Though Free Agency remains a week away (how many of us will be thankful it kicks off at 9pm and not 5am as usual), there is enough information out there to put together a crib sheet, so to speak, of Jets wants, needs and concerns. Most of the things you think might happen probably won’t, similarly much of what is written here will be overtaken by events, but the fun part of free agency is we get to come up with these ideas, suggestions and hopes and then we get to see what actually happens.
The Jets have a number of areas that they might choose to address in Free Agency, with expiring contracts robbing them of starters at Safety, outside linebacker, nose tackle and receiver. Additionally, upgrades might be considered at inside linebacker, offensive guard, offensive tackle, running back and, perhaps controversially, quarterback. Further, depth at safety, corner, inside and outside linebacker, defensive end, offensive line, receiver, running back and quarterback are likely to be looked at. Phew!
First things first, Braylon Edwards has been brought up by many as a potential Jets target. Edwards was released by San Francisco prior to the end of the 2011 season and has accordingly been free to sign with any team since he cleared waivers. He has been troubled by injury since his tenure in New York ended and the Jets would probably need to check his health out before concluding any deal. That said, given his present availability and the fact he hasn’t signed it is possible to draw one obvious conclusion: the Jets are going to consider other options at the receiver position. That in itself should be a thought that gets the juices flowing for Free Agency junkies, with names like Marques Colston – with his local connections, his Saints team-mate Robert Meachem, Rams and erstwhile Broncos flanker Brandon Lloyd and even Pittsburgh’s RFA Mike Wallace available. It is unlikely that the Jets would spend the #16 pick on Wallace, nor are they likely to be interested in the demands of players like Vincent Jackson or Pierre Garçon. Other free agents include Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, but again these players are unlikely to be on the Jets’ radar.
The next decision will come at the quarterback position, where the Jets have options. Peyton Manning is expected to be a free agent by the weekend, with many infatuated fans calling for his immediate signing. The bottom line on Manning, however, is that he will simply cost too much to be a realistic option. The only way he becomes a New York Jet is if it is his first choice and he makes positive steps towards making it happen. With dome and warm weather options in play it is unlikely that he will be so inclined. The next opportunity for the Jets is to sign a marginal starter to push/challenge/compete with Mark Sanchez. There are many of those on the market, including David Garrard, Jason Campbell and Chad Henne. Garrard has already gone on the record with his comfort at assuming a backup role and would likely be the most sensible choice. Henne is reportedly looking for more money than is wise to pay a backup and Campbell will surely be seeking an opportunity to start if at all possible. Beyond free agency comes the draft and there have been murmurs of the Jets scoping out the price for St. Louis’ #2 pick, presumably to be used for the selection of Robert Griffin III. It would involve a lot of picks and probably Dustin Keller to be shipped out to the Rams, but if Tannenbaum becomes enamoured of Griffin then anything is possible.
At the offensive line there are issues at left guard where Matt Slauson underwent offseason surgery for a serious shoulder injury, right guard where Brandon Moore started to show indications of a possible decline in 2011 and most pressingly at right tackle where Wayne Hunter struggled all year long and Vladimir Ducasse failed to demonstrate any competence. Draft options will depend on whether premier options like Cordy Glenn and David DeCastro last until the sixteenth pick of the draft, though GM Mike Tannenbaum usually likes to go into the draft with no question marks in his mind and may look to use the free agency period to acquire a veteran lineman and open up his options. A high priced free agent like New Orleans’ Carl Nicks is almost certainly not an option at this stage.
Next time: Defensive options.