This is an exciting offseason with the Jets with potentially $100 million to spend. Before looking at outside free agents, the Jets have 3 in-house candidates to consider.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Rich Cimini wrote that the New York Jets have begun negotiations with three of their free agents. Demario Davis, Morris Claiborne and Austin Seferian-Jenkins all had bright moments for the team in 2017.
For the most part, they’re worth bringing back for next season and beyond, unless they can be upgraded via free agency. Given the fact that the Jets will have a lot of money to play with this offseason, bodes well for some of their internal free agents to return in order to continue rebuilding the right way.
That being said, the Jets are well under the salary cap. They have the kind of money to chase the top free agents available. Should they look for upgrades over these three top players worth re-signing?
Let’s take a look at each player.
When the Jets drafted Davis in 2012, they hoped he would be a mainstay for years to come. While he was an immediate starter, he didn’t have the impact the team hoped for. In 2016, he left for the Cleveland Browns after the Jets didn’t make much of an attempt to keep him.
After cutting David Harris, the Jets had a hole at ILB. They struck a deal to bring Davis back for disappointing safety Calvin Pryor. This time around Davis was a revelation. He was PFF’s 8th ranked LB and also led the team with five sacks.
This is the easiest decision for the team to make. Davis is not only a leader of the defense, he’s also not easily replaced. I would expect the Jets to move fast and lock him up long term.
Next: 2. A cornerback that stepped up in 2017
The 6th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Claiborne has had an up and down career. Injuries have been a problem for him as he’s struggled to stay healthy enough to display his significant talent.
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2016 was a successful and healthy season for him as he rated out as PFF’s No. 9 CB. Despite this, he was only able to land a one year prove it deal with the Jets. It was hard to tell what he was able to prove one way or the other.
He had a very strong start to the season before injuring his foot in Week 9 against Atlanta. He only missed one game but was much less effective in the second half of the year.
Cornerback is one of the stronger positions in this free agent class. Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, and Bashaud Breeland are all players the Jets should take a look at. The draft also features some good looking players such as Denzel Ward and Josh Jackson.
With Buster Skrine better suited for the slot, the Jets need two cornerbacks. Claiborne should be one of those alongside one of the players listed above. His press-man skills are a good fit for Todd Bowles defense and the Jets should be able to get him at a discount.
Next: 1. A tough decision at tight end
A talented tight end out of Washington, Seferian-Jenkins was the 38th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He flashed some serious skills in his first two seasons but didn’t completely put it together.
2016 was a disastrous year for Seferian-Jenkins. He was cut by the Buccaneers after a second DUI arrest. The Jets took a flyer on his talent and picked him up off waivers. He was able to contribute to the Jets and also sought help for his alcohol problem.
A clean and more focused Seferian-Jenkins was an important part of the Jets offense in 2017. He missed the first two games of the season due to suspension but became an important safety valve for Josh McCown upon his return. While he caught 50 passes, those only went for 357 yards and three touchdowns.
I think he can be upgraded. My first choice would be another Bucs tight end, Cameron Brate. Brate has been one of the better TE’s in the NFL the last two years catching 105 passes and 14 touchdowns. He is a restricted free agent this year but should be signable after the Bucs drafted O.J. Howard.
Trey Burton is another intriguing option. Despite being the Eagles number two option, he was still able to catch five TD’s and average 16.5 yards a catch. His speed and size could add another dimension to the Jets offense. Luis Tirado Jr. of The Jet Press did a good analysis of Burton here. Seferian-Jenkins played well for the Jets and I wouldn’t mind having him back this year. But before signing him to any big contract I would take a very close look at Brate and Burton.