New York. They need him and he needs them. Whether it is raising the amount of guaranteed money or the price in general, Maccagnan and the front office need to find a way to get something done. If he walks, the Jets could be right back at square one.