The 2009 New York Jets season certainly had its ups and downs. More appropriately, it should be called a "roller-coaster ride," that ended with a trip to the AFC Championship Game.
The Jets have a solid foundation of young players to build around, and if this upcoming season is an uncapped year like many pundits believe it will be, the Jets must take advantage of a wide-open market. What and whom can take the Jets to the next level? That answer lies within the players the Jets decide to draft and pursue in this one-of-a-kind free agent market:
1. Chad Pennington, MIA QB (34 y.o.)
Mark Sanchez is clearly a young, inexperienced quarterback. He deserves some praise for leading his team to an AFC championship berth, but has much work to do in order to be considered one of the top passing talents in the league.
Sanchez's pedigree suggests this to be possible, and with a proven leader in Pennington, can be mentored along the right path. Pennington can help Sanchez with reads and progressions, as well as providing veteran leadership to a team he spent the first seven years of his career playing for.
2. Julius Peppers, CAR DE (30)
Peppers wants a long-term contract, which he has clearly stated to the media. The Jets need help on the defensive line, and a player of Pepper's stature and skill level would greatly help a line marred by injuries in 2009. The Jets can and should offer him a prime contract despite being on "the wrong side of 30."
This signing would allow head coach Rex Ryan the freedom to call less of his trademarked stunt blitzes, and rely on a three man line to get pressure on the quarterback, populated by Peppers, a healthy Jenkins, and longtime Jet Shaun Ellis.
3. Eric Berry, TEN S (21)
Eric Berry is the real deal. No matter who drafts this once-in-a-lifetime talent from Tennessee, will be more than satisfied with his production. Berry left college leading all NCAA players in total interceptions, interceptions per game, interception return yards, and interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Statistically, Berry was considered one of the most dominant defensive backs in NCAA history, often being compared to Ed Reed. In his entire college career, he has drawn only one penalty flag.
The Jets have their own issues at safety, stemming from talk-the-talk Kerry Rhodes, who has a penchant for arm tackles and runs flat-footed. The Jets should trade up to take Berry, who will most definitely go in the top 5. Perhaps counting on Leon Washington's return, the Jets could offer their pick at #29 with Thomas Jones for a top 5 pick in an effort to select Berry.
With these 3 key additions, viewers of the 2011 Super Bowl will be seeing Green and White.