NFL Free Agency: New York Jets' Worst-Case Free Agency Scenarios Post-Lockout
The NFL lockout looks like it is coming to a close, which will open the doors to free agency. This year, free agency is key for the New York Jets if they want to repeat the success they have had the last two years and make it back to the playoffs.
Some notable players the Jets will want to sign once the lockout is lifted are Shaun Ellis, Antonio Cromartie, Tony Richardson, David Harris, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Brad Smith.
No one expected the lockout to go this long, and because of its length, there will be a short free agency period, making time of the essence. This slideshow describes some situations that could happen once the lockout is lifted; if they happen, they could hurt the Jets' hopes of winning the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis this season.
4. Jets Sacrifice Tony Richardson to Acquire Another Player
Last season, the Jets were flirting with the possibility of releasing fullback Tony Richardson as they were trying to decide their final roster spots. This challenging decision was documented on HBO's Hard Knocks, and in the end the Jets chose to keep Richardson.
Also on HBO's Hard Knocks, a new tough fullback for the Jets emerged; he was called "The Terminator" and will likely take Richardson's starting spot when he retires. John Connor became a fan favorite when he continuously made big hits during training camp and preseason games, which caught everybody's attention in and around the Jets organization.
With the number of free agents the Jets need and want to sign (i.e. David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith), Richardson may not be worth keeping, especially if they have a talented fullback in Connor.
While this is not a typical worst-case scenario, there is something very essential that Richardson provides: his leadership. When Mark Sanchez entered the league in 2009, he had Richardson to help him out in the huddle and as a mentor to guide him through the challenges of being a professional football player. That leadership is irreplaceable and is a great part of the Jets offense. The dilemma is whether or not the Jets are willing to give it up to save some money for another player.
3. Jets Are Only Able to Sign Brad Smith
For the last few seasons, Brad Smith has played a crucial role on Jets special teams as a great kick returner, and on offense he does a good job of running the wildcat. With these great qualities he possesses, you may be wondering why this is a worst-case scenario.
The reality is, Smith will not be enough if the Jets want to compete for the Super Bowl.
One of the problems the Jets have is Brian Schottenheimer. If he were a more creative offensive coordinator and knew how to fully utilize Smith's ability to throw and run on offense, then it would be a different story, but Schottenheimer is clueless when it comes to that.
Because of that, the Jets need another receiver or two more receivers like Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards; that way the Jets can have an aerial attack that goes with their "ground n' pound" and can mix in the wildcat so that it is an effective use of the package.
Without other talented receivers to balance out the Jets offense, every team will be focusing on the run. Schottenheimer does not like to mix things up, which means if the Jets' strong suit is running, then they'll run almost all game, and that will lose them games. Therefore, Brad Smith is just a piece of the puzzle, and in order to complete it, the Jets need a few more pieces.
2. Santonio Holmes Wants More Money and Ruins Free Agency for Jets
Last year, we all witnessed the resurgence of the former Super Bowl MVP; his success last season may go to his head and make him want to ask for more money from the Jets since Braylon Edwards' issues off the field will make the Jets want to sign Holmes rather than Edwards.
The downside to this scenario is that because of the lockout there will be a shortened free agency period. With a shortened free agency period, it will not give the organization much time to negotiate a contract like they did with Darrelle Revis last season.
The Jets showed last season during the Revis holdout that they will commit to getting a deal done to get a player to camp, which is one of their best and worst qualities. If they commit too much to Holmes and he wants more money, they may spend all their time negotiating with Holmes to the point that they can no longer try to get another receiver like Plaxico Burress or Braylon Edwards.
1. Other Teams Outbid the Jets for Holmes, Edwards and Cromartie
This one is very unlikely on account that these three players have publicly expressed that they would like to stay with the New York Jets. Then again, anything can happen in the NFL, like a wild-card team making the AFC Championship Game two years in a row.
There is no doubt that other teams will be trying to pursue these high-profile free agents, and since money is an object for the Jets, other teams can take advantage of that restriction by outbidding them, resulting in this trio being sent to different teams.
If this scenario were to happen, it would be the end of the 2011 season before training camp even starts.
This year's free agency is crucial for the Jets because they need a wide receiver that can consistently make good plays and is a reliable starter, and they need another good cornerback to play opposite superstar Darrelle Revis.
The Jets definitely do not want this situation to happen.
UPDATE: Earlier today, ESPN's Rich Cimini tweeted and later wrote a short blog post noting that in an interview, Antonio Cromartie said that he will wait until free agency to sign with a team and will not sign before that period even if the Jets give him an offer. The chances of another team getting Cromartie have increased, as his interview shows that his loyalty lies with money and not a team that took him in and could take him to a Super Bowl.
To check out Cimini's post, go here.