Players the New York Jets Must Re-Sign This Offseason
New York Jets general manager John Idzik and his brain trust have a daunting offseason agenda looming ahead before minicamps start up in the spring.
The Jets are deficient at several key areas of personnel and need to be succinct in appropriately allocating limited funds toward players capable of being difference-makers next season.
The Jets' dire salary cap situation will prevent them from being competitive in free agency, which means the team is going to fill most voids through the 2013 NFL draft. In addition to replenishing the roster with an influx of youth on draft day, the Jets need to re-sign a handful of proven veterans.
This slideshow details five in-house free agents that the Jets must re-sign this offseason:
Nick Folk (K)
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The Jets flirted with the idea of finding a kicker more capable than Nick Folk last season, but a lame-duck attempt to spur competition at that position made it apparent that it's unnecessary to replace the team's veteran kicker at this juncture.
Folk has proved himself to be a reliable kicker that has the ability to drill clutch kicks through the uprights from significant distance. The experienced place kicker has converted at least 76 percent of his field-goal attempts in three seasons with the Jets and should reclaim his role with a one-year deal in 2013.
Folk made eight of 11 kicks attempted from 40 yards or farther last season and was ironically perfect from beyond that distance in games the Jets lost. Aside from conversion percentage, his stats are inflated irrelevancies because the Jets offense was arguably the worst in the NFL in 2012, despite finishing third to last in that category.
Folk hardly had the chance to put points on the scoreboard for the Jets last season, but is ultimately consistent and dependable, which is all a head coach can ask for in a kicker.
He split the uprights on 77.8 percent of field-goals attempted in 2012, his highest conversion rate since 2008 when he nailed 90.9 percent of his kicks for the Cowboys.
Matt Slauson (OG)
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The Jets can’t afford to lose both of their starting guards in an offseason where the team is scarce for talent.
Left guard Slauson is durable and dependable. Right guard Brandon Moore is overpriced and over the hill. Slauson played in all 16 regular-season games in each of the past three seasons and has consistently demonstrated above-average blocking ability.
The team has been devastated by inconsistency on the offensive front, enabling the most turnover-prone quarterback in the NFL. The Jets offensive line ranked fifth in run blocking last season, according to Football Outsiders, but failed to provide protection for the quarterback, finishing third to last ahead of the Packers and Chargers.
Slauson isn’t a top-tier lineman capable of mounting pancake blocks on premier defensive tackles at will, but he’s able to stand his ground at 315 pounds. He'll be a viable option for teams looking to upgrade the left side of their offensive line this offseason, which could drive up his price tag and deter the Jets from re-signing him.
Failing to re-sign Slauson could dissolve the left side of the O-line, though. The Jets have needs at several key positions and shouldn't use two draft picks on offensive guards, and they won't be able to find a suitable replacement in free agency because they're strapped for cash.
Yeremiah Bell (SS)
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Yeremiah Bell arguably had his best season as a pro in his first season with the Jets in 2012. The 34-year-old safety ranked third on the team with 72 total tackles. He also tallied three fumble recoveries and a sack.
Bell was a formidable complement to hard-hitting safety LaRon Landry, as the tandem combined for 147 total tackles last season.
It's highly unlikely for the team to retain Landry for 2013, though. The fact that the Jets are deep into financial abyss has been beaten into the ground over the course of the past two months, but it's an alarming scenario that begs the question of how competitive the team will be next season.
The Jets need to inject the element of youth into a depleted roster, but they also need to maintain a steady dose of veteran leadership. Bell can supply that and then some on defense. He's proved himself to be a prominent force in the secondary when healthy.
Bell flaunted undying determination en route to a stellar season. Teams looking for an experienced strong safety to anchor their defensive backfield next season could look toward Bell, but he should be a priority for the Jets.
It'd be a smart decision to re-sign the experienced safety for another one-year deal.
Braylon Edwards (WR)
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Braylon Edwards just seems to fit in with the New York Jets. He was considered defective and incapable after the Seahawks cut the former No. 2 wideout for essentially defending Mark Sanchez on Twitter.
It would be surprising for New York not to re-sign the man infamous for doing backflips on the New England Patriots' home turf when the green and white pulled off a miraculous upset in the divisional playoffs three seasons ago, but not because of his acrobatics or Twitter prowess.
Edwards should be back in uniform for the Jets next season. He was a consistent downfield target in his first stint with the Jets when he pulled down 11 touchdowns on over 1,400 yards receiving in 28 regular-season games.
Edwards was also effective in the final three games of the 2012 season after the Jets claimed him off waivers. He compiled 10 receptions on 18 targets for 125 receiving yards, displaying signs of athleticism that had been absent from his game play over most of the previous two seasons.
He's a low-cost, high-reward brand of free agent from the Jets' standpoint. Sanchez could potentially reclaim his inherent position as Jets starting quarterback, which is seemingly unfortunate for the team, although Edwards maintains solid chemistry with the embattled quarterback and should reclaim his former role as the team's No. 2 wideout in 2013.
Mike DeVito (DE)
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Mike DeVito has steadily emerged to become a perennial force on the Jets defensive front. His size and versatility gives him the intangibles necessary to grow into an elite NFL pass-rusher.
DeVito is arguably the most important free agent that the Jets need to sign this offseason. The Jets defense in 2013 has the potential to reclaim its reputation as an effective pass-rushing machine if DeVito is retained and Quinton Coples continues to develop, in addition to likely drafting a premier outside linebacker.
Re-signing DeVito needs to be near the top of the Jets offseason wish list. The 28-year-old beast is quick off the edge, enabling him to penetrate into the backfield before ball-carriers reach the line of scrimmage.
He's especially effective against the run, rarely allowing tailbacks to reach the corner and turn upfield. He tallied three stuffs and two forced fumbles to complement his 27 solo tackles in 2012.
DeVito will command significant interest on the market this offseason, which means the Jets face substantial competition in retaining one of their best defensive linemen. He's a solid fit in the 3-4 base defense and has steadily developed under the leadership of head coach Rex Ryan.
The Jets highly value DeVito, but it remains to be seen how much cash he's actually worth to the team's brain trust.