Missing Pieces the New York Jets Could Still Land
New general manager John Idzik faces significant work heading into New York Jets training camp this summer.
The team improved upon a few select areas of concern at the draft, where the new boss in town added beef and raw talent to the depth chart. The Jets' draft was highlighted by guys like Dee Milliner and Geno Smith, but the bulk was focused on solidifying the fronts.
Idzik added three offensive linemen (Brian Winters, Oday Aboushi, Will Campbell) and a defensive tackle (Sheldon Richardson) to insure sufficient depth at two problem areas from 2012.
Still, the Jets remain void of playmakers on offense and will likely begin the new season without a high-octane offensive scoring threat. This, in turn, means the Jets' ultimate objective before training camp should be to secure a durable playmaker who can increase the level of explosiveness on a stagnant offense.
The Jets should also target a veteran safety presence in the wake of losing LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency.
The following slideshow details four free agents that the Jets could still land in attempt to bolster roster depth and the team's overall talent pool:
Braylon Edwards (WR)
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Free agent wideout Braylon Edwards could serve the purpose of adding depth to the Jets receiving corps. He's not a difference-maker on offense, but the Jets are desperate for help.
Edwards isn't the formidable big-play threat that most assumed he would become after being selected third overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2005 draft. He failed to sustain an effective level of productivity in two stints on the West Coast with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks after initially leaving the Jets, although he's not entirely defective.
Edwards pulled down 10 catches for 125 yards in three starts with the Jets last season after being released from Seattle.
He's a veteran presence and a remnant of the Jets team that earned consecutive berths in the AFC title game. Edwards is also more talented than half of the receivers on the team's depth chart, creating the potential for a third stint in green and white.
Quintin Mikell (FS)
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The Jets opted to ignore arguably their most pressing need in the draft, electing not to pick a safety. That decision could prove shortsighted, barring the addition of a stopgap free agent, like Quintin Mikell.
The biggest problem engulfing the Jets into a free-agent tailspin this offseason has been salary-cap constraint, which was the exact reason as to why the St. Louis Rams opted to outright release Mikell, and his $9 million cap hit, back in March.
The Jets would be thickheaded not to at least make a phone call. He's destined to earn a fraction of what the Rams had signed him for.
Mikell is a proven veteran who could instantly fill a major void at free safety for the Jets. He's a former Pro Bowl-caliber talent who has recorded at least 75 tackles in each of the past three seasons.
Mikell forced four fumbles and recorded three sacks in 2012. He's a versatile defensive back who would help re-solidify a formidable secondary for the Jets.
Dallas Clark (TE)
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Free agent tight end Dallas Clark is a durable, receiving target who could be an effective fit in the Jets' new-look West Coast offense.
Clark has recorded at least 340 receiving yards in each season of his 10-year career. He reeled in 47 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. He started just seven games but proved himself capable of sustaining an impact at the age of 33.
The Jets have Jeff Cumberland slotted as the top tight end on the depth chart at the moment. Signing Clark would ease the pressure of being "the guy" at that position for Cumberland, while also adding veteran leadership to a roster seemingly decrepit of players possessing that trait.
The Jets ultimately need a pass-catching tight end to supply the offense with a reliable down-and-distance target. Clark could be that guy, but his price tag might be too steep for the Jets.
He remains unsigned as minicamps steadily approach, though, and could potentially be on Idzik's radar.
Josh Cribbs (WR)
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Special teams specialist and downfield receiving threat Josh Cribbs remains a free agent after suffering a meniscus tear that required surgery near the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Cribbs is a dynamic playmaker who never reached his potential in Cleveland. It's arguable that he was never properly utilized from an athletic standpoint. Cribbs has mostly been used as a kick returner, despite blazing speed that could be more aptly employed on offense.
He pulled down 41 catches for 518 yards in 2011 but was sporadically used as a receiver last season. He averaged 27.4 yards per kickoff return and 12 yards per punt return in 2012, demonstrating electric, speed burst ability.
The Jets ultimately need a player who can light up the scoreboard and alter the complexion of a game in an instant. Cribbs would be relatively inexpensive, given his supposed limited use and injury-recovery concern.