While free agency won’t begin until the end of February, we wanted to take some time to look at the Jets free agent lists, and write up some initial thoughts about their future status with the Jets. Next up, the Restricted Free Agents … for more information about the process see Wikipedia.
CB Marquice Cole — Cole playing commendably on special teams. He also played on the defense late in the season when the team started using him as a third safety, like in the Chiefs game. The Jets will probably like to retain him, to save cap space will not offer him a tender, hoping to re-sign him as an untendered player to a minimum level deal.
OLB Jamaal Westerman — Westerman is a player that’s hard to read the Jets intentions. Rex likes him, called him the ‘Designated Pass Rusher’ before the season, but the Jets pushed him aside two years ago for Jason Taylor, then again this year for Aaron Maybin. Westerman has the ability to stop the run, and can show flashes at rushing the passer … is he ready for a larger role? Garrett McIntyre’s play muddied the waters, with McIntyre getting three (one of which was nominal) starts towards the end of the season. When Bryan Thomas went down, Westerman stepped in, playing mostly on running downs, leaving most of the pass rushing for Aaron Maybin. If Westerman could step up, he would give this defense a three down outside linebacker, but it’s hard to know if that will ever happen. Westerman was an undrafted free agent and was one of the first players that Rex most prized as a new coach of the Jets, and over time he’s taken on larger roles. Even so, Rex might have mixed emotions about losing Westerman, so at most I would see them tendering him to a original round tender. More likely, I see the Jets not tendering Westerman while selling him on why that’s a good thing to fend off other suitors. If pressed the Jets will try to bring him back on a short & backloaded deal to entice him to stay in Jersey.
WR Patrick Turner — Now here’s an interesting dilemma. Turner was a third round pick by the Dolphins in 2009, and after just one short season with the Dolphins, was cut in the summer of 2010, only to be picked up by the Jets. It’s hard to imagine that Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland would have cut Turner without his Head Coach Tony Sparano’s blessing. The Jets now have his old coach as their OC … will the new look offense have a role for him? The knock on Turner is that while he has great size, he doesn’t have the speed to separate from NFL caliber corners. Of course the Jets just saw Turner catch his first career touchdown in the last game of the season while Holmes was pouting … Turner seems loyal to the Jets and his fellow USC alum Mark Sanchez. Will he risk taking no tender and setting a gentleman’s agreement to allow the Jets to match offers? Most likely, yes. The Jets will then weigh his projected contribution to what it would take to retain him and then make a final call.
OLB Aaron Maybin — So far the Jets seem to be able to get away with either low tenders or no tenders while staying in the running to retain their talent. After the flashes that Maybin showed this season as a pass rusher, some team might be willing to risk signing and tendering him in earnest, compared to the names above that would be shocking to draw real offers from other teams. Maybin seems fiercely loyal to Rex Ryan, and to the coach who he said revived his career, Mike Smith. A second round pick would be a high price for any team to pay, but would be fair remuneration to the Jets yet be enough for the Jets to low-tender their situational pass rusher in a year where they don’t have the ability to be generous with cap space.