The Jets don't have as many big-time free agents to keep as they did last year, but several veteran pieces are about to hit the market. They don't have a ton of cap room to work with, so if they want to make additions before the draft, they need to ensure that new contracts are sensible.
Here is a list of every free agent on the Jets roster, including an estimated yearly salary they should expect to get on the open market, regardless of team (and assuming they don't choose to retire).
Sione Pouha: Update: Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com reports that the Jets have agreed to a three-year extension with nose tackle Sione Pouha.
Jim Leonhard: $3 million (estimated)
A good, reliable, system player for the Jets, Leonhard would be a lock to return if he didn’t suffer a season-ending injury against the Chiefs last season. He is known for his football smarts, but he is more athletic and instinctive than he is given credit for.
He may have to take a little less than what he planned on getting, but I don’t expect him to draw a lot of interest on the open market. I don't see a lot of teams going after a player who may not even be ready for training camp.
Aaron Maybin: $1.3 Million
Maybin put up some numbers and gave the Jets defense a much-needed shot of speed, but he is far too light to be an every-down player. Most of his sacks came from hustle plays and coverage, rather than pure rush ability. The Jets are kidding themselves if they think they can have a dominant defense with Maybin as their only pass rusher.
Maybin will reportedly get a first-round tender worth 1.3 million, but his worth is less than that. The tender allows the Jets to lock him up for one more year without committing to him long-term.
Marquice Cole: $1 million (estimated)
Marquice is a terrific gunner on special teams and has shown that he can be a capable depth corner in dime packages. Should the Jets catch the injury bug at the cornerback position, he can be a capable player covering the slot. He deserves to get a pay raise and some long-term security.
Jamaal Westerman: $1 million (estimated)
Westerman flashed some of the pass rush ability coaches raved about in the preseason, but he was not the kind of player teams had to game plan around. He was also replaced by Garrett McIntyre in the base defense because of his inability to set the edge in the run game. A restricted free agent, I would be surprised if he is his signed to anything much higher than the league minimum.
Martin Tevaseu: $750K (estimated)
MTV flipped back and forth between the practice squad and active roster, but when he did play in game situations, he held his own. I was surprised that he was not snagged from the practice squad, but the Jets lucked out. He should get another tryout to make the active roster on a consistent basis.
Matthew Mulligan: $800K (estimated)
Mulligan had a ton of penalties as a blocking tight end, but when he was not drawing yellow flags, he was actually doing a very solid job moving around defensive ends and linebackers. He was also an important member of the best kick return team in football. He will get another chance to make the team in training camp.
Robert Turner: $910K (estimated)
Turner is a versatile backup that has been valuable to the Jets in a variety of roles. When Nick Mangold went down, we saw the lack of depth the Jets had on the offensive line. He will be brought back at the right price. His injury occurred early enough in the season to where it should not be an issue.
Nick Folk: $910K (estimated)
Had a great start to the season, but missed a few kicks down the stretch. He did show some improvement over last season, but he is not among the elite kickers yet.
LaDainian Tomlinson: $1.2 million (estimated)
LT was very effective in his role as a third down back, but judging by his comments in the media, retirement is a more likely scenario than another tour with the Jets. Plus, bringing back a running back with the kind of mileage that LT has is not exactly a good way to go about getting more explosive on offense. If he does land with another team, it will be for somewhere close to the minimum salary.
Kevin O'Connell: $650K (estimated)
O’Connell spent the year on IR, working almost as a second quarterbacks coach. The Jets have kept him in the building for a while, but they are going to overhaul the quarterback position as a whole. With a new offensive system now in place, his value to the team has only diminished. I would be surprised if he returns.
Mark Brunell: $910K (estimated)
It is no secret that the Jets want a component backup to compete with Sanchez. The experiment of having a veteran mentor behind Sanchez appeared to work in 2010, but Brunell was unable to halt any regression in Sanchez's game during his 2011 struggles. Brunell is all but gone.
Plaxico Burress: $1.75 million (estimated)
Did some nice things in the red zone, but had a hard time separating between the 20s. I still think he may undergo a Michael Vick-esque resurgence and would be a steal for any other team he goes to. Based on his comments and attitude in public, he will probably elect to avoid the Jets drama and go elsewhere
Bryan Thomas: $1.5 million (estimated)
Thomas suffered and ACL tear early in the season. Has always been a solid but unspectacular linebacker, and the Jets will want to get younger and more explosive at the position.
Even if he was healthy and under contact, the Jets would be looking for his replacement. It would be an upset if he returned.
Brodney Pool: $1.2 million (estimated)
Pool, for an unknown reason, took a lesser salary to stay in New York last season. His performance went down a peg in 2011, and so will his pay grade. The Jets should offer Pool a contract as a last resort, because they need to upgrade at free safety in the worst way.
Donald Strickland: $900K (estimated)
A physical slot corner that can play almost anywhere in the secondary, Strickland just had a hard time staying healthy. You could do a lot worse at the fourth corner spot, and he could be added back for depth. Whether he stays or not depends largely on how they feel about the development of Kyle Wilson.