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Breaking down key Jets players to keep or cut

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates a tackle against running back Tevin Coleman #26 (not pictured) of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates a tackle against running back Tevin Coleman #26 (not pictured) of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 29: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates a tackle against running back Tevin Coleman #26 (not pictured) of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 29: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates a tackle against running back Tevin Coleman #26 (not pictured) of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Another disappointing season of New York Jets football is in the books. As the Jets approach a pivotal offseason, what key players should they keep or cut for 2018? Here’s a breakdown of all their top players that could potentially be on the roster bubble.

It’s no secret that this was another challenging year for the New York Jets. Although the team got off to a promising start under the leadership of veteran quarterback Josh McCown, they floundered down the stretch and finished with a 5-11 record.

There are many angles that sports writers will be tackling in the offseason. Pundits will inevitably debate who the Jets should draft, how the franchise should address the quarterback position, and what free agents should be targeted.

The season just ended, though, so perhaps its best to start with something basic. As the Jets seek to rebuild, what players should be kept and who should be cut? Let’s break it down.

Next: Muhammad Wilkerson

Muhammad Wilkerson

The story of Muhammad Wilkerson began in promising fashion. The former first-round pick initially flourished in New York, posting 36.5 sacks over his first five seasons. His career peaked in 2015 when he racked up 12 sacks en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance.

For his efforts, the Jets rewarded him with a massive 5 year/$86 million contract (courtesy of Spotrac). Unfortunately, once Wilkerson got his payday, his on-field performance spiraled downhill. He failed to break the five-sack mark in each of the past two seasons, and he has become notorious for his poor effort and for showing up late to team events.

Final Verdict: Cut

This one is easy. Wilkerson is not producing on the field, and his poor effort and attitude are toxic to a young and impressionable locker room.

Next: Josh McCown

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets high fives the fans prior to an NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 24: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets high fives the fans prior to an NFL game against the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Josh McCown

Veteran quarterback Josh McCown is the textbook definition of a journeyman. He has played for eight teams, never spending more than four years with any one team. Although McCown has been effective on occasion, he has never shown enough talent or consistency to stick as a team’s long-term starter.

In spite of McCown’s limitations, he was exactly what the Jets needed in 2017. Before suffering a season-ending injury, the crafty veteran had arguably the best season of his career (18 TD/9 INT/67.3 completion percentage). Additionally, he was a valuable leader and presence in the locker room.

Final Verdict: Keep (Probably)

Unless the Jets are able to bring in another proven quarterback (Kirk Cousins anyone?), they should bring back McCown. McCown could serve the dual role of veteran mentor and insurance policy for the Jets quarterback room.

Next: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Austin Seferian-Jenkins #88 of the New York Jets is wrapped up by Kiko Alonso #47 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-6. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Austin Seferian-Jenkins #88 of the New York Jets is wrapped up by Kiko Alonso #47 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-6. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

The Jets took a chance on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and he delivered.

The former second-round pick has always had talent, but off-field issues (legal troubles, alcohol abuse) have kept him from realizing it.

Although his 2017 numbers are not particularly impressive at first glance (357 receiving yards, 3 TD’s), Seferian-Jenkins has shown that he is able to stay out of trouble and produce at the NFL level.

Final Verdict: Keep

Over the past few years, the Jets have received almost no offensive production at the tight end position. Seferian-Jenkins looks to be at least a league average starter. The Jets should bring him back for 2018.

Next: Bryce Petty

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 24: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets looks on in the fourth quarter during the Jets’ 7-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 24: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets looks on in the fourth quarter during the Jets’ 7-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Bryce Petty

By all accounts, Jets quarterback Bryce Petty is a hard worker and solid locker room presence. He has spent most of his career as a backup and has waited patiently and professionally for every opportunity to prove himself.

Unfortunately, for Petty, he has received opportunities and he has failed to capitalize on them. In limited playing time, he has barely completed half of his passes (53.3 completion %) and has a poor 4/10 TD/INT ratio. Unsurprisingly, the Jets have won only one of Petty’s seven starts.

Final Verdict: Cut

Petty is still under contract and would be cheap to keep in 2018. However, the Jets should free up his roster spot and bring in another quarterback with more potential than Petty.

Next: Christian Hackenberg

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 19: Christian Hackenberg #5 of the New York Jets drops back to pass during the first quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 19, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Jets 16-6. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 19: Christian Hackenberg #5 of the New York Jets drops back to pass during the first quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 19, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Jets 16-6. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Christian Hackenberg

Everyone cares about quarterbacks, so it’s probably worth discussing the Jets third-string quarterback Christian Hackenberg as well.

More from The Jet Press

Despite the fact that he has had no impact in the NFL whatsoever (no snaps in an NFL regular season game), everyone is always eager to discuss Hackenberg. A second-round pick from a prestigious college program (Penn State), many Jets fans hoped that he would be the franchise savior.

Early indications are not promising, as Hackenberg has allegedly performed very poorly in practice. The fact that he apparently could not even beat out the floundering Petty on the depth chart is also concerning.

Final Verdict: Keep (for now anyway)

It’s getting late early for Hackenberg, but given his high draft status and arm strength, the Jets should carry him on their roster for at least one more year.

Next: Morris Claiborne

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 26: Cornerback Morris Claiborne #21 of the New York Jets reacts during the second half of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 26, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Carolina Panthers won 35-27. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 26: Cornerback Morris Claiborne #21 of the New York Jets reacts during the second half of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 26, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Carolina Panthers won 35-27. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Morris Claiborne

Along with Seferian-Jenkins, the Jets also took a chance on cornerback Morris Claiborne.

A former first-round pick by the Cowboys, Claiborne was plagued by injuries and never realized his potential in Dallas. Prior to joining the Jets, he only started in 10+ games in two of his first five seasons.

Claiborne experienced a turnaround in New York, starting in 15 games and providing consistent and solid secondary play. Additionally, he provided a veteran presence for a Jets secondary that was filled with rookies (safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye).

Final Verdict: Keep

Must Read: Jets get it right extending Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan

The Jets need all the talent they can get. As long as his asking price is reasonable, the Jets should re-sign Claiborne and pencil him into their starting defensive lineup for 2018.

What do you think, Jets fans? Who should be kept or cut for 2018? Sound off in the comments below!

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