The Jets have a handful players with expiring contracts who posted career numbers in 2017 in cornerback Morris Clairborne, inside linebacker Demario Davis, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and quarterback Josh McCown. While they could hit the free agent market in March, they expressed a desire to return to the Green & White in 2018. However, free agency is notorious for twists and turns, so it's a wait-and-see game for now.
"We actually started our pro free agency meetings a little bit earlier this year," general manager Mike Maccagnan said. "We're still in the process of finishing those up. … So as we go forward, I would say we have a lot of cap space. 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."
In his first year with the Jets, Claiborne was productive on the field as he led the team with 11 pass defenses in 15 games, his healthiest season since 2012. The seventh-year vet often lined up against the opposing team's top receiver and provided a veteran presence in a young secondary.
"I'm happy right here," Claiborne said. "I love everything about this organization from the equipment staff to the training staff to the coaches. Why pack up and move somewhere else if you have everything right here?"
Davis led the team with 172 tackles and five sacks in his first year back with Jets after they traded for him in June. The sixth-year vet was drafted by the Jets in 2012 and spent four years in green and white before a one-year hiatus in Cleveland. The players gravitated towards the 6'2", 248-pounder as he became the defensive leader and won the Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Award (along with DL Steve McLendon) by a vote of his teammates.
"I enjoy it here," Davis said. "It's a great locker room. I enjoy my teammates and coaches. It's a great organization and I have nothing but high praise for the Jets."
Seferian-Jenkins had one of the most impressive turnarounds both on and off the field this season. The 6'5", 262-pounder reported to training camp more than 30 pounds lighter and recorded a career-high 50 receptions and 357 yards this season. The fourth-year vet expressed his desire to return for many reasons, including head coach Todd Bowles, tight ends coach Jimmie Johnson, his teammates and New York City. Seferian-Jenkins said he's had positive contract talks with the Jets, but they're on hold because of a change in representation.
"I know this is my fourth year, but I look at it as my rookie year," he said. "I think this year has been a good starting point for me. Out of 10, I think it was about a six. There's a lot to improve. A lot of the guys when they're finishing their fourth or fifth year, you say this is all they got, this is who they are. I think the cool thing about me is I have so much more to give, to grow."
McCown, the Curtis Martin Team MVP, is a bit of a different case because retirement could be a likely option. He posted career numbers before breaking his hand in Week 14 as the 15th-year vet threw for 2,926 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 67.3% of his passes. McCown said he's going to weigh the option of retiring or continuing to play with his family.
"I still think there's good football left in Josh," Maccagnan said. "I think from an intangible standpoint he was outstanding for our building and our locker room. … Based on what Josh has done, I would have no problem bringing him back. But of course that's another thing that is going to play itself out here over time."