5 Moves the New York Jets Should Have Made This Offseason
Most people would say the New York Jets had a pretty effective offseason.
Coming off a surprising 8-8 season that saw the team compete for a postseason spot in a weak AFC, the Jets were expected to add to a young, talented roster in an attempt to make the next step in 2014.
John Idzik and Co. did just that, as they brought in a talented and productive wide receiver in Eric Decker, an explosive running back in Chris Johnson and a high-end backup in Michael Vick in free agency, as well as a hard-hitting safety and an NFL-ready tight end in the draft.
However, the Jets didn't make all the moves necessary for the team to emerge as serious contenders in the AFC next season.
Whether it be not using their cap space to full effect or making the most out of their league-high draft selections, Gang Green made some mistakes that they may come to regret in the near-future.
With that said, here are five moves New York should have made this offseason but failed to do so.
All salary cap information has been provided by Spotrac.
Retain Antonio Cromartie
Antonio Cromartie didn't have a good season last year. In fact, a case could be made that he had a near-terrible one.
Cromartie was constantly beaten by opposing receivers, and despite recording three interceptions, he was among the team's weakest defensive players.
The reason for Cromartie's struggles was not a monumental dip in his talent-level but rather a nagging hip injury that hindered all aspects of his game.
With an entire offseason to recover, Cromartie should be able to return to form in 2014, as he's still in his prime at the age of 30.
However, despite the Jets' need for veteran pieces on defense, the team decided to let the former Pro Bowler walk in free agency.
With Cromartie out of the picture, the Jets signed Dimitri Patterson to a contract that could end up being $3 million over the course of the year if the injury-prone former Dolphin manages to stay healthy.
Any way you spin it, though, Cromartie is a superior player to Patterson, and the Jets had more than enough cap space to re-sign him.
Unless the Jets had the inside scoop that Cromartie's injury is more than it appeared, the decision to let him walk was a questionable one.
Extend Muhammad Wilkerson to a Long-Term Contract
The Jets began the offseason with a truckload of cap room, and they still have much of that remaining as the period comes to a close.
While much of this money should have been and was spent on bringing in free agents, it also needed to be used to guarantee the team retains some of their cornerstone players for the coming years.
Muhammad Wilkerson is the first of these young guns who should be given a large contract extension, as he has proven in his three years in Green and White that he is among the game's most complete and dominant defensive ends.
Wilkerson's coming off a double-digit sack campaign in which he led one of the NFL's best rush defenses, and he only continues to improve as the years go by.
The 24-year-old had his team option for 2015 picked up this offseason, but New York would be smart to extend him to a long-term deal before the season starts.
Wilkerson's value will only go up, so the Jets might as well get a deal in the works as we speak. They certainly have the cap space to make it happen.
Sign a Cheap Veteran Wide Receiver in Free Agency
New York made the move to spend a lot of money on Eric Decker, and I firmly believe it was the right one.
Decker is a reliable outside receiver with underrated speed and great size, and he's shown time and time again that he's a dangerous threat in the red zone.
However, the Jets would have been smart to complement Decker with a veteran possession receiver who could give Geno Smith another reliable target.
Wideouts such as Steve Smith, Jerricho Cotchery, and James Jones were all available in free agency, and each signed for $4 million or less a season.
The Jets had the cap space to bring in any given receiver among that trio, but the team took the conservative approach and decided to address the No. 2 receiver spot in-house.
That's a bold move, as Stephen Hill has yet to show he can live up to his immense physical potential, and David Nelson and Jacoby Ford likely aren't capable of manning down the position.
The team may regret not signing a veteran receiver in free agency when the season rolls around in September.
Traded Up for One of Several Talented WRs in the Second and Third Round
The Jets entered the draft with a league-high 12 draft picks, and to everyone's surprise, they used each and every one of their selections.
Now, quantity and depth are always major pluses in the NFL, but there's a good chance that four or five of those picks don't even make the final roster.
New York would have been better off packaging some of their mid-to-late-round draft picks in a trade to move up in the second and third rounds to grab one of the many talented wideouts that had inexplicably tumbled down draft boards.
Marqise Lee (39th overall pick), Jordan Matthews (42nd overall pick), Jarvis Landry (63rd overall pick) and Donte Moncrief (90th overall pick) are just some of the high-upside receivers Gang Green could have swapped multiple picks to move up and take.
With picks in every round and an incredible three fourth-round selections, the Jets could have offered multiple draft picks to a team with many holes to fill to move into their slot.
But once again, John Idzik and Co. took the conservative approach and didn't make any flashy moves on draft weekend.
Brought in Some Veteran Leadership on Defense
Gang Green spent the offseason loading up on the offensive side of the ball, largely ignoring the defense.
Outside of re-signing Calvin Pace and drafting Louisville safety Calvin Pryor in the first round, New York didn't make any major moves to bring in reinforcements on the defensive end.
However, the Jets would have significantly benefited from one or two veteran players on their defensive depth chart.
Right now, New York's defense is one of the youngest and most inexperienced in the entire league.
The team has eight players 25 and under that are expected to start in Week 1, with only Calvin Pace, David Harris and Dimitri Patterson being the exceptions.
It's unclear if inexperience will be a weakness for the defense, but one thing's for sure—veteran leadership is never a bad thing.
Bringing in a player like Jim Leonhard (a Rex Ryan favorite), James Harrison or Asante Samuel would add experience and depth to the team, with little cost.
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