With final roster cuts being announced later today, the New York Jets' front office will be busy scouring the waiver wires for players to add depth to the team. The Jets have a fairly deep roster—especially on defense—and their offseason position battles have been competitive.
Nevertheless, there are a few spots left on the roster that could use a boost through free agency. Often the refuse of another team can be beneficial. A prime example from last year is linebacker Aaron Maybin, who was released by the Buffalo Bills in the 2011 offseason.
Here are 11 players who are currently or are likely to become free agents. The Jets should take a look at these guys and consider signing them before their Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills.
The first place the Jets should address is their offensive line. While they have some quality starters, they are severely lacking in depth. Robert Turner—their best and most versatile backup—is now on the St. Louis Rams. Newly acquired backup tackle Jason Smith may or may not be a viable option.
Jets fans saw in 2011 how important offensive line depth is after star center Nick Mangold went down with an injury in Week 2.
The Jets front office should take a look at Deuce Lutui. He was released by the Seattle Seahawks, who decided to go with rookie J.R. Sweezy instead. Lutui—a former second-round pick—played for six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
After drafting offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round, the Detroit Lions are very deep at tackle. Gosder Cherilus—their 2008 first round draft bust—might be getting cut. If he gets cut, the Jets should take a look at him.
Similar to Jason Smith, Cherilus is a talented player who has not seen success yet in the NFL. He is still very young and could be a solid backup or a project player.
Update: It looks like Cherilus will remain on the Lions' roster, at least for today.
Alex Barron is one last offensive tackle to consider for the offensive line. Originally a first round draft pick in 2005, Barron is now looking for a job in the eighth year of his career.
Barron has played in 87 games so far in his NFL career, and at age 29 he might still have some gas left in the tank. The Jets will likely be considering one or more offensive linemen for depth and insurance. Hopefully they will do their due diligence now that the Seattle Seahawks have released Barron.
Taking a step over to tight end, the Jets should look at Chris Cooley. A three-time Pro Bowler, Cooley was recently released by the Washington Redskins after eight years of service.
With the injury to Josh Baker, the Jets could potentially use Cooley to fill the same niche. Both players can catch the ball and can play tight end and fullback.
Moving on to wide receivers, the Jets could use more depth. Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley have both been dealing with minor injuries. Other than them—along with Patrick Turner and Stephen Hill—the Jets do not have much at the position.
After leading the NFC in receiving yards and making the Pro Bowl in 2006, wide receiver Roy Williams' career has taken a downturn. He spent the 2011 season with the Chicago Bears. At 6'3'' and with his physical talents, he could still add depth to the Jets offense.
Branch would be an upgrade over several of the receivers on the Jets' roster. If he becomes available, the Jets should pounce on him.
Branch has spent 10 seasons in the NFL since being drafted in the second round in 2002. He was the Super Bowl XXXIX champion after the 2004 season.
Though he somehow never made a Pro Bowl team, he has been a solid contributor every year he has been in the league.
Update: Deion Branch was released by the Patriots this morning.
Patriots released WR Deion Branch.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 31, 2012
The Jets are still lacking in deep threats. Rookie Stephen Hill is their only true deep threat, and he is still raw. Having a second deep option on the team—even a less than perfect one—would add value to the offense.
The St. Louis Rams recently cut wide receiver Danario Alexander. With 18 games of experience over two seasons in the NFL, Alexander has shown potential. However, the Rams decided to give up on him when he suffered a hamstring injury.
Either now or later in the season, Alexander will end up on an NFL roster again. The Jets—who could use a young 6'5'' receiver—should consider being the team to pick him up.
In case the point has not yet been made the clear, the Jets could use another wide receiver. A last option to consider is undrafted rookie Patrick Edwards. He has spent the offseason with the Detroit Lions, and it is unclear whether or not he will make the final cut.
Edwards went undrafted due to injury. However, scouts considered him a viable option as a slot receiver in the NFL.
You may have noticed that I did not list any defensive players. The Jets defense is deep at all three levels, and New York is unlikely to upgrade it at this point through free agency. However, there is still improvement to be made in special teams.
The last player the Jets should consider is kicker Neil Rackers. Formerly considered one of the best kickers in the NFL, Rackers was an All-Pro kicker in 2005. Now 36 years old and recently cut by the Washington Redskins, it is unclear whether or not Rackers will be picked up by an NFL team.
Nick Folk—the current kicker for the Jets—has been shaky at times and definitely did not prove himself to be the kicker of the future for the Jets this offseason. Bringing in Rackers at least for a competition would be worthwhile.