Ranking New York Jets' Best Remaining Free Agent Options
Based on their extremely limited cap situation, no one expected the Jets to be big buyers in free agency this year, as much as it would have helped their depleted roster.
After watching a handful of key veterans sign with other teams and restructuring several veteran contracts, the Jets find themselves with some breathing room under the cap and plenty of holes to fill.
Most teams may be just about finished with their free-agent shopping, but the Jets still have plenty of moves to make to fill out their roster before the draft. Entering the draft with a glut of needs is like going grocery shopping with an empty stomach: You end up buying a lot of items that tend to lead to buyer's remorse.
Here is a list of free agents the Jets could still add in the coming weeks.
7. Felix Jones, RB
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The Jets did add running back depth with Mike Goodson, but the starting position remains wide open and there is always room or competition on John Idzik's team.
A former first-round pick by the Cowboys, Jones has always been a talented runner, but he has battled injuries throughout his career and has not been able to hold up as the feature back in Dallas' offense.
However, if used in a rotational role to give the Jets a boost and added depth, Jones could prove to be quite effective, as he has tremendous speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Still just 26 years old, Jones has not lost his speed and quickness just yet.
Jones has a connection to the Jets with quarterback coach David Lee, who was the offensive coordinator when Jones was at Arkansas.
So far, Idzik has not been afraid to take a chance on players with an injury history (see Willie Colon). If he can be had for cheap, Jones could be a nice addition to the Jets' anemic offense.
6. Charles Woodson, DB
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While he is not the player he was when he won the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year award, Woodson can be effective if used in a limited role as a nickel safety and cornerback. Woodson has excellent instincts from 16 years of NFL experience and thrives as a blitzer and in zone coverage.
Ideally, he would take over Eric Smith's role as a hybrid safety/corner that is a more effective blitzer with better ball skills.
However, it is unlikely that Woodson would want to sign with a rebuilding team at this point in his career and would demand more money than the Jets are probably willing to dole out.
Interest in Woodson appears to have waned in the two weeks since he was cut, but he should still be on the Jets' radar as a possible short-term solution to their safety problem if no one else picks him up.
5. Fred Davis, TE
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Before suffering an Achillies injury (while playing under the franchise tag for the Redskins), Davis was considered to be one of the top young tight ends in the NFL.
Unfortunately, as with all season-ending injuries, Davis' value has plummeted due to a combination of his recent injury and a crowded market. Davis remains unsigned and could be a tremendous bargain for the Jets if he can return at 100 percent.
As a player, Davis is a much better receiver than blocker and is known as a bit of a knucklehead off the field (he was suspended four games in 2011 for drug use), but he can be a matchup nightmare in the secondary—in other words, a younger, more explosive Dustin Keller.
Davis will likely sign a one-year deal to prove he can stay healthy, and perhaps the Jets are willing to do the same thing they did with LaRon Landry last year and allow an ex-Redskin to prove his worth before cashing it in on the open market 12 months later.
4. Kevin Boothe, OL
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Most recently seen with the Giants, seven-year veteran Boothe would be an ideal player that would give the Jets insurance in case Vladimir Ducasse is not able to seize one of the starting guard positions.
Boothe has the ability to play both tackle and guard, which would give the Jets flexibility in case of an injury. While he is a bit heavy-footed to play tackle, he is most effective inside at guard.
All indications point to Boothe not returning to the Giants, giving the Jets a chance to keep the Brooklyn native in the tri-state area.
3. Michael Huff, DB
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The Jets find themselves back in the familiar safety market after they were unable to retain either of last year's starting safeties (LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell) on top of releasing nickel safety and special teams ace Eric Smith.
Huff was a cap casualty in Oakland, but he can still be an effective player if used in the right role. With experience at cornerback, Huff would excel in Eric Smith's former role as a third-down specialist in nickel packages.
If the Jets plan on starting two of their sophomore players in Josh Bush and Antonio Allen next year, Huff would provide them with insurance in case it becomes clear that one of them is not ready to start in the NFL just yet.
Rex Ryan has never needed superior talent from the safety position; he needs versatility. Huff would be able to bring that versatility while providing depth and insurance to a virtually bare position while John Idzik shops for young prospects to bring to the position.
2. Dawan Landry, S
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The Jets were unable to retain Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry, so why not just go out and get his older brother instead?
Most recently cut by the Jaguars, Dawan played for Rex Ryan (and new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman) during his Baltimore days. Dawan had actually played a role in bringing his younger brother a gig with the Jets.
Like his brother, Dawan is not known for his abilities in coverage, but he could play a similar role to Yeremiah Bell as an in-the-box safety that brings a veteran presence to the position. After all, with no proven starting safeties on the roster and a shrinking market, the Jets are not in a position to be picky as to who they sign over the next few days.
1. Victor Butler, LB
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The Jets were able to soften the need for an outside linebacker after adding Antwan Barnes, but there remains a gaping hole at one side of the defense that simply cannot be ignored. If the Jets continue to neglect this position, they will almost be forced to use their first-round pick on the position in April's draft.
Butler played in a rotational role in Dallas in Rob Ryan's 3-4, but he is not a fit for Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. The four-year pro has upside as a pass-rusher and can play in space.
However, Butler will be rather expensive for a non-starter, as at least three teams, including the Jets, are reportedly in the mix for his services, driving up his price. The fact that he left the Saints facility, where his former coach Rob Ryan is the defensive coordinator, is telling that money if Butler's top priority.
The Jets do have a bit more cap room to work with, so spending a bit extra to ensure they have two starters on the depth chart could very well be worth it.