Sign, Cut: New York Jets 2013 Unrestricted Free Agents

John Shea@real_johnsheaContributor IIIJanuary 8, 2013

Sign, Cut: New York Jets 2013 Unrestricted Free Agents

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    The New York Jets after-the-season press conference on Tuesday morning increased speculation over who the team will hire as general manager and what happens next.

    The next general manager will commence the immediate process of evaluating player personnel and determining who's worthy of reclaiming a role in green and white for the 2013 season. The Jets have gaping issues all over the field and need to overhaul certain personnel areas on both sides of the football.

    The new GM will be forced to reconstruct a depleted roster with limited funds. The Jets aren't expected to be competitive in free agency because of a sickening salary cap situation and will likely look to improve through the 2013 NFL Draft.

    Still, the team has several significant decisions to make on the home front, most of which will be determined based on the salary cap.

    The following details what the Jets should do with their 12 unrestricted free agents this offseason:

Chaz Schilens

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $605,000

    Decision: Sign

    Why: Schilens pulled down 28 receptions on 41 targets for 289 receiving yards last season. The 27-year-old veteran is a suitable fourth receiver and should earn a one-year deal to reclaim that role.

    Schilens was often inappropriately featured as the Jets second receiver because of injury and depleted roster depth last season, but he's a decent receiver given the right situation.

    Still, he isn't a barn-burner or game-changer.

    Schilens is a big target at 6'4'' though, enabling him to go over the top to reel in catches. He could be effectively utilized in the red zone, given a quarterback who can make the throw.

    Schilens tallied two touchdowns last season. That's not bad for a supposed-to-be fourth receiver on a team that ranked 30th in offense.

Lex Hilliard

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $412,941

    Decision: Cut

    Why: The Jets can do better than Lex Hilliard at fullback. The former member of the Dolphins and Patriots has bounced around the AFC East in his four seasons in the NFL.

    He started his career in Miami where he played 32 games spanning 2009-2011 before a two-game stint with the Patriots at the start of last season.

    The Jets claimed Hilliard off waivers on October 2, 2012 in an effort most likely led by former offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.

    The recently fired second-rate coach was at the helm in Miami when the team drafted Hilliard in 2008.

    Hilliard isn't undeserving of a back-up role, but he doesn't fit the mold in New York. Look for the Jets to fill Hilliard's vacant role through the draft.

Nick Folk

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $605,000

    Decision: Sign

    Why: Folk has proven himself to be a reliable kicker, capable of making clutch kicks from significant distance. The veteran kicker has converted at least 76 percent of his field goal attempts in three seasons with the Jets and should reclaim his role with a one-year deal.

    Folk made eight of 11 kicks attempted from 40 yards or further last season and was ironically perfect from beyond that distance in games the Jets lost. He's consistent and dependable. What more do you need out of a kicker?

    Folk split the uprights on 77.8 percent of field goals attempted in 2012, his highest conversion rate since 2008 when he nailed 90.9 percent of his kicks for the Cowboys.

Braylon Edwards

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: Claimed off waivers, $95,294

    Decision: Sign

    Why: Braylon Edwards tried San Francisco and Seattle back en route to New York. He's a solid fit for the Jets and his numbers prove it.

    Edwards compiled 10 receptions on 18 targets for 125 receiving yards in three games with the Jets in 2012 after supposedly being cut from the Seahawks for defending Mark Sanchez on Twitter.

    Edwards was a consistent downfield target in his first stint with the Jets, reeling in 11 touchdowns on over 1,400 yards receiving.

    He's a low-cost, high-reward brand of free agent from the Jets' standpoint and should reclaim a role as the team's number two receiver in 2013.

Bryan Thomas

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $444,706

    Decision: Cut

    Why: Bryan Thomas has played his entire 11-year career as a member of the Jets. He's delivered veteran leadership throughout his final seasons as a pro and could be ready to hang up his spikes.

    The 33-year-old linebacker recorded 318 tackles and forced seven fumbles in 157 games with the Jets.

    The Jets toyed with Thomas throughout the 2012 season. He took a pay-cut before being released, and was then re-signed at the veteran's minimum.

    Thomas also has overbearing off the field issues and was charged with aggravated assault against his wife Tuesday morning, according to the NY Daily News. He should be commended for a successful football career, but it's about time for the Jets to move on.

Shonn Greene

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $798,530

    Decision: Sign

    Why: Shonn Greene hasn't developed beyond the flashes of greatness he displayed in his rookie season, but quietly surpassed the 1,000 rushing yard plateau in the final week of the 2012 season. Greene has been relatively consistent, but lacks explosiveness and doesn't possess the breakaway speed necessary to become an elite running back in the NFL.

    Greene has been victimized by inconsistent run-blocking, but is a durable back capable of handling over 20 carries per game nonetheless. His future as a member of the Jets should be dictated by the style of the team's new offensive coordinator.

    The ground-and-pound could be dead in New York.

