With free agency only a few days away, the New York Jets will have their pick of the litter. But they must remain selective and stay away from these three players.
The New York Jets will enter free agency with nearly $100 million in cap space making their options of potential free agents to sign almost limitless. But at the end of the day, the free agent period is often a buyer beware situation where teams should be more selective than inclusive.
While the Jets will do their due diligence in an attempt to sign some of the marquee names on the open market, there are a handful of players that they should absolutely stay away from. The temptation will be there — it always is — but the team must resist the urge to spend their money in unwise ways.
Perhaps it’s because the player is aging and doesn’t fit the current Jets roster plan. Or perhaps it’s because the player is simply being overvalued, as tends to happen with the majority of free agents.
Whatever the case may be, the following three free agents are players the Jets must stay away from at all costs. Even if that cost is particularly low.
3. Danny Amendola — WR
The Miami Dolphins recently released wide receiver Danny Amendola sparking questions about what team would look to sign the 10-year NFL veteran. Some have speculated that his former team, the New England Patriots, might look to bring him back for a cheap, short-term contract.
As long as he stays away from another AFC East organization.
Amendola is a solid, reliable target but is well over 30-years-old and doesn’t exactly fit the whole youth movement the Jets are looking for. That said, his prior connections with the team’s coaching staff could drive the Jets to make a significant push for him.
New head coach Adam Gase coached Amendola last year in Miami giving the former undrafted free agent familiarity in the Jets offensive system. On top of that, Gase brought over his offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach from his time with the Dolphins, the two members of the coaching staff Amendola worked closest with.
Regardless, Amendola is well past his prime and while he could still be a solid contributor for an NFL team, that team shouldn’t be the Jets. He simply doesn’t fit what the team is looking for and there are younger, more productive options available in free agency. The Jets would be wise to go after a younger target like Tampa Bay’s Adam Humphries despite the more expensive price tag.
Amendola may end up back in the AFC East before all is set and done, but it mustn’t be as a member of the New York Jets.
Next: 2. Mark Ingram
2. Mark Ingram — RB
The Jets will enter free agency with their eyes solely set on signing soon-to-be former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. But this is a team that has been known to narrowly miss out on signing big-name free agents in the past so expectations should certainly be curbed.
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The free agent crop of running backs is relatively thin, as it is every year, once you get past Bell and Ingram remains one of the most successful and proven backs on the open market. Ingram has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons under his belt and was even a 2017 Pro Bowler, but recent trends would indicate that he is in for a sharp decline in production.
The 2011 first-round pick will be 30-years-old before the end of the 2019 season and age isn’t typically a running back’s best friend. Moreover, Ingram was hit with a four-game suspension to start last season which doesn’t exactly help his case either.
If the Jets can’t land Bell, it would be wise for the team to explore younger options to lead their backfield in 2019 and beyond. Ingram has had a productive career to this point, but it’s hard to count on him being as productive in the near future.
The Jets would be better off looking for alternatives elsewhere.
Next: 1. Dante Fowler
1. Dante Fowler — EDGE
Unlike the previous two entries, Dante Fowler doesn’t land on this list due to concerns with his age. Rather, Fowler finds himself as an undesirable free agent target due to his lack of prior production.
Despite being drafted as the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Fowler has never been able to live up to expectations. After missing his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL suffered on the first day of training camp, Fowler has trudged through three seasons of inconsistent play.
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The Florida product has shown flashes, particularly with his eight-sack 2017 campaign, but has ultimately been unable to string together consistent performances. Fowler was eventually shipped off to the Los Angeles Rams ahead of last year’s trade deadline and despite becoming a starter for the first time in his career was only able to manage two sacks over an eight-game stint.
On top of that, Fowler has graded out poorly with Pro Football Focus having earned only one season grade above a 60.0, that coming this past season.
With his draft pedigree and young age — he’s just 24-years-old — Fowler will likely demand a sizeable contract in free agency despite his lack of professional production. Because of that, it would be smart for the Jets to steer clear of the underperforming edge rusher.
Recent reports have indicated that the Jets have shown interest in signing Fowler but that would ultimately be a mistake. Unless they could get him on the cheap side, it wouldn’t be the best decision to bank on his traits and collegiate production shining through in 2019 and beyond.
There are safer, cheaper alternatives available in free agency and especially the draft making a potential Fowler signing an unnecessary risk the Jets should avoid taking.