Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comOver the next few days, we’re going to look at a number of options that the Jets might consider once the free agency period begins in early March.
Next up, safeties. The Jets have been reticent to play safeties historically under Rex Ryan, will this be the year that changes? I’ve added my completely arbitrary and wholly bogus odds of each player joining the Jets.
Jairus Byrd, Bills
Analysis: Byrd continues to justify his status as one of the best coverage corners in football. As a franchisee in 2013, there will be the customary 120 increase to re-franchise Byrd, but the increase isn’t steep enough for the Bills to rule out squeezing one more year out of Byrd by tagging if they so choose. The Bills have made it abundantly clear they want to sign Byrd to a long-term deal, but we’ll see. The numbers should be easy; Dashon Goldson’s deal and Eric Weddle’s contract are in line with whatever Byrd should get as a free agent. While the Jets need to upgrade their safety spot, spending free agent dollars might not be the way the team does it.
TJB Contract Prediction: 5 year for $42.5 million ($23 million guaranteed)
Odds: 20 percent
T.J. Ward, Browns
Analysis: Ward s stronger against the run, but he is is no slouch in the passing game and would make an athletic and versatile addition for any team he joins. Rex Ryan is known for his love of versatile players up the middle of his defense and Ward would be a safety he could build his unit around for the next three to five years. Ward seems a player that is an almost certainty to get franchise tagged. The Browns won’t want to pay the freight on a long-term deal for Ward while their whole organization is in flux. While the team works on a long-term deal with Joe Haden, expect Ward to get tagged.
TJB Contract Prediction: 5 year for $37.5 million ($20 million guaranteed)
Odds: 10 percent
Donte Whitner, Niners
Analysis: The Jets are strong at safety against the run, but need a top-flight coverage safety to push this unit back into the lock-down category. Donte Whitner might be 29 but is someone the Jets could badly use to round out their secondary. The Niners are unlikely to use their franchise tag and while both sides would like Whitner back, free agency seems likely. Whitner will turn 29 this summer.
TJB Contract Prediction: 3 years for $19 million
Odds: 30 percent
Chris Clemons, Dolphins
Analysis: Clemons signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins last year and Clemons went out and had a solid season. Clemons will likely attract more interest this year as his coverage skills might help to shore up many units around the league. Clemons has the skillset that the Jets need added to their secondary at the safety spot and could pair well with a player like Antonio Allen.
TJB Contract Prediction: 3 years for $13.5 million
Odds: 30 percent
Louis Delmas, Lions
Analysis: Delmas was cut by the Lions this week and it has come to light that he might have a knee condition. It is likely that this news could give some teams a reason for caution when it comes to signing Delmas even though he is still one of the better coverage safeties in the league. Delmas also played almost all the defensive snaps for the Lions in 2013. So how much is this condition really bothering him? The Jets could use a talent like Delmas and Rex Ryan is generally liberal with his practice policy for veterans with chronic pain or injury issues. Delmas seems like a fit to what the Jets need to do and what they would be willing to pay for a year or two – assuming Delmas stays healthy.
TJB Contract Prediction: 3 years for $16.5 million
Odds: 30 percent
Add your thoughts on these players and more in the comments!