The lazy approach to covering the New York Jets off-season (see many of the beat writers) is acting in any way surprised about people like Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry and Mike DeVito are leaving. This of course lends itself to catchy terms to be splashed on back page headlines like “REX-ODUS” and shoot out snarky Tweets like “At least they signed Lex Hilliard back #LOLJETS” – Of course anybody with a shred of common sense about the team’s overall situation knew these moves were coming. We keep hearing “what is John Idzik doing?”…”what is the Jets plan” – Let’s look at the bigger picture.
The Jets goals for the off-season are likely as follows – Evaluate our current talent properly, clear cap space with building for 2014 in mind, and build through the draft.
If you are John Idzik, you see limited cap space and flexibility for 2013, you watch the game film from last season and you make the following decisions:
- You aren’t paying 3 years and 10 million dollars to Shonn Greene. As a matter of fact, you aren’t paying him anything. He simply isn’t good enough to be a starting running back in the NFL and he is a dreadful fit in the offense Marty Mornhinweg, one of your newest hires, is going to run. You don’t even bother picking up the phone to make him an offer. You can potentially get more production from Mike Goodson or Bernard Scott at a fraction of the cost, nevermind draft a running back who surpass 3.9 yards per carry.
- You see LaRon Landry played well for you last season but it is financially impossible to match the 4 year, 24 million dollar contract the Indianapolis Colts gave him. You also wouldn’t feel comfortable guaranteeing 14 million dollars to a guy who has rarely been able to get through a 16 game season. Landry was good but not great last year and not worth that type of money. You aren’t going to overvalue your own talent based on one season.
- Of course you want to keep Mike DeVito, a talented and versatile defensive lineman but over 4 million dollars per year is a crazy amount to pay for a backup. Your team drafted Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples in the first round the past two years and both merit starting jobs. You also have a talented young 2011 3rd round pick in Kenrick Ellis and a 2nd year player in Damon Harrison who showed flashes last year. DeVito is a pretty good player but 4 million per year to rotate off the bench? Can’t do it.
- You aren’t going to run out of the gates to overpay for Dustin Keller…who has had issues staying healthy and can’t block. Let the market dictate his price and if it appears reasonable than approach him on your terms. Yeremiah Bell could have helped ease the transition to younger players on defense but you can’t lose sleep over keeping a 35 year old on a rebuilding team. Maybe you want to see what Josh Bush and Antonio Allen could do in a larger role, so you know how desperate your need is for long term safeties heading into 2014?
- There are still additions to make to this year’s roster. So you restructure Antonio Cromartie to free up space in 2013 and don’t mind guaranteeing him money in 2014 and 2015. Why? You know there is a good chance Darrelle Revis is going to be traded, so you need Cromartie to be your number one corner the next 2-3 seasons. You know you are thin at wide receiver and how productive Santonio Holmes can be, so you don’t moving around his salary so you may have to keep him in 2014 because he can help you that season. You aren’t touching Mark Sanchez’s contract because you want freedom to cut ties after this year. You aren’t touching David Harris’ contract because you want freedom to cut ties as soon as possible. If there is anybody else approached for a restructure it will be Nick Mangold or D’Brickashaw Ferguson who you want here for the long haul.
- You see these players leaving and know you are getting compensatory Draft picks. A Darrelle Revis trade is more likely to occur than not, which will also bring along more Draft picks. Now you are thinking of having 18-22 picks over the next two seasons which will help replenish your roster in the way you want…with the players you scout and choose.
There is no need to go crazy in free agency. There are a few bargain pieces out there who can be had on the cheap. There are stopgap starters available in Brandon Gibson, Antwan Barners or Braylon Edwards. There are young players with upside to develop like Mike Goodson or Victor Butler. There is no need to rush in and overpay anybody.
Patience Jets fans, patience.