The landscape has changed for the Jets and the challenges that lie ahead are different. Last spring, the Jets entered free agency with their new GM declaring he would be very active in free agency. And now as we sit here a few hours before Mike Maccagnan's second spring soiree, the reigning Pro Football Writers Association's Executive of the Year has talked about the need to be very flexible.
Maccagnan and his pro personnel staff had a masterful first offseason as they helped dramatically upgrade a roster in need of a facelift. Situated well under the cap, Maccagnan signed free agents Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist & James Carpenter, he re-signed David Harris and Bilal Powell, and he traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall.
The NFL's Free Agency & Trading Periods Begin 3/9/16 at 4:00 P.M
Then the Todd Bowles-led coaching staff meshed the pieces together and the Green & White increased their victory total from 4 in 2014 to 10 in 2015. Every one of the aforementioned acquisitions made significant contributions as the Jets hit double-digits in victories for the 1st time in 5 seasons and 6th time in 29 seasons.
But the Jets didn't make the playoffs and they would like to compete in the postseason each January. Last year, the Jets had approximately $50 million of cap space before the free agency/trading periods commenced. In their latest analysis, OvertheCap.com estimates the Jets have $6 million in cap space available after the team placed the franchise tag on Muhammad Wilkerson.
"We know full well that the future of this long-term sustainability is the development of the younger players and really through the draft," Maccagnan said recently. "So the thought process was to have some of these veteran guys kind of carry us or be very influential over the next year or 2 or 3, but all the while really we know the future of long-term success is to identify players through the draft and develop our younger players."
While needs are definitely weighed into the equation come draft time, Maccagnan will fill holes now so he can take the best player available (see Williams, Leonard). Let's take a position-by-position snapshot of the Jets as they enter free agency.
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick (UFA), Geno Smith, Bryce Petty
Notable Free Agents:Brock Osweiler, Robert Griffin III
Analysis:After a career-year, the Jets want Fitzpatrick back. Reunited with Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick thrived playing with the most talented personnel of his career. While both Smith and Petty have the desired physical skill sets for the position, the former has two years of starting under his belt while the latter has never taken an NFL snap.
RB: Chris Ivory (UFA), Bilal Powell (UFA), Stevan Ridley (UFA), Zac Stacy, Domonique Williams, Dri Archer, FB Tommy Bohanon, FB/LB Julian Howsare
Notable Free Agents: Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Alfred Morris, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Johnson
Analysis: The Jets rode Ivory early last season and Powell gave them the spark they needed late. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported late Tuesday evening that Ivory had agreed to terms on a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Powell became a big-time weapon out of the backfield as a receiver when the Jets needed a third option. Archer, a former third-round pick of the Steelers, can fly and he'll have a chance to showcase his skills as a return man. This is a very interesting crop of veteran backs on the market.
TE: Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Davis (UFA), Jace Amaro, Zach Sudfeld (RFA), Wes Saxton, Brandon Bostick, Adrien Robinson
Notable Free Agents: Ladarius Green, Jermaine Gresham, Zach Miller, Coby Fleener, Owen Daniels, Vernon Davis
Analysis: Both Davis and Cumberland were used primarily as in inline blockers in 2015 and Maccagnan would like to add depth to the position. This will be a critical offseason for Amaro, a former second-round pick who missed all of 2015 following shoulder surgery.
WR: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa, Devin Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Chris Owusu (UFA), Kenbrell Thompkins (RFA), Joe Anderson, Titus Davis, Chandler Worthy
Notable Free Agents: Anquan Boldin, Mohamed Sanu, Rishard Matthews, Jermaine Kearse, Brian Quick, Rueben Randle
Analysis: The Jets are in outstanding shape at wideout considering Marshall and Decker are arguably the top tandem in the league, Enunwa is a versatile hybrid and the speedy Smith has a lot of potential. Depth always comes into play and special teams could be a deciding factor once we get to the summer.
OL: Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, James Carpenter, Willie Colon (UFA), Brian Winters, Breno Giacomini, Ben Ijalana (UFA), Brent Qvale, Jarvis Harrison, Wesley Johnson, Dakota Dozier, Sean Hickey, Craig Watts, Lawrence Okoye
Notable Free Agents: Russell Okung, Alex Mack, Andre Smith, Kelvin Beachum, Mitchell Schwartz, Brandon Brooks, Jahri Evans, J.R. Sweezy
Analysis: Maccagnan has always said that a lot of good offensive lines in this league have been built through the draft and not just the top picks either. "Our offensive line is still a good offensive line," Maccagnan told season ticket holders in January. "We're going to try to keep it intact, but ideally we're going to try to groom, identify and target some young players to hopefully make that position more competitive. And down the road eventually (they) may earn a starting position."
DL: Damon Harrison (UFA), Muhammad Wilkerson (Franchise Player), Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, Leger Douzable (UFA), Mike Catapano, Stephen Bowen (UFA), Deon Simon
Notable Free Agents: Olivier Vernon (Transition Player), Jaye Howard, Chris Long, Nick Fairley, Derrick Shelby, Robert Ayers, Haloti Ngata, B.J. Raji, Greg Hardy, Terrance Knighton, Cedric Thornton
Analysis: Harrison expressed on Twitter this offseason that he believes the best is ahead of him. The Jets would like to retain his services and "Snacks" is a great example of internal development. A former undrafted free agent out of William Penn, Harrison took advantage of his situation and became one of the better interior players in football. Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers have maintained the Jets are a 3-4 defense, but one that is very multiple and they like to bring the pressure.
LB: David Harris, Demario Davis (UFA), Erin Henderson (UFA), Calvin Pace (UFA), Lorenzo Mauldin, Trevor Reilly, Jamari Lattimore (UFA), Taiwan Jones, Deion Barnes, Josh Martin, Freddie Bishop
Notable Free Agents: Danny Trevathan, Derrick Johsnon, Jerrell Freeman, Nigel Bradham, Aldon Smith, Mark Barron, Dwight Freeney, Steven Tulloch, Courtney Upshaw, Rolando McClain, Nick Perry
Analysis: The Jets hope Mauldin can eventually develop into a three-down player on the outside. While Davis started last season alongside Harris, the Jets went to a rotational system with Henderson down the stretch. Since signing back in 2008, Pace has been a valuable contributor for the Jets while filling multiple roles.
DB: Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams, Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, Marcus Gilchrist, Calvin Pryor, Dion Bailey, Rontez Miles, Ronald Martin, Darrin Walls (UFA), Jaiquawn Jarrett (UFA), Antonio Allen (UFA), Kevin Short
Notable Free Agents: Eric Weddle, Janoris Jenkins, Sean Smith, Prince Amukamara, Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Walter Thurmond, Tashaun Gipson, Casey Hayward, Adam Jones, Patrick Robinson
Analysis: After releasing Antonio Cromartie, the Jets have a vacancy across from Darrelle Revis. Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams and Dee Milliner could compete for the position, but the Green & White may elect to add another CB in free agency as well.
Specialists: Tanner Purdum, Nick Folk, Ryan Quigley (RFA), Randy Bullock (UFA)
Analysis: After Folk suffered a significant quad injury, Bullock connected on 82.4% (14 of 17) of his field goal attempts. In his three seasons with the Green & White, Quigley has averaged a 38.9-yard net with 71 of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line.