2011 New York Jets Free Agent Priorities
With NFL free agency set to begin, I’m going to highlight the New York Jets free agent priorities. The Jets are one of seven teams currently above the projected $120 million salary cap in effect this season. This makes it even more crucial for the Jets to re-sign their own free agents and avoid getting into a bidding war with other teams who have plenty of money to spend (ie: Tampa Bay Bucs, who are $59 million under the cap). The Jets are trying to overcome the giant hump that is the AFC Championship Game and re-signing some of their own key players will go a long way in helping them reach the Super Bowl, especially in a shortened off-season where veterans who know the system are coveted more than ever. With all that being said, here’s my top five Jets free agent priorities:
1. Antonio Cromartie – I think Cromartie has to be the Jets number one priority not because he’s a star who you simply can’t let go, but because the Jets have absolutely no pass rush. Let me explain. Cromartie is probably a top 10 to 15 cornerback in the league. He has the ability to be a game-changer and has shown that over the years. When paired with Revis he has the best opportunity to showcase his ball-hawk skills and athleticism. This is extremely important for the Jets due to their inability to pressure the quarterback. Their pressure comes from quality play in the secondary, forcing the opposing quarterback to hold onto the ball longer than he wants to. Without Cromartie, second-year cornerback Kyle Wilson out of Boise State will have to step into the starting role opposite Revis after a very shaky rookie season. The Jets are among the handful or so teams who have a real shot at a Super Bowl and an inexperienced cornerback on a team that relies on coverage in order to apply pressure spells disaster for a team poised for a Super Bowl run.
2. Santonio Holmes – Holmes is easily the best offensive weapon the Jets have, some can argue he’s their only weapon. He’s a straight up playmaker and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Mark Sanchez desperately needs Holmes back because without him Sanchez has absolutely nobody to throw to.
3. Braylon Edwards – Edwards had an excellent 2010 season with the Jets, nabbing seven touchdowns while on his way to 53 receptions and over 900 receiving yards. He’s a deep-ball threat as well as a possession receiver. Edwards uses his 6-foot 3-inch 215-pound frame very well and became one of Sanchez’s primary targets on third down. Braylon has had some stone-hands problems in the past but seemed to relinquish himself of that stigma last season. Nevertheless, Edwards is just not as important to the Jets as Holmes is. I only see him returning to the Jets if they can’t re-sign Holmes.
4. Shaun Ellis – The Tennessee alum is going into his 12th NFL season at the ripe at of 34. However, Ellis still has some gas left in the tank. He’s the Jets longest tenured player, as he was drafted by Gang Green in 2000. Since then, Ellis has racked up 72.5 total sacks, an average of 6.5 a season. The 6-foot 5-inch 290-pound defensive end is one of the only players on the defensive line who can apply pressure on the quarterback.
5. Brad Smith – Smith is more of a luxury item for the Jets this season. His versatility and playmaking abilities make him a valuable commodity to any team but the Jets cap constraints might force Smith to find another home. The only way I see the Jets retaining the former Missouri quarterback is if they fail to re-sign one of the above mentioned receivers.
*Edited – I previously had David Harris on this list but after reading a below comment and researching I found that Harris has already been issued the franchise tag, rendering him a Jet for at least one more season.