Last year, the Jets had to clean the house and shop for some bargain deals. This year, the house is in order and they will have the ability to spend once the NFL's free agency and trading periods commence on March 14.
But with more money in his pocket, general manager Mike Maccagnan will maintain a prudent approach this spring. He remains intent on building a winner for the long haul, using free agency as a complementary piece to the draft.
"This year coming up and the following year, we have the ability to build this in terms of improving this team to where we want it to be," Maccagnan said at his season-ending news conference. "But I don't think necessarily that you take an approach where you just mortgage the future and try to do everything in one year."
According to OvertheCap.com, the Jets are currently more than $73 million under the salary cap projection of $178 million. That number is expected to grow before free agency beings and at the present time, no other NFL club has more 2019 salary cap space than the Green & White.
Last February, the Jets waved goodbye to the likes of Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Nick Folk and Breno Giacomini. But the landscape has changed dramatically and Maccagnan could elect to re-sign a few of his 15 unrestricted free agents prior to free agency.
"I would say we have a lot of cap space," he said in January. "We do have some players that are currently free agents who we'd like to re-sign, and we'll work through that process in time."
Five Jets starters have expiring contracts and that list includes QB Josh McCown, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, CB Morris Claiborne and ILB Demario Davis. ESPN's Kevin Seifert recently ranked the top 50 potential free agents in 2018 with QB Kirk Cousins atop the list and ASJ and Claiborne coming in at 35th and 43rd respectively.
"I think we are going to be very active in free agency, but again, we haven't made our final decisions on allocating our resources," Maccagnan said. "I do think we have a lot of potential to improve this team going forward, and we'll focus on players that we can acquire from a talent standpoint that kind of fit what we want to do both from an ability and a character standpoint. I think we have the potential to help move this team forward."
Jets UFAs (15)
OLB David Bass: In his first season with the Jets, the well-traveled veteran racked up a career-high 3.5 sacks.
S Terrence Brooks: Acquired from the Eagles in August in a player swap that sent CB Dexter McDougle to Philadelphia, Brooks collected two interceptions and pitched in with seven special teams tackles.
LB Bruce Carter: Appearing in 14 contests, Carter carved out a role on special teams and finished fourth on the club with 10 stops.
K Chandler Catanzaro: Replacing Folk, "Cat Man" established a franchise record with a 57-yard field goal at Cleveland and also set Jets marks for most touchbacks (45) and TB rate (83.4%). He finished 25-for-30 on field goals and was perfect on extra points.
CB Morris Claiborne: Hamstrung by injuries early in his career, Claiborne had his healthiest season in years and thrived under DB coach Dennard Wilson. He led the Jets with a career-high 11 pass defenses.
ILB Demario Davis: Never coming off the field for all 1,116 defensive snaps, Double-D's 171 tackles were the most by any Jets defender since Jonathan Vilma's 171 in 2005. His career-high five sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss/no gain led the defense.
G Dakota Dozier: Fourth-year veteran provided depth up front, starting three games and amassing 249 snaps.
DL Kony Ealy: Acquired off waivers from the Patriots in August, Ealy used his length to collect nine pass defenses.
TE Chris Gragg: Suffering an ankle injury in preseason action vs. the Eagles, Gragg was placed on injured reserve in September.
C Jonotthan Harrison: Backing up Wesley Johnson, Harrison started vs. Los Angeles in Week 16 and helped lead the charge on Bilal Powell's 57-yard scoring run.
C Wesley Johnson: Taking over for Nick Mangold on a permanent basis, Johnson started 15 games and had 938 offensive snaps.
QB Josh McCown: Speaking during Super Bowl Week, McCown expressed his love for the Jets and is hopeful for a return. Maccagnan said he'd have no problem bringing McCown back, but he's keeping all options on the table at quarterback.
DL Mike Pennel: The 332-pound space eater became part of the rotation up front, compiling a personal-best 40 tackles.
TE Austin-Seferian Jenkins: Transformed as a person, Seferian-Jenkins settled in on the field and finished with a career-high 50 receptions.
LB Julian Stanford: A backup on the inside, Stanford quietly finished second on the cub with 19 special teams tackles.
Best Snapshots from the Season
Jets RFAs (6)
**TE Neal Sterling: Former Jaguar had six receptions in 11 games.
DL Xavier Cooper: Reunited with defensive line coach Robert Nunn, former 2015 third-round pick of the Browns was added to the roster on Halloween.
WR-KR Lucky Whitehead: Acquired off of waivers from the Cowboys in July, Whitehead suffered a foot fracture at practice this summer and was waived/injured in September. He joined the practice squad in November and was later added to the active roster before Week 17. WR Quincy Enunwa: Expected to be the club's top receiving target in 2017, Enunwa went down with a bulging disk in his neck this summer and missed the entire season following successful surgery. OL Brent Qvale: In three seasons with the Green & White, Qvale has suited up in 44 contests and made 12 starts. S Rontez Miles: The "Tezmanian Devil" provided depth at safety and led the Green & White with 20 solo tackles and 26 overall stops on special teams.