While we wait, and wait, and wait for the next part of the offseason to start (anything) here’s a quick rundown of some of the priorities that the Jets have as they look towards free agency (whenever that may be).
Let us know if we’re heading the right (or wrong) direction in the comments, and let us know what you would prioritize instead!
1. Line ‘Em Up At Receiver
Here’s how the current under contract receiver depth chart looks: Jerricho Cotchery, Patrick Turner, Jeremy Kerley, Logan Payne, Scotty McKnight. Expect the Jets add at least either Holmes or Edwards back, but I think they can afford to add both back if they want. Other names that I wouldn’t be surprised hearing the Jets linked to in no particular order? Randy Moss (TEN), Chad Ochocinco (CIN), James Jones (GB), maybe Terrell Owens … and how about one more? Don’t sleep on Chansi Stuckey (CLE), who is now an UFA and whom the Jets drafted and traded away in the package for Braylon Edwards. Stuckey’s productivity flagged at the end of last season, but the Jets liked him enough to develop him, and there’s little chance that the new regime in Cleveland will place much value on him. He’s familiar with the Jets system, and could come in and be productive as another possession receiver.
2. The Revis Islands Archipelago
Contrary to some of KC Joyner’s assertions a year or so back, the corner across from Revis matters. The better the player, the better the Jets secondary, the less essential the pressure package, the more likely teams are to throw back at Revis, the more freedom the Jets have in help/zone coverage schemes…. it all matters.
As we saw, while Cromartie works best on a type of receiver (non-physical deep threats) he was a much superior corner than Lito Sheppard was in 2009, and the Jets need to do their best to bring Cromartie back into the fold. Cromartie is on the record as saying that he wants to be in NYC, which is wonderful, but the Jets are going to need to show him a contract that makes sense for him, super agents Tom Condon and Ben Dogra, and his many paternity payments.
If retaining Cromartie is the goal, the Jets have one thing going for them: that there’s a glut of high-level CBs out there like Nnamdi Asomougha, Jonathan Joseph, Chris Houston or Ike Taylor along with a number of pretenders to the throne like Phillip Buchanon, Chris Carr, Drayton Florence, Ellis Hobbs, Lito Sheppard, Fabian Washington and Brian Williams. Oh and don’t forget that Nate Clements could be cut by the Niners.
3. Leave No Stones Unturned in the OLB Market
High end pass rushers are extremely hard to come by, and while sometimes players can come available in a 3-4 to 4-3 switch that might not otherwise come available, there’s not a lot of talent in the DE or OLB ranks that stands out, at which the Jets could realistically make a run. Maybe the Jets go for a situational pass rusher, but then in that case they might just try and bring Jason Taylor back, as he’d be cheap, knows the system, and while not the same player he once was, is still a gamer.
I do think that the Jets could be looking at Jamaal Westerman this year to see just what he can become. Can he contribute more regularly? Can he secure his place on this roster? 2011 will likely be his best shot at establishing that he belongs in the rotation.
4. If the Cro Flies, Go Safety
Once Kerry Rhodes was traded in 2010, the strength of the Jets safety unit became run support. When Jim Leonhard went down with injury in 2010, the coverage abilities of the Jets remaining safeties were exposed. With Leonhard and Pool, the tandem was the most versatile grouping. With anything else, it was clear what the Jets were going to do with whom, something that Ryan couldn’t afford with some lackluster pressure packages. The Jets did their best to rally after the blowout by the Patriots, but Leonhard’s lack of presence on the field, showed just how thin the team’s coverage abilities were. While Dwight Lowery stepped in admirably at times, it was Brodney Pool whom stepped up. Pool was especially notable in the divisional and championship games. According to PFF, Pool finished fourth among all safeties in coverage.
The Jets need to slow-play Pool into free agency, who should be a sleeper to many teams in free agency. Of course Pool wants to capitalize on a good 2010 season, but with bigger fish at his spot (like Eric Weddle and Dawan Landry) if the Jets can keep him hanging around for a few days while they sort out their receivers and Cromartie situations, bringing him back at a fair deal would be a big plus for the Jets heading into 2011.
5. Tackle the Tackle
It would stand to reason that the Jets would want to put Ducasse into the lineup as a starter in 2011, but if the Jets are serious at making a run at the title, then a run-heavy team, relying on an untested player to be the team’s mauling point of attack has to come into question. Maybe the Jets go for someone who they feel can back up Ducasse, and/or step in should the need arise. In that regard, Damien Woody could make sense, but he would come back on the cheap, and I’m sure Woody would want some gentlemen’s agreement that he’d be the starter … which the Jets might hesitate at promising.