New York Jets: Rebuilding Is the Best Path, but How Should It Be Done? Part 2
Hey Bleacher Report! Fun game last night? Yeah, this article's placement in time could not be much more ideal. After a humiliating loss filled with lost hope, coaching gaffes and player mistakes, it's nice to know that the end could be near.
In my last article, I talked about the need for the Jets to rebuild in the sense of new management and coaching. You can view that article here. Of course, aspiring to one day be an NFL general manager, I also have my own projected moves for the offseason in terms of player personnel. Here we go:
On Offense...With Jon Gruden hopefully taking over as head coach, and Norv Turner taking over the offense, we now see the great need for a quarterback. How are we going to get one? The running back system needs to be improved: keep a two- or three-headed running back committee like every other team has. The Jets need a wide receiver who can separate and move down the field. The offensive line is in shambles: Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore should not be starting anymore and Austin Howard has not been serviceable.
On Defense...Assuming that the Jets do get rid of Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine, there are a lot of paths that this defense can go. If somehow Ron Rivera is fired from Carolina's head coaching position and the Jets do lure him, look for the Jets to keep a 3-4, similar to the one he employed as a San Diego Charger.
With that in mind, the Jets have a tremendous need at outside linebacker (times two) and at inside linebacker. Assuming Yeremiah Bell retires, the Jets will need a safety or two, depending on LaRon Landry. A nickel cornerback is also a need.
Yeremiah Bell: Retires.
I think he wants a ring, but if he says that age is catching up too quickly, the Jets will say goodbye to a strength of this season. If he does not retire, look for the Jets to feed him another one-year deal at a fully guaranteed $2 million.
Mike DeVito: Three years, $8million.
He has been the Jets' best run-stopper all season and would be an essential defensive tackle in the Jets' system. Take him out on obvious passing downs and switch him for Quinton Coples, but keep him in for running plays. He has played with a lot of fire and flash this season.
Nick Folk: Two years, $3 million.
He has looked great this season kicking the ball, he hasn't shanked any field goals yet and his kickoff skills have gotten better. He shouldn't lose a job because he let up that kick return touchdown against New England.
Shonn Greene: One year, $5.5 million.
The running back market this season is the best it's ever been this offseason. As a result, Shonn Greene will likely take a short term deal with the Jets so he can cash in big in a year. Hopefully the Jets do not fall for Shonn Greene, as he is currently pulling off a "Contract Year" trick and is playing better than he normally would. It would be painful to see them throw a four- or five-year contract his direction.
Dustin Keller: Three years, $13 million.
He's a good tight end, if you don't factor in the Seattle game. As the sixth best tight end reaching the market, interest will be pretty low. I see him reaching free agency, taking a visit or two, and then re-signing with the Jets.
LaRon Landry: Four years, $21 million.
This re-signing is priority No. 1 int he re-sign phase. He has been absolutely dynamite this season. He has kept up with Rob Gronkowski in their lone matchup, he is a huge factor in the run game and his crazy hits have turned the defense around. Keep him at all costs in an incentive-laden contract.
Aaron Maybin: Walk.
He has been a complete non-factor this season and it doesn't even matter if the Jets move to the 4-3 full time or they stay with the 3-4. He will not be able to revive his career with a second-rate defensive coordinator (assuming the Jets fire Rex Ryan and his "cabinet").
Brandon Moore: Two years, $3 million.
Hopefully Brandon Moore gives a hometown discount. Regardless of what has happened to his play, he is still a serviceable guard and it would be nice to keep that unit close together at times like these. Even if he is the "sixth man" of the offensive line, he'd still be one of the more important contributors. Think Donald Driver or Hines Ward type of player.
Chaz Schilens: Three years, $3 million.
If Chaz Schilens is kept as the fourth receiver, I'll be a happy camper. If the Jets try to keep him and use him as the No. 2 or 3 receiver, then they are making the wrong decision. He has decent hands, fast feet, and has a great height advantage. Keep him in New York, especially if the Jets move to a spread offense.
Matt Slauson: Walk.
I really do like him but he just hasn't been the same since his offseason surgery. I chose to keep one of Slauson and Brandon Moore, and I choose Moore, for the sake of leadership. He'll test the free agent market and will likely receive a good showing from some offensively weak teams.
Bryan Thomas: Walk.
