Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comA year ago, free agency was tough on the Jets. While there are a decent number of free agents in 2014, sufficient cap room and a full complement of draft picks (and compensatories from the 2013 free agents) should help the Jets fill in any problem areas rather quickly.
That said, here is a list of the Jets pending free agents and what the Jets might do about these players. Snap counts are indicative of offensive or defensive snaps only and not special teams work.
Next, defense and special teams:
Unrestricted Free Agents
OLB Calvin Pace (892 snaps) — 10 sacks on a veteran minimum type contract? Yes, please. The Jets were thin at outside linebacker to start the season and between Antwan Barnes’ injury and the cutting of Ricky Sapp the team relied more on Pace than maybe they even expected, especially in a pass-rushing role. Calvin Pace might be nearing the end of his career, but proved he can still be an effective player when put in the right position. The team has expressed interest in bringing pace back to New York in 2014, but the question will likely come down to price. Pace just posted his highest sack total of his entire career thanks to his motor and working with the Sons of Anarchy. Will Pace want to return to the coach and team he’s familiar with for what will likely be another low level deal or will he want to see if he can parlay his sack total into a larger payday? $1.0 million in 2013
S Ed Reed (375 snaps) — The inclusion of Ed Reed onto the 2013 New York Jets will be viewed by many as a failure, but while there were some very notable breakdowns on defense for Reed and the secondary, on the whole Reed was a solid addition to a unit in need of some extra help. One of the biggest weaknesses of this 2013 safety group was their inexperience and/or inability to play coverage. While there were some bumps on the road, Ed Reed did provide ended up tying the team lead in interceptions (along with Milliner and Cromartie) with three in just seven games. We think there would be a viable place for Ed Reed on this team in 2014, but imagine it will be a tough sell to the general public. Even should Reed return it would likely be on a low level deal. Beyond that, the Jets have to get young and dynamic at the spot and we think that forcing Reed back onto the field for the majority of the plays might be a mistake. $940,000 in 2013
DT Leger Douzable (242 snaps) — While the journeyman defensive tackle played mostly in rotational work, he was extremely effective against the run and pass with the Jets. Douzable would like to return but is allowing the situation to play out, which could mean the Jets won’t bring him back until after the start of free agency. $715,000 in 2013
CB Isaiah Trufant (72 snaps) – Trufant has been an important part of special-teams and has seen some spot work on defense. Trufant might be diminutive, but is aggressive and speedy. So, look for the Jets to try and bring him back on a low-cost deal to provide continuity in the secondary. $555,000 in 2013
CB Ellis Lankster (30 snaps) — As any player might, Lankster has wanted to play a role beyond spot work and special-teams since his days in Buffalo. We imagine that in unrestricted free agency he will seek a team where he can make an impact on defense as opposed to just special-teams. While there are a number of secondary deficient teams out there that could use a player like Lankster, don’t be surprised if he goes back to work for his old boss Mike Pettine in Cleveland. $585,000 in 2013
LB Josh Mauga — When Mauga has been healthy enough he has been a great contributor on special teams and a solid backup at linebacker. Important for a team which has historically tied up a lot of money since 2009 at the inside linebacking spot. The problem for Mauga has been his inability to stay healthy going back to 2009. Due to this, Mauga is likely to come cheap if the Jets would like to retain him. $730,000 in 2013
CB Aaron Berry — By all accounts Aaron Berry was was showing promise during the Jets off-season program and minicamps. Unfortunately for Berry and the Jets, he was lost for the season on the very first day of training camp. When the Jets announced Berry would be heading to the injured reserve it sounded as if they were thinking long-term with the nickel corner. Bringing back Berry on a modest deal seems a wise investment with little downside in a year where more transition in the secondary is expected. $700,000 in 2013
PK Nick Folk — After what was a very effective season for Jets kicker Nick Folk, it seems a reasonable request that the free agent is looking for longer-term stability from an organization to which he is already proven his dependability. It’s unlikely that Folk will see Sebastian Janokowski, Robbie Gould or Dan Bailey money. But for a team with a young quarterback needing all the help he can get, Folk seems worth the $1.75 million to $2.0 million on annual basis it might take to keep him. $780,000 in 2013
Restricted Free Agents
CB Darrin Walls (292 snaps) — Walls played extremely well against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, but then fell on harder times when thrust into a larger role between Weeks 4-6 due to Dee Milliner’s injury and struggles on the field. Walls seems to be in the sweet spot when he’s playing 20 to 30 snaps a game as nickel or dime cornerback. We don’t expect that the Jets would tender Walls, but we certainly expect them to try and bring him back and consistently increase his workload in 2014. $555,000 in 2013
LB Garrett McIntyre (271 snaps) — McIntyre works as a replacement linebacker for the Jets and is used in run, pass and coverage situations. What McIntyre offers is replacement-level play in all three areas, but he seems to struggle to rise above in any one application. This has led to him being used in numerous ways, but rarely shining. The coaching staff seems to like McIntyre’s durability and replacement-level versatility, but we expect McIntyre to be facing significant competition for his roster spot and playing time in 2014. Expect the team to pass on a tender and offer him a modest contract. $555,000 in 2013
LB Nick Bellore — Bellore has been an integral part of the Jets special teams unit and has played extremely well for the team in that regard. But with David Harris and Demario Davis on the squad the team has shied away from giving him much responsibility on defense. If team passes on tendering Bellore, they should certainly bring him back to compete with his teammates in captaining the special teams unit in 2014. $555,000 in 2013