When the New York Jets go free-agent shopping this offseason, new GM John Idzik will operate with a limited budget. He must avoid mistakes. He can’t afford them.
If the Jets cut Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Eric Smith and Jason Smith as projected, he’ll have $10 million to allocate between free-agent signings and the draft. Cutting Sione Pouha and Tim Tebow gives him $5 million more.
To make more cap room, Idzik will have to restructure or extend the contracts of veterans like Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis.
A limited budget means that the actions Idzik avoids are as significant as the actions he takes.
- Idzik must avoid free agents seeking expensive long-term contracts.
- Idzik must avoid free agents who can’t adapt to Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense.
- Idzik must avoid free agents with a history of injuries.
- Idzik must avoid free agents who might stir up the locker room.
- Idzik must avoid free agents who play positions in which the Jets are strong. That includes cornerback, defensive end and center.
It's going to be a challenge to find talented free agents who fit the Jets' budget. However, the projected franchise and transition tag numbers reveal that there is hope. Idzik might be able to find free agents in three areas of need without breaking the bank:
- A feature running back to replace Shonn Greene
- A safety to replace LaRon Landry
- A tight end to replace Dustin Keller
Other than kicker, these positions have the lowest franchise and transition tag values. These values are based on an average of a position's top five or 10 salaries. It's not unreasonable to assume that running back, tight end and safety have among the lowest wage scales in the NFL.
Good luck to Idzik finding players who will make the Jets younger, faster and capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Following are some players to avoid.