New York Jets Looking Ahead: Who Stays and Who Goes?

Mike Donnelly of TOJ breaks down the New York Jets roster and predicts who will return in 2014.

Now that the New York Jets 2013 has officially ended, it is time to turn the page and look forward to 2014. The future is certainly bright for the Jets and fans have reason to be excited. With a ton of cap space and perhaps as many as 12 draft choices, there will be plenty of new faces by next season.

But what about the current roster? Which players will be back in green next year and which will be taking their talents (or in some cases, their lack of talent) elsewhere? Let’s take a look at the current roster and individual’s chances of returning.

“The Core”

100% – Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Jeremy Kerley, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brian Winters, Nick Mangold, Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Dee Milliner, Antonio Allen.

All of these players will absolutely be back as Jets next season. Geno Smith will have some competition in camp next year but will likely going to be the starting QB in 2014. Ivory and Kerley were the only true weapons the Jets had on offense this year and, while they hopefully won’t have to carry as much of the load going forward, they will still be big parts of the offense.

Ferguson was the only member of the group that gave me slight pause because of his huge cap number next year. While he is a candidate for a restructuring or a paycut, the team can’t outright cut him for several reasons. First, left tackles don’t grow on trees and, just as importantly, cutting him would be a major blow to this year’s salary cap. He will return a long with Old Reliable, Nick Mangold and rookie left guard Brian Winters (who improved a great deal down the stretch).

On the defensive side, it goes without saying that the best defensive line in the NFL will return in tact, as Mo, Q, Sheldon, and Snacks are all under contract and there’s no reason to mess up a good thing. In fact, Mo may even end up getting a huge contract extension, which he obviously deserves. Demario Davis and Antonio Allen are both under contract with cheap cap numbers and both are likely to play big roles on next year’s defense. Finally, Dee Milliner, who was horrendous for half of his rookie season, will obviously be back as well. When you look at the way he closed out the season, it’s more than fair to expect him to have a huge sophomore year. Milliner has a ton of talent and, with a full healthy offseason to work with the coaching staff, I expect him to really put it all together.

“Near Locks” 

98% – Bilal Powell, Kenrick Ellis, Kyle Wilson, Tanner Purdum 

No reason to get rid of any of these players. They’re all under contract and each plays a solid role on the team. In the case of Ellis, he would start on 90% of the other teams in the NFL but splits snaps with Harrison here. I understand some fans thinking he should be traded for extra draft picks, but there’s really no reason to give away a potentially dominant defensive tackle.

93% – Dawan Landry, Josh Bush, Stephen Hill, David Nelson, Tommy Bohanon

These guys will all most likely be back but there is a slight chance they could be cut. Bohanon pretty much stinks, but Marty Mornhinweg seems to like him so there’s no reason to  think he will be replaced. Stephen Hill has become Jets fans’ whipping boy (and deservedly so), but he will get one more chance to prove himself as an NFL player. Hopefully he does more with his last chance than Vlad Ducasse did this year, because we obviously can use as many playmakers as possible. Nelson developed a nice rapport with Geno this season and will provide some great depth going forward, especially if Hill falls on his face again. On defense, Landry will probably be back as a starting safety and Bush provides solid depth and special teams ability.

“The Probables”

89% – David Harris, Oday Aboushi, Antwan Barnes, Caleb Schlauderaff

Harris is the only member of the group that had a major role on this year’s team and I would expect him back in 2014. However, he has a $7 million cap number next year and cutting him would save $5 million. The Hitman bounced back from a poor 2012 season but he’s not an absolute lock to return. I expect him to, however. Antwan Barnes showed a lot of promise before getting hurt, and with a $900,000 cap number next year, there’s no reason not to bring him back. As for Aboushi and Schlauderaff, both are under contract and provide cheap depth on the offensive line. They’ll be back.

80% – Austin Howard, Will Campbell, Isaiah Trufant, Ellis Lankster, Nick Bellore, Nick Folk

Howard and Folk are the biggest names of this group and both are free agents. Of course the team would like to have both of them back, but the possibility that they get blown away by offers elsewhere and leave certainly exists. Howard has proven himself to be a legit Right Tackle in the NFL and deserves a nice contract extension. Losing him would be a major blow to the offense. Nick Folk also deserves a healthy raise and Jets fans are definitely hoping he returns. He had a Pro Bowl-type season this year and hit a few game-winning kicks. A great kicker can be the difference between a 10-6 season or 8-8, so hopefully he is back. Trufant, Lankster, and Bellore all provide cheap depth and are the best special teams players on the roster. All will likely be back. As for Campbell, well, there must be a reason the Jets kept him on the roster all season, right? They obviously see something in him and I doubt they’d dump him now.

“Probably, but….”

66% – Antonio Cromartie, Willie Colon, Mike Goodson, Calvin Pace

With a gun to my head I would expect all four of these guys back next year, but each one has some major question marks that need to be answered. Of the four, I think Mike Goodson is the most likely to return because he’s under contract for a very reasonable amount. Prior to his injury he was becoming more involved with the offense, and for a team that lacks true big-play threats, he could really help out. Of course, if he is slow to recover from his knee injury and/or the team falls in love with a similar running back in the draft, he could be let go. Willie Colon is coming off a very solid season and I would think John Idzik would like to bring him back for a reasonable amount of money.