I just don't see any leadership from him anymore and he really is on his last legs. It was a great career for him, but it's time to say goodbye.
Jay Richardson: Walk.
If Sione Pouha and Kenrick Ellis can get over the injury bug, Jay Richardson will have little room on the defensive line. Perhaps he'll be invited to Jets training camp, but I don't see them re-signing him in March.
Now let's move onto the restricted free agents:
Jeff Cumberland: Walk.
He is a decent receiving tight end and has been on the team for two years. If he does not perform this year, give up and don't bring him back, but for now, he deserves a shot.
Austin Howard: Walk.
The Jets can afford to pay him as a second string right tackle. If any team tries to raise the offer, let Howard go. The Jets can rebuild without him.
Josh Mauga: One year, 1.26 million.
The Jets should keep Mauga; he's a special teams guy who has been pretty successful in spotty defensive duty. I think he could be an important asset to a 4-3 defense, coming in as first backup strong-side linebacker (aka "Sam" or "SLB").
Tanner Purdum: One year, $750,000.
There have been very few special teams gaffes as a result of a mistake from Purdum. Although there are millions of fine long snappers, just keep him.
Here are the Jets' other transactions
Bart Scott: Cut.
He just isn't the same player and isn't worth the money he will receive. Cut ties with him.
Jason Smith: Cut.
He is due to make $12 million next year, and if they cut him, they recover every dollar.
Calvin Pace: Restructured.
His ego isn't as large as Bart Scott's. He wants to renegotiate so he can remain a Jet for his career. Instead of making over $8 million next year (in which case he would be cut), he receives a guaranteed $3.5 million.
With the Jets retaining most of their free agents, it's now time to assess their needs.
Quarterback: No matter who will finish out this season, nobody is getting the job done properly.
Running Back: There will be three running backs on the roster (Greene, Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell). At the end of 2014, only one running back will remain (Powell). An early-to-mid-round pick on a running back in the draft might be the best route. Or the Jets could wait for a big prospect to spring up in the 2014 draft, such as Joseph Randle.
Wide Receiver: I don't trust Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill as the top two receivers. Jeremy Kerley is a great slot receiver, and should be kept as the No. 3, but the Jets need to somehow unload Santonio Holmes and pick up a young wide receiver.
Blocking Tight End: Konrad Reuland has been blocking pretty well, but assuming he hits free agency, the Jets will need another blocking tight end to fill in his shoes. Perhaps Hayden Smith?
Offensive Guard: While the Jets would keep Brandon Moore in this situation, there is no reason why the Jets should be content with him starting, lest they want their quarterback on the ground. That means that there are two opening at the offensive guard position.
Offensive Tackle: Regardless of Austin Howard's fate, this position must be fixed. There are very few great right tackles in the NFL, and a lot of average ones. There aren't many good replacement options, but if the Jets want to truly rebuild, they have time to find a tackle.
What do you think so far?
Outside Linebacker: In a 3-4 defense, the Jets will need two. Calvin Pace isn't getting the job done and at this point would just be a change of pace. Besides that, there are no other outside linebackers on the roster. The Jets are definitely going to need to fix this position in the next year if they plan on being competitive.
Inside Linebacker: If the Jets go the 4-3 route (which they very well might), then this need just becomes the need for another MLB who is able to play on the outside (an SLB or a WLB). If the Jets do keep the 3-4 defense, then another ILB to complement David Harris's game is a must. This can be solved in free agency on the cheap side.
Nickelback: Kyle Wilson has been a complete embarrassment this season. He cannot keep up with other teams's No. 1, 2 or 3 receivers. Look for the Jets to draft a cornerback in the middle rounds of the draft.
Safety: Even if Yeremiah Bell retires, the Jets have impressive depth everywhere here. Although I'd prefer to see LaRon Landry return to his more comfortable SS position, I don't foresee him moving to SS. In that case, the Jets need to sign a strong safety who can learn the Jets' playbook and become a leader. Depending on who the new defensive coordinator is, I'd expect somebody to follow the defensive coordinator to the Jets. You'll probably see a Day-2 pick spent on one in a safety-heavy draft.
Now with all of that said, I'll be back in part 3 of this long series to go to free agency and the Draft. Expect surprises, as there are sure to be some. Thanks for reading!
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