Darrelle Revis is arguably the best cornerback in the league, and he is the "biggest reason" the Jets topped the league in pass defense (according to Rex Ryan) a year after the Jets finished almost last in that category.
The Jets, though, are likely to continue playing musical chairs in the secondary. Starting cornerback Lito Sheppard and nickelback Donald Strickland are likely to be released because they couldn't manage to stay healthy. Sheppard is also due a hefty roster bonus he didn't earn in his brief stint for the Jets.
Jim Leonhard was very impressive, but the future for Kerry Rhodes is uncertain.
The secondary didn't fare that well against the Chargers, and was torched by Peyton Manning and the Colts. They are just two of the elite teams anchored by their passing games the Jets would have to get by to reach the Super Bowl.
Next on the checklist is acquiring a premier pass rusher. Vernon Gholston hasn't registered a single sack yet, and the Jets can't wait for the day he does when they are on the cusp of being a dominant defense.
Rex can cook up exotic blitzes, but being able to generate pressure in the pass rush without throwing the kitchen sink at opponents is a luxury, especially for the defensive backs. Of course, Revis will isolate the top receiver anyway.
Enter the Chargers. They are shopping Antonio Cromartie, and seeking a running back to replace LaDanian Tomlinson. Cromartie isn't very physical, or a sure tackler, but he is great in coverage, can make plays, and is extremely athletic. For the Chargers, he is expendable and a headache.
The Jets have a logjam in the backfield and Thomas Jones is the odd one out. Jones, 31, might not make it to his roster bonus next month, and Leon Washington will be ready to go by training camp...and the emergence of Shonn Greene is reassuring.
The Chargers have former first-round pick Larry English ready to succeed Merriman. Merriman had season-ending knee surgery in 2008, missing the entire season, and couldn't regain his form in a disappointing 2009.
Merriman, set to be a restricted free agent, is an ideal fit for the Jets, and the Jets would be killing two big birds with one small stone. The Chargers have no leverage with either, and the package would fill the top two needs for the Jets.
The Jets could ship Jones and maybe a conditional pick for next year, because Cromartie and Merriman could thrive, but the investment should be more performance based.
Merriman and Cromartie would fit well with the Jets, and at the moment the price is right. The Jets should capitalize on that.