The New York Jets may be in the market for a new starting running back this offseason as Chris Ivory hits free agency.
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Ivory Prefers to Stay with Jets
Monday, Feb. 1
ESPN.com's Rich Cimini reported Monday "indicators suggest" Ivory will sign with a new team in the coming months.
Speaking with NFL Network's Around The NFL (via NFL.com's Conor Orr) ahead of the Pro Bowl, the 27-year-old running back discussed the realities facing both himself and the Jets:
I'm not sure what's going to happen. I would like to stay in New York if we reach an agreement. But I know the cap space they're working with and everything and the other guys they have to get signed or want to get signed back. But if it doesn't work out, I'm just looking forward to continuing my career elsewhere if it happens to go that way.
Ivory's 1,070 rushing yards were the most by a Jets back since Thomas Jones' 1,402-yard season in 2009 and the highest total in the AFC in 2015.
Cimini explained, however, why the team may be willing to let him walk this spring: "The Jets have seven starters heading to free agency, and Ivory probably is no higher than fourth on the priority list. With only $14 million in projected cap space (a loose projection at this point), there's no way to retain every good player. You get the feeling Ivory can read the handwriting on the wall."
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller argued the Jets' biggest offseason need is upgrading the offensive line, which would take a chunk of that available $14 million:
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Ivory's final numbers are somewhat deceiving since he ran for 460 yards (42.9 percent of his yearly total) in his first four games. After his 146-yard Week 6 outburst, he eclipsed the century mark only once more, and in the Jets' final three games, he combined to carry the ball 30 times for 156 yards.
This year was the first time Ivory was the unquestioned feature back in the Jets backfield after he split his time with Bilal Powell in 2013 and then Chris Johnson in 2014. Given his second-half swoon, it's fair to wonder whether Ivory can succeed as a No. 1 RB, especially since he turns 28 in March.
Ivory won't be paid like one of the league's elite running backs, but he's due a raise on the $2 million base salary he earned in 2015.
Since the Jets won't have a lot of money to spare this offseason, general manager Mike Maccagnan may determine that the money necessary for an Ivory extension would be better spent elsewhere.