Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comWith plenty of cap room this offseason, the Jets are going to have some decisions to make regarding who to let go and who to keep. (Rich Cimini had the good idea to rank the free agents on ESPN NY, so be sure to read his as well.)
While the Jets won’t renew all the players, here’s a list of who’s contract is up along with our rambling thoughts on each
RG Willie Colon (2013 salary $1.16 million) — Colon might be nearing the end of his career, but he played well for the Jets in 2013 and moving to guard might extend his longevity in the league. Colon has stated that he wants to play for Rex Ryan again in 2014, but the Jets drafted heavily into the OL ranks in 2013. Would the Jets bring back Colon with the expectation that he would be a fulltime starter or as a backstop should Aboushi and Campbell not pay off during training camp? The situation will be more complicated with Colon due to his season-ending injury in the last game of the season. His surgery and rehab will likely go uneventfully. The Jets should consider bringing him back for another veteran minimum type deal around the start of minicamps.
TE Jeff Cumberland (2013 salary $1.32 million) — Cumberland has his best statistical season with the Jets in 2014 (398 yards and 4TDs) but it was his improvement in blocking that drew Rex’s praise the most. Cumberland is rounding into form as an NFL tight end but there are those that will question whether we’ve reached his upside. There were reports the Jets were serious about drafting a TE on day two in 2013, but once taking Geno in the second, the Jets seemed to be behind the curve on talent round by round. Expect the Jets to be serious about adding a tight end through the draft. With that in mind, the Jets might like to bring back Cumberland, but might not make it a priority in the face of offers from other teams.
DL Leger Douzable (2013 salary $715,000) — The journeyman Douzable might have had his best year as a pro in the Jets system. Playing with the talent around him would do that, so look to see if Douzable doesn’t do whatever it takes to come back to the Jets on one-more one year deal before trying to parlay that to the best contract he can muster.
OL Vladimir Ducasse (2013 salary $630,000) — After being replaced by Brian Winters during the season, it would seem that the Jets will be finally parting ways with Ducasse. The Jets carried an almost criminal 10 offensive linemen on the roster this season, three of which were inactive (Ijalana, Aboushi & Campbell) seemingly every game. If the Jets didn’t expect larger contributions from those players the following season, there is no reason to retain them. The Jets need to pare down the roster spots at the position and the money and roster spot afforded to bringing back Ducasse might be a better fit for a proven veteran that can be counted on to start. Someone like say Willie Colon should the young turks not work out during training camp.
K Nick Folk (2013 salary $780,000) — Folk had a career best season with the Jets in 2013 and is looking (and deserving of) a multi-year contract. Folk help win multiple games for the Jets in 2013 and having a steady leg to go with a young arm at the quarterback spot is always a wise investment. Expect the Jets to bring Folk back on a deal that averages upwards of two million dollars per year across three or so year.
RT Austin Howard (2013 salary $2.02 million) — There’s about three cap moves that we would die for this season. The first is re-signing Nick Folk. The second is extending Mo Wilkerson’s contract as soon as possible. The third is locking up Howard. Howard played extremely well and preventing him from getting to free agency is the best long-term move for the team for less than five million per season.
CB Ellis Lankster (2013 salary $585,000) — Lankster played a core role on special teams for the Jets over the last few seasons and has seen some work on defense. His returning to the Jets might be contingent on him seeing a larger role on defense. With Darrin Walls, a rehabbing Aaron Berry and others equipped to step in this season, the Jets and Lankster might head separate ways in 2014 much as the Jets and Dwight Lowery, Marquice Cole and others have over the years with those players finding their fortunes elsewhere.
OLB Calvin Pace (2013 salary $1.0 million) — Pace had a productive season as a outside linebacker and the team got their money’s worth in terms of pressure from Pace with his first ever double-digit sack total. The Jets could look to bring back Pace in 2014 on a similarly modest deal as they look to groom future players at the spot through free agency or the draft.
S Ed Reed (2013 salary $940,000) — Reed has stated that he wants to keep playing. He’s also said that he chose the Jets over the Patriots because of Rex. With an unstable secondary in 2013, the Jets have to see the value of capable safeties. Can Reed be that player for the Jets in 2014? I can foresee a situation where Reed does comes back to the Jets on another modest deal, but the Jets will need to think hard about how to best utilize their safety spot this offseason and it is fair to question whether Reed’s presence will impact the safety group’s overall performance.
TE Kellen Winslow (2013 salary $840,000) — I wouldn’t expect Winslow to be back in 2014 with the Jets. The team is going to want to get younger and Cumberland seems capable of filling a more versatile role. Should Winslow return, the Jets won’t be in a rush to re-sign him as they will want to see where players like Cumberland, Sudfield and any other acquisitions might be around June camps.