The second offseason for general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles at the helm of the Jets will be just about as busy as their first. High on their new year's to-do list will be preparing to address the 23 players on their roster who can become free agents in March.
Photos of the Green & White's 20 Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) & 3 Restricted Free Agents (RFAs)
Maccagnan expressed his general approach to those players when he was asked at his end-of-the-season news conference about signing DE Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal.
"Needless to say, Muhammad played very well this year," Maccagnan said. "I think with him, and all of our players that we had on the team last year, we're going to try to figure out ways to keep as many of them as we can. But I don't want to go too far down that road because it's early. In a perfect world, we'd keep everybody on the roster, but we have to see how this thing unfolds."
Bowles naturally has a similar approach. Asked about retaining not only Wilkerson but NT Damon Harrison and keeping his defensive front intact, the coach said, "That's something we have to figure out in the offseason, obviously. There's going to be some tricky parts on our doing it and guys wanting to come back and just working it all out. We have a while to get all of that done, so there's a lot of things that have to be talked about before then."
The situations of some players below will draw more headlines than others. Wilkerson is one player. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is another. As Bowles said about the importance of keeping Fitzpatrick for continuity's sake on offense:
"It's just not about bringing Fitz back, it's about being able to afford him or somebody else overpaying for him and those types of things. But you can't take away from anything that he’s done this year from a records standpoint or otherwise. He's been great for the guys in the locker room and he knows we want him back and he wants to be back. It's just a matter of working it out."
Another position fans will be paying close attention to is running back, where Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley all are potential unrestricted free agents. Ivory cleared 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career, Powell came back from an early ankle sprain with a strong second half, and Ridley picked up speed as he was worked back into the RB rotation from his year-long knee rehab.
Other players on the list will be weighing whether to return and extend their long and accomplished careers. LB Calvin Pace said he'd like to play his 14th NFL season and G Willie Colon said the same about coming back for his 11th season. But in the case of Colon, who finished the season on injured reserve, he said:
"That's my mind talking and my heart. My body may be saying something else, so I have to be sensitive about that. I'm just going to take time this offseason and listen to myself."
Here is the list of the 23 Jets who can potentially become free agents in March. The three potential restricted free agents are designated (RFA).
QB — Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB — Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley
WR — Chris Owusu, Kenbrell Thompkins (RFA)
TE — Kellen Davis, Zach Sudfeld (RFA)
OL — Willie Colon, Ben Ijalana
DL — Stephen Bowen, Leger Douzable, Damon Harrison, Muhammad Wilkerson
LB — Demario Davis, Erin Henderson, Jamari Lattimore, Calvin Pace
DB — Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Darrin Walls
K — Randy Bullock
P — Ryan Quigley (RFA)