Over the next few weeks as free agency approaches for the Jets we’re going to spend a series of articles outlining the process of what the Jets might look to address in free agency.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comA year ago, free agency was tough on the Jets. After cutting a number of players, the Jets then let a number more go in free agency who were large contributors to the team. Mike DeVito, LaRon Landry, Shonn Greene, Yeremiah Bell and Dustin Keller all left for other cities — with varying levels of concern around them. 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.
First up, the offense:
Unrestricted Free Agents
RT Austin Howard (1071 snaps) — On the whole it was a tough year for the Jets offensive line, but much of that had to do with working with a rookie quarterback. Austin Howard might not have had the same gangbuster results he had in his first year as a starter, but he was still an excellent player and ranked 16th according to Pro Football Focus among right tackles. With the amount of money that the Jets have allocated for free agency, they would be wise to re-sign this unrestricted player. In terms of retaining players, Howard should be the first player on that list. $2.02 million in 2013
RG Willie Colon (1060 snaps) — The Jets drafted three offensive lineman in 2013 between Brian Winters (who started), Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell. Campbell and Aboushi never saw the field but were on the active roster all season along with “minidraft”-ee Ben Ijalana. One would have to imagine that the Jets would like one of those three players to start in 2014, but right now that seems like a reach on a team looking to make strides this year. Colon is dealing with rehabbing his torn bicep muscle which he suffered in Week 17 and that might slow the Jets on bringing the veteran back. According to PFF, Colon ranked 16th among right guards in 2013 proving him to be an able, albeit limited starter. Expect the Jets to bring back Colon to battle for a spot in camp. $1.16 million in 2013
TE Jeff Cumberland (685 snaps) – The question with Cumberland will be – what the cost of keeping him is? While Cumberland was a productive part of the 2013 offense, he now enters his fifth season and there are questions about how much more productive he can truly be. Our guess is that it might not be much more. The Jets were said to have some serious interest last year in tight ends during the draft process, so we expect they might try and find a player in the drat this year to become a true long-term option for the team. If Cumberland is willing to come back on a deal that would could risk him being a transition player for the team, that might work for the Jets.
TE Kellen Winslow (342 snaps) — Winslow was a late pick-up for the Jets during June camps and proved to be found money in terms of his production in a stopgap year at the position. The problem with Winslow was his production came in fits and starts around his four-game suspension and off the field problems. After the leaked reports on his arrest, we do not expect that Winslow would be back with the Jets in 2014. $840,000 in 2013
OL Vladimir Ducasse (331 snaps) — While there’s been some progress for the Jets former second rounder, there’s not been near enough for the Jets to sign the now free agent. With the influx of linemen that the Jets drafted last year, Ducasse’s roster spot has become even more tenuous since his benching in favor of Brian Winters in 2013. We would imagine this is where the Jets and Ducasse finally part ways. $630,000 in 2013
FB Lex Hilliard — The Jets drafted Tommy Bohannon for a reason and Hilliard was the team’s paper-thin backup plan before Hilliard’s season ending injury. Do not expect Hilliard to return in 2014. $715,000 in 2013
WR/KR Josh Cribbs (30 snaps) — Cribbs provided the Jets some sleight-of-hand on offense and modestly good play on special teams, where he tallied 20 kick returns and nine potential punt returns. Cribbs seems to have lost some of his trademark burst and speed that made him such a phenomenon five years ago. We don’t expect that the team would go back to Cribbs, unless in the most emergency of circumstances. Expect the team to look for new returners with offensive upside through the NFL draft. $840,000 in 2013
RB/KR Darius Reynaud (0 snaps) — Reynaud saw five kick and punt return attempts in emergency work for the Jets in December 2013 after Cribbs was lost for the season. Reynaud might be back with the Jets but they will likely explore other options first. $715,000 in 2013
QB David Garrard (0 snaps) — Garrard told the media during the season that the team had already asked him to return for 2014. Garrard likely enjoyed his work mentoring Geno Smith during the 2013 season, but his value to the team beyond that of a coach is highly suspect. The Jets might extend Garrard a contract for 2014, but his roster spot for September shouldn’t be a certainty. $1 million in 2013
Restricted Free Agents
TE Konrad Reuland (34 snaps) — A holdover from the Mike Tannenbaum era, we don’t expect that the Jets will rush to tender this barely utilized restricted free agent. Reuland spent most of his time on special-teams and wasn’t even all that effective when he played there. The Jets won’t waste the resources to tender Reuland, but they might offer him a minimum contract to compete with other tight ends during camp due to his familiarity with the team. $480,000 in 2013
Add your thoughts on these players in the comments! Defense and Special Teams coming soon!