New York Jets Rumors: Fact or Fiction with the Latest News Ahead of Free Agency
With NFL free agency just days away, it is inevitable that news and rumors will begin to leak from agents and teams who are trying to gain leverage.
The tricky part is deciphering which pieces of news are legitimate and which are nothing but smokescreens and ploys.
Given their large projected cap space, the Jets figure to be active in free agency this season. As a result, they will be linked to a lot of big-name players, particularly at the offensive skill positions.
Here are some of the latest news and rumors swirling around Florham Park as the Jets head toward free agency.
Advanced stats provided by Pro Football Focus.
Fact: Jets Interested in Emmanuel Sanders
With Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper off the market, the Jets must set their sights a bit lower on the second tier of free-agent receivers. Their interest starts with Emmanuel Sanders, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
While a bit overshadowed by his counterpart Antonio Brown, Sanders has been productive for the Steelers in taking over Hines Ward's role. Coming off a solid 740-yard season, Sanders can be an upper-level No. 2 receiver.
The cash-strapped Steelers were able to keep him from hitting free agency on a one-year tender, but they can no longer afford to hang onto all of their veterans.
The problem for the Jets is that the lack of a dominant receiver on the open market will inflate the value of everyone else. Sanders has the talent of a No. 2 but will want to be paid like a lower-level No. 1.
He will likely have plenty of suitors, but if the Jets are willing to overpay a bit, he could wind up in New York.
Fiction: Ed Reed Will Return
As much as Rex Ryan loves to pump up the value of his longtime friend and Hall of Fame-caliber safety, it seems unlikely that Ed Reed will take a second tour of duty with the Jets in 2014.
Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com calls the return of Reed a "long shot" despite Ryan's affinity for the veteran. He did notch three interceptions late in the season, but he looked like a shadow of himself for the majority of the time he was on the field. He allowed as many big plays to go over his head as anyone on the Jets.
They would be wise not to bring him back. He may have acted as a mentor to some of the young players, but he also ate up an alarming amount of playing time from up-and-comer Antonio Allen.
In fact, with Allen developing nicely and Dawan Landry under contract for one more season, it seems unlikely that the Jets would make any big changes at the safety position in 2014.
Fact: Jets Are Interested in a Free-Agent Running Back
Given the uncertainty of Mike Goodson's ACL injury, the fact that the Jets are interested in bringing in another body at the running back position as insurance is no surprise.
What is a surprise, however, is the caliber of player that they are interested in acquiring. A year after making a trade for Chris Ivory, they are interested in some of the top runners on the market, particularly Ben Tate and Donald Brown, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com.
Brown is coming off the best season of his career, stealing the starting job away from newly acquired Trent Richardson. Tate has never been a statistical workhorse because of Arian Foster's presence, but his career 4.7 yards per carry is impressive.
There is no question that they would be welcome additions to the backfield, but the Jets must be careful about allocating too many resources to a position that already has some talent. In 2013, both Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory proved worthy of being starting-caliber runners.
After all, every dollar they spend at the running back position is a dollar taken away from a more pressing need.
Fiction: David Garrard Will Return
The Jets seem to be in the market for a veteran quarterback to compete with Geno Smith, but it probably won't be David Garrard, who spent about half of the season on the inactive list in 2013.
Rich Cimini notes that the Jets will likely look for a "younger, more viable backup." Garrard is 36, which means that the "younger" player could be just about any other free agent.
The biggest things that have hampered him late in his career are his chronically injured knees, which forced him to leave the team in the summer before rejoining in October of last year. Garrard may still be a desperate fall-back option, but the Jets are looking to find someone who is more reliable at the position.
Fact: Jets Want to Bring Back Leger Douzable
While most of the attention will be on Austin Howard in terms of the Jets keeping their own free agents, defensive end Leger Douzable proved to be a valuable asset in his own right.
He is the odd man out in a crowded group of talented defensive linemen on the Jets, but he was productive in his rotational role. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he had 13 stops, eight quarterback hurries, two hits and three sacks—impressive numbers for someone who only played 242 snaps.
As a result, it is no surprise that the Jets are trying to keep their outstanding defensive end rotation intact:
Also heard today the Jets would like to bring back backup DL Leger Douzable, who will be a free agent. He had a nice 2013 for them.— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) February 27, 2014
The Jets should pray that no one else has noticed his play, because he has earned an opportunity to start elsewhere. Unless he is willing to take a discount to remain a backup (who would?), there is a good chance that he could end up in another uniform next season, unless the Jets don't mind paying their backup end mid-level starter money.
Fiction: Willie Colon Is a Top Priotity
Veteran guard Willie Colon proved to be one of many quality bargain free-agent signings in 2013. The former Pittsburgh Steeler was excellent in pass protection, allowing one sack all season. Pro Football Focus rated him the fourth-best guard in protection last season.
However, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini, the Jets see Colon as a "fallback option," and he may have to enter free agency to get a contract.
The Jets have some young talent at guard after selecting William Campbell (22) and Oday Aboushi (22) in the draft last year, but they weren't active for a single game. Either the Jets are much higher on their youngsters than their playing time indicates, or they are taking a massive gamble that could come back to haunt them if they don't find another veteran to fill the position.
It is possible that Colon could come back to the Jets, but it appears unlikely that the Jets will lock him up before the start of free agency.
Fact: Return of Calvin Pace Is Likely
After enjoying one of the more unlikely career rejuvenations in football, 33-year-old linebacker Calvin Pace appears to have earned at least one more chance to stay with the Jets.
According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, the team met with his representatives at the NFL combine, expressing interest in retaining the veteran.
After a horrendous 2012 season that led to his release, Pace was brought back as a desperation stopgap and gave the Jets great value in return. He notched a career-high 10 sacks and will be looking for a raise from his $1 million salary as a result.
He was not quite as dominant as a pass-rusher as the stats suggest, but there is no denying that he was a better all-around player in 2013, contributing to the team's third-ranked run defense and playing much better in coverage when asked to do so.
It appears as if Pace and the Jets will eventually come to an agreement, as not many other NFL teams are looking for outside linebackers in their 30s. The only question is whether or not the Jets are willing to pay him like a 10-sack player despite his age.
Fact: Santonio Holmes Will Be Released
What has been inevitable for almost a full year is about to come to fruition, as the Jets are set to release their top wide receiver Santonio Holmes, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
He was set up to be released before the 2013 season even started, but a pedestrian 456-yard injury-plagued campaign only made it easier on the Jets to release their once-studly wideout. He is set to earn a base salary of $8.25 million in 2014, and the Jets are much better off using that money on younger, less-troubled wideouts as they being to rebuild the offense.
Even the man who gave Holmes a $50 million contract agrees that he has yet to live up to his contract.
Holmes still has a good amount of football left in him and is a tremendous talent when his mind is engaged and he can stay off the trainer's table. Unfortunately for the Jets, he was unable to do either for an extended period in New York.