First guess on the what the defense will look like 2011…
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Defensive Line – Draft Pick, Free Agent, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Ropati Pitoitua – I think Kris Jenkins will agree to take a major pay cut and give it another shot for the Jets. What other option does he have? Nobody is paying him with how much time he missed the past two years. I can see negotiations with Shaun Ellis getting ugly, the Jets letting him waver in free agency for awhile but then ultimately finding a way to bring him back on a cheap, short-term deal. Does he really want to go somewhere else after spending his whole career here? He is another guy who won’t get big money elsewhere. The Jets do need to spend an early draft pick at defensive end and should sign a veteran to replace Trevor Pryce. Hopefully, Pitoitua can contribute this year.
Linebackers – David Harris, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, Draft Pick/Free Agent, Jamaal Westerman, Josh Mauga – This is another area the Jets need to spend a draft pick in. I am not sure what free agency will look like in this area but it would be good to see them add some youth here. Jason Taylor won’t be back. Westerman and Mauga have shown potential in the past couple years and are developmental players. David Harris isn’t going anywhere, you can bank on that.
Secondary – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool, Kyle Wilson, James Ihedigbo, Marquice Cole, Dwight Lowery, Draft Pick - I think the Jets will find a way to get Cromartie back after dealing with Harris and Santonio Holmes. They can’t keep everybody so don’t be surprised to see Drew Coleman and Eric Smith leave, as they will want Kyle Wilson to have a bigger role and Pool’s play improved down the stretch. I am sure Rex Ryan will insist they spend another draft pick in the secondary, either at safety or corner.
Overall – I think the Jets will be able to get Jenkins and Ellis back on the cheap as they work younger players into the defensive line positions. The bottom line is that long term replacements are needed for Ellis and Bryan Thomas and the Jets aren’t loaded with draft picks, so Mike Tannenbaum needs to hit in the first and third round or get creative with free agency or a trade. Rex Ryan loves his corners, which is why I think after taking care of Harris and Holmes, the Jets next priority won’t be Braylon Edwards or Brad Smith, but will rather be Cromartie. Eric Smith, Drew Coleman, Jason Taylor, and Trevor Pryce are the major contributors who won’t be back.