In one month, the NFL's free agency and trading periods will commence. The Jets have 10 players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents and three who fall into the restricted free agent category. After general manager Mike Maccagnan made a pivotal move to kick off the offseason with the extension for RG Brian Winters, the Jets have several critical decisions to make in the weeks ahead.
According to OvertheCap.com, the Jets are currently more than $7 million over a salary cap projection of $168 million. Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated last week in Houston that the cap could jump to $170 million, the Green & White must make some moves to get under that final number.
"The long-term goal has always been to build through the draft. We do have some ability the way the contracts were structured to make determinations on how to proceed going forward if we decide to either create cap space or keep the player," said Maccagnan at his season-ending news conference. "We're no different than we were originally. Again, our long-term goal is to build through the draft."
The Jets can clear space in several ways including the restructuring of existing contracts, the release of players and through trades. Then in early March, the Jets and the NFL's other 31 teams will explore the open market.
"We'll potentially be active like we have been. I think what you end up doing is you try to target players. It depends on the value of the player and if we can ideally find players that are younger in terms of free agency," Maccagnan said. "But, of course, those players tend to be the higher-dollar, higher-contract guys, so the trade-off is you kind of pay a premium for a younger, pro free agent, first-time contract guy. But you're always kind of balancing that. But I would say simply we'll be active potentially in free agency."
Best Images of the 2017 Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents
Jets UFAs (10)
S Antonio Allen: Rejoined the Jets on Sep. 8, Allen was primarily a special teams performer in 2016 and was placed on injured reserve in December.
OLB Mike Catapano: Appeared in 11 games in 2016, registering seven defensive tackles.
LB Bruce Carter: Reserve 'backer finished with 13 tackles and five special teams stops.
TE Kellen Davis: Played in 24 games the past two seasons, used primarily as an inline blocker.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: Made 27 starts in 2015-16, passing for 6,615 yards with 43 TDs and 32 INTs.
T Ben Ijalana: A Jet since 2013, Ijalana played both RT and LT last season and made the first 13 starts of his career.
LB Corey Lemonier: Late-season addition got snaps against the Bills in the season finale.
LB Josh Martin: Valuable special teams performer led Brant Boyer's unit with 14 tackles.
LS Tanner Purdum: One of the longest-tenured Jets, the steady long-snapper has appeared in 112 consecutive contests.
QB Geno Smith: A second-round pick in 2013, the West Virginia product started 29 games for the Jets his first two season. In his only start of 2016, Smith suffered an ACL tear in the Jets' Week 7 win over the Ravens.
Jets RFAs (3)
TE Brandon Bostick: Known for his blocking pedigree, he chipped in with eight receptions.
C Wesley Johnson: Filling in for perennial Pro Bowler Nick Mangold, he made eight starts in 2016.
CB Marcus Williams: Has totaled nine interceptions in 34 games with the Jets.