Nineteen players from the 2012 Jets roster are eligible for some form of free agency. These are the more prominent names:
- Starting safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell
- Starting guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson
- Tight ends Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland
- Wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Chaz Schilens
- Starting running back Shonn Greene
- Starting tackle Austin Howard
- Starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito
- Kicker Nick Folk
- Starting outside linebacker Bryan Thomas
- Starting fullback Lex Hilliard
In 2012, the Jets' free agents' base salaries totaled approximately $16.4 million. Total cap value totaled about $22.2 million. Some players signed for partial seasons while others were playing under the veterans' minimum exception. Otherwise, the cap value would have been higher.
As of March 4, the Jets were approximately $8.3 million under the cap. In other words, they'd need much more cap room to re-sign everyone at 2012 levels.
Idzik has difficult choices to make. Unless he clears more room, he'll have to pass on some key players. For example, he'd pass on 12 of 19 players if he used the recommendations that follow.
In 2012, the seven players this article recommends he sign consumed about $5 million in base salary and $6.8 million in cap room. If there are no dramatic raises, the Jets could actually afford them.
That could change depending on the size of tenders for restricted free agents Jeff Cumberland and Austin Howard. They might break Idzik's bank. All the more reason for him to persist in increasing cap room. Plus, they still have draftees to sign and other free agents to pursue.
We can't solve all of Idzik's problems at once. We'll look at the Jets’ own free agents first, from the least experienced exclusive free agents to a Pro Bowler.
Unless otherwise indicated, the source for player statistics is pro-football-reference.com and the source for 2012 salary and cap information is nyjetscap.com. For a description of NFL free-agent categories, see "NFL Free Agency 101."