5 Candidates to Replace Shonn Greene for New York Jets
The New York Jets are engaging in a full-on rebuild. New general manager John Idzik was brought on board to right the ship after a disappointing 6-10 2012 season.
That rebuild isn't going to be easy, however, as according to ESPN's John Clayton the Jets are in the worst salary cap situation in the entire National Football League.
It also appears that that rebuild will include shopping for a new running back, as Rich Cimini of ESPN New York reports that free agent running back Shonn Greene, who led the team with 1,063 rushing yards last season, is "as good as gone."
If that indeed is the case, and Greene is finished with Gang Green, here's a look at a handful of potential replacements.
Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
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This one can be filed under wishful thinking, pipe dream or any any other metaphor you'd like to use for the idea of the New York Jets signing free agent running back Reggie Bush.
Sure, Bush gained over 1,200 total yards in 2012, and the seven-year veteran would be an excellent fit in new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's West-Coast offense.
With that said though the Jets are estimated to be nearly $20 million over the projected 2013 salary cap.
Some money can be freed up by releasing players and restructuring contracts, but it's not going to be enough to outbid other NFL clubs for Bush's services.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
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If the New York Jets are going to replace Shonn Greene in free agency, then it's likely going to be with a lower-tier free agent that comes at a cheaper sticker price.
This year's crop of those players includes Felix Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, who played in all 16 games last year for the first time in his five-year NFL career.
However, Jones battled a number of nagging injuries in 2012, and after managing only 3.6 yards a carry last year, interest in Jones on the open market is apt to be lukewarm at best.
That lack of interest may help drop Jones into the Jets' price range, and perhaps a change of scenery will help the 25-year-old recapture the explosiveness he displayed earlier in his career.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama
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It may well be that the future at running back for the New York Jets lies in the 2013 NFL draft, and the prospects at that position begin with Eddie Lacy of Alabama.
The 6'0", 220-pounder topped 1,500 total yards for the Crimson Tide in 2012, averaging over six yards a carry.
After starring in Alabama's victory over Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game Lacy's draft stock is on the rise.
Therein lies the problem for the Jets. At this point the odds that Lacy will make it to their second-pick are dropping, but as talented as Lacy may be spending a top-10 selection on him would be a reach.
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
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If the Jets want to address the tailback position early in the draft there are still options available even if Eddie Lacy is off the board.
The best of those options is probably Giovani Bernard of North Carolina.
The 205-pound redshirt sophomore rushed for over 1,200 yards, chipped in nearly 500 more on 47 catches and scored in every game for the Tar Heels in 2012.
That receiving ability would no doubt come in handy in the West Coast offense, and Bernard would add a degree of explosiveness to the New York ground game that has been missing for some time.
Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada
With Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins seemingly coming from nowhere to finish his rookie season second in the NFL in rushing, teams are scouring the later rounds looking for a diamond in the rough at running back.
Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson may fit that bill.
Jefferson was ridiculously productive in 2012, finishing the season second in the FBS in rushing while scoring 24 touchdowns for the Wolfpack.
Jefferson also has a very nice combination of size and speed, and while he's far from a sure thing, Jefferson could a very intriguing late-round flier.