EA: Since free agency precedes the draft, let's start with the running back position. Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley all have expiring contracts. Ivory, who earned his first Pro Bowl trip, went over the 1,000-yard mark (1,070) for the first time and also totaled a career-high 8 TD in 2015. Bilal Powell, who scored touchdowns in Weeks 13, 14 and 15, was a key cog down the stretch. Although Powell missed five games, he posted career highs with 47 receptions and 388 receiving yards. Powell provided the same kind of late-season spark that Ivory gave the unit early in the campaign. The Jets will put their free agency board together and assign figures to where they'd like to get the various contracts done at. While the Jets would like to retain as many of their own free agents as possible, not everyone will return. GM Mike Maccagnan has expressed the desire for a speed edge/finesse-type pass rusher while acknowledging it's very seldom that healthy productive pass rushers reach the open market. There are many things to like about the roster. The Jets have an elite defensive line and you could make an argument that the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker combination is the top WR tandem in football. There is impressive depth at the corner position and Calvin Pryor could become one of the NFL's better safeties. Both Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles said they would like to increase the speed on this team in 2016.
EA: Both. Ivory was the catalyst early, but the Jets made a great adjustment when Bilal Powell returned from injury at Houston in Week 11. After consistently facing loaded boxes and with Brandon Marshall battling through a high ankle sprain, the Jets needed another weapon and Powell provided just that especially as a receiver but as a rusher as well. You think about the scoring run against the Cowboys and then the 56 rush yards in the OT triumph over the Patriots. It should also be noted that Ivory, who led the AFC in rushing, pitched in with a career-high 30 receptions himself. Both were important to this football team and look no further than Week 17 if you needed further evidence. While Powell was inactive, Ivory was limited throughout the practice week and still managed to rush for 81 yards.
EA: Jets fans are a knowledgeable bunch, so they'll keep an eye on everyone. The headliners for the Jets in no particular order are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon "Snacks" Harrison. The Green & White also have a pair of inside linebackers with expiring contracts in Erin Henderson and Demario Davis. Since signing as an unrestricted free agent in 2008, soon to be UFA Calvin Pace has led the team in sacks (43.0) and forced fumbles (14). Veteran guard Willie Colon is contemplating retirement. When Mike Maccagnan was asked about needs last week, he mentioned a speed pass rusher, more competition at the tight end position and repeated his belief of adding offensive linemen in the draft. He has repeatedly stated that he wants to keep most of his own players, augment his roster through free agency and ultimately build through the draft.
EA: I don't think the Jets would NOT consider drafting a running back in Round 1, but you would probably say the same for every positon sans probably kicker and punter. There are two things that come to mind with Maccagnan in terms of the draft. While he will use need in order to break a tie, Maccagnan has always said teams get themselves in trouble by reaching for need. And he has maintained that you can't miss on your picks Rounds 1-3, but teams really separate themselves between Rounds 4-7. Now we are a ways off, but if the Jets had a RB as the clear top prospect on their board when they go to select in Round 1 – they'd take that player.
EA: If Fitzpatrick re-signs with the Jets, Todd Bowles said he would be the starter. Geno Smith is still under contract and the Jets liked the way he handled himself throughout the regular season. Maccagnan was asked about Bryce Petty in the Jets season ticket holder conference call and I'm going to write about the Baylor product in the days ahead. The Jets believe Petty has the physical ability to be a starting caliber QB in the future and they thought he progressed on the practice field during his rookie campaign.