2011 NFL Free Agency: Should the New York Jets Let Brad Smith Walk?

Cole TesslerCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 02:  Brad Smith #16 of the New York Jets runs down field against the Buffalo Bills at New Meadowlands Stadium on January 2, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Brad Smith was an essential part of the Jets offense last year, but now that he's a free agent is it time to cut ties with Smith?

Smith was the basis for the Jets' Seminole formation the last two years. This was where he lined up as the quarterback and either ran with the football or gave it to his running back.

This confused defenses as they didn't know who was running the ball, and Smith also has the ability to throw the ball. This caused defenses to watch out for numerous things and often opened holes for the formation.

Smith averaged 7.8 yards a carry in the 2010 season, with 38 carries for 299 yards. In 2009 he averaged 11.5 yards a carry.

But with the Jets having many vital players hit free agency and needing to save money wherever they can, should they let Brad Smith walk?

It seems likely that the Jets may let him walk despite his importance to the offense. This was shown when the Jets drafted TCU wide receiver Jeremy Kerley.

The Jets moved up eight spots to draft Kerley in the fifth round. He is a great kick returner and also is a great specialist like Brad Smith.

 TCU's co-offensive coordinator Jarrett Anderson told ESPN.com last December:

"Obviously he is incredible at change of direction. He's not afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catch. He's got great ball skills, all those sorts of things, which adds a great element that we can sit in the staff room and say, what do we want to do today with Jeremy?"

Sounds a lot like Brad Smith.

Kerley can also throw the ball like Smith as he was quarterback in high school and led his football team to their first state championship game as a junior.

Although Kerley didn't play college quarterback like Smith, the Jets didn't even utilize Smith's ability to pass. The Jets only had Smith pass three times out of the Seminole.

This means that even though Kerley might not be as experienced as a passer, he probably won't need to pass that much anyway.

Another argument for Smith is that he is one of the best returners in the league. He was second last year in kickoff return average with 28.6 yards per return. He was also tied for third in return touchdowns with two.

The answer for that is with the Jets' special teams coaching staff, he shouldn't be that hard to replace.

In 2006 Justin Miller was the leading kick returner in  the league with 28.6 yard average for the Jets, he was cut and replaced by Leon Washington, who became one of the best in the league as well.

In 2009, when Leon Washington was out with a season-ending injury, he was replaced by Smith. With the Jets' track record in return men, Jets fans shouldn't worry about replacing Smith in the kick return game.

Although Smith was valuable to the Jets in the 2010 season, sometimes you have to let go of players that you need.

With essential free agents like Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie and Braylon Edwards, the Jets need to use their money on necessities not luxury's.

With Kerley in the mix, Brad Smith is a luxury.