    The steady emergence of Bilal Powell prompts a dichotomy between backs. Greene (3.9 yards/attempt) and Powell (4.0 yards/attempt) are a similar style of running back, although Powell possesses more speed.

    Look for the Jets to add a speed-oriented back through the draft to compliment Powell, but Greene should land a one-year deal if they're unable to.

Brandon Moore

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $4,460,118

    Decision: Cut

    Why: Brandon Moore has spent all 10 seasons of his professional career with the Jets. The 32-year-old offensive guard has displayed relentless dedication to the franchise that first gave him a chance as a rookie in 2003.

    Moore never relinquished the opportunity and has started every game in the trenches for the Jets since 2005. He’s been a catalyst on the offensive line for an entire decade—a feat that most at his position couldn’t fathom.

    The Jets are ultimately at a vital crossroad this offseason. They need to revamp critical areas of player personnel all over the field, especially the offensive line.

    The Jets allowed 47 sacks in 2012, the most they’ve suffered under the leadership of Rex Ryan. Pass protection and run-blocking were spotty at best.

    Moore isn’t a finite culprit for the Jets inefficient offensive line, but he won’t return in 2013. His age and price tag don't match.

Dustin Keller

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $3,989,375

    Decision: Cut

    Why: Dustin Keller was disappointed last offseason when the Jets failed to offer him a contract extension that would have kept him in green and white for the foreseeable future. 

    Now, it appears as though Keller is destined to test his market value in free agency, where he’ll undoubtedly land a deal that the Jets will be unable to compete with.

    Keller has been the most dependable Jets receiving corp throughout his tenure in Florham Park. He’s a durable, run-blocking tight end with above average route-running skills. His size and strength enable him to go over the top to make tough catches, given a quarterback capable of delivering.

    The fifth-year veteran was limited to just eight games in 2012 because of injury, but still pulled down 28 receptions on 36 targets for 317 yards and two touchdowns—good enough to rank third among all Jets receivers.

    Keller will ultimately demand a price tag that doesn’t fit the Jets budget, which means the team will be in the business of attracting a new starting tight end.

Yeremiah Bell

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $1,400,000

    Decision: Sign

    Why: Yeremiah Bell arguably had his best season as a pro in his first season with the Jets in 2012. The 34-year-old safety ranked third on the team with 72 total tackles. He also tallied three fumble recoveries and a sack.

    Bell was a formidable compliment to hard-hitting safety LaRon Landry, as the tandem combined for 147 total tackles last season. 

    The Jets need to inject the element of youth into a suddenly aging secondary, although Bell hasn’t displayed any signs of slowing down in the near future.

    Expect the Jets to tender another one-year contract to Bell, who flaunted undying determination en route to a stellar season.

Matt Slauson

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $1,075,050

    Decision: Sign

    Why: The Jets can’t afford to lose both starting offensive guards headed into an offseason overhaul. Slauson is dependable. He’s played in all 16 regular season games in each of the past three seasons.

    The Jets have been devastated by inconsistent protection on the offensive front, enabling the most turnover-prone quarterback in the NFL. Slauson still has substantial upside and should help solidify an unstable offensive line in 2013.

    The 26-year-old out of Nebraska isn’t a top-tier lineman capable of mounting pancake blocks on premiere defensive tackles at will, but he’s able to stand his ground at 315 pounds.

    Slauson should net a multi-year contract from the Jets, but will also land offers from several other suitors this offseason.

LaRon Landry

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $2,625,000

    Decision: Cut

    Why: Landry was virtually cast-out as a perennial force in the secondary after suffering a nasty Achilles injury that hampered him throughout his final two seasons as a member of the Redskins

    He proved doubters wrong in 2012 en route to the best season of his professional career. Landry is an animal—stuffing ball carriers down field like it’s nobody’s business. He compiled career-highs is several distinct defensive categories, racking up 99 combined tackles, four forced fumbles and two interceptions in 2012.

    Landry started all 16 games last season, a feat he hadn’t accomplished since his sophomore season in 2008.

    The Jets would be fully able to re-sign Landry in a perfect world, but the prominent safety is due top dollar in 2013.

    The Jets simply can’t afford him.

Mike DeVito

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    2012 Salary Cap Number: $2,500,000

    Decision: Sign

    Why: Mike DeVito has steadily emerged to become a brute force on the Jets defensive front. His size and versatility gives him the intangibles necessary to grow into an elite NFL pass rusher.

    DeVito is arguably the most important free agent that the Jets need to sign this offseason. There aren’t replacements for defensive ends like DeVito.

    He’s quick off the edge, enabling him to penetrate into the backfield before ball carriers reach the line of scrimmage. He tallied three stuffs and two forced fumbles to compliment his 27 solo tackles in 2012.

    DeVito will command significant interest on the market this offseason, which means the Jets face substantial competition in retaining their best defensive lineman.

    Still, the 28-year-old beast needs to be at the top of the Jets offseason wish list. DeVito ultimately possesses the talent and intangibles necessary to remain elite at his position for the foreseeable future. 


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