The most interesting of the group is clearly Cromartie. Coming off a Pro Bowl season, Cro really struggled this year and is due just under $15 million in 2014. Some of that is guaranteed, but cutting him would save a whopping $9.5 million on the cap. He obviously won’t get that much, but he has publicly stated he’s open to a paycut, and I would think that’s what is going to happen leading to a return to the Jets. As for Pace, he proved me totally wrong in thinking that he was washed up as he racked up 10 sacks on the season and played well throughout the season. There’s a chance another team might throw too much money at him based on those inflated sack totals, or that the Jets might try to go younger at the position and move on from him. I, for one, hope he returns for one more season while they groom a young player behind him.

“Toss Ups”

51% – Leger Douzable, Ben Ijalana, Darrin Walls, Ryan Quigley, Matt Simms

Ok, let’s run through these rapid fire style. Simms might stick as the backup, but I think the team is going to look to bring in an experienced veteran and not hang on to 3 QB’s so he could be gone. Douzable is the best player of the bunch, but he’s a free agent and you’d have to think another team might be looking at him as a potential starter, which he will never be here with Sheldon and Mo ahead of him. Ijalana provides cheap depth on the offensive line, but they might let him go and make Aboushi the primary backup tackle if they deem him ready. Quigley will probably return as the punter. The Jets seem to have a revolving door at that position though so he will clearly have some competition during training camp. The most interesting of this group is Darrin Walls. He showed great potential when he was given the chance to play this year but, for some reason, got totally buried on the depth chart as the season progressed. I would like to see him back but I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t.

49% – Jeff Cumberland, Zach Sudfeld, Greg Salas

I would imagine Cumberland will not be re-signed as the team will obviously be looking to upgrade the tight end position this offseason, but I also wouldn’t be shocked to see him back on another 1-year deal as the 1B tight end. If he’s let go, then I would expect Sudfeld to stick around. The same goes for Salas. He has some potential and familiarity with Marty’s offense but is far from a lock to make the roster next year (unless the Jets shockingly don’t add a few new receivers to the mix).

40% – Ed Reed, Jaiquawn Jarrett 

Now that Rex Ryan is officially returning, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Ed Reed return next year. He’s clearly not the same player he used to be, but he did manage to intercept three passes as a Jet, and Rex Ryan seems to really believe he had a major impact on the young defensive backs, particularly Dee Milliner. I would expect the team to try and upgrade the safety position, but they might just end up bringing Reed back for another year as a rotational safety with Landry and Allen. If Reed is brought back, I would expect Jarrett to be let go, but he might stick around because he provides quality depth and can play on specials.

“Say Goodbye”

10% – Kellen Winslow, Jermaine Cunningham

Highly doubt either one of these guys will stick around, but you never know. Winslow showed he has something left int he tank this year, but as in the case of Cumberland, the Jets will probably try to draft a top-level tight end this year and cut bait with the veterans. As for Cunningham, we will see. He has some ability and there’s clearly a need at OLB, so he has a shot to stick around.

5% – Aaron Berry, Clyde Gates, Alex Green

Almost definitely will all be gone, but there’s a slight chance one or more of them may impress in the offseason programs and end up sticking. Highly doubtful, though. But they have a better chance than these guys…

0% – Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Santonio Holmes, Josh Cribbs, Vlad Ducasse

Most fans will be thrilled to see this group gone, but Jets fans should remember that Sanchez and Holmes did provide us some good moments and damn near brought us to the Super Bowl. I’ll remember both of them fondly, and I actually think Sanchez will rise again and end up starting for another team in this league. Hopefully that team doesn’t go out of their way to bury their quarterback, like what happened here, but I digress. As for Holmes, his cap number is exorbitant and he isn’t nearly the player he used to be. Oh, and how could I forget about Vlad Ducasse? The disaster of a 2nd round pick’s tenure with the Jets will mercifully come to a close, and there’s a good chance his NFL career is over as well. Bye bye, Vlad. I look forward to seeing you as the Black Sloth if they ever remake The Goonies or something.

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.

  • DC

    You didn’t say much about Cribbs… I really liked having him fill a little bit of the hole left in my heart by the departure of Brad Smith. He seems like the sort of versatile player Rex likes having around. What’s the basis for your 0%?

  • KAsh

    This was a very level-headed analysis. Depending on if we get a TE in free agency, I could imagine two of the TEs – probably Cumby and Sud – sticking around. If Sudfeld can develop as a blocker and then we grab Ebron to be our H-back…man that would be fun to watch!

    I would also downgrade Schlauderaff’s chances a little. We still have Freeman on the Practice Squad, but I do not think we would keep two backup centers with the team for long.

  • KAsh


    Cribbs will be 31 next year and specializes in returns. The Jets will get new skill players in the draft, and one of them would naturally take Cribbs’s spot. We might resign him if we have a string of injuries again, but Cribbs will not be going to camp with the team.

  • DC

    Like KAsh, I also can see holding on to a few TEs. Sudfeld has some long-term promise, and Cumberland makes a fine #2. If they make a move on a stud TE in free agency or the draft, those three would make a pretty solid set. No need to completely reboot the position, with so many other priorities.

  • Mike Donnelly

    DC, about Cribbs – as Kash stated, he’s getting up there in age now and he’s coming off a few serious injuries the past few years. This year he was more of a desperation signing than anything and while he was better than what we had in the return game, what he showed doesn’t really warrant a return. They’ll upgrade the receiver position and look to get a dependable returner in here.

    As for the tight ends, I do think 1 or maybe 2 of the current group will be back, but it’s hard to say which one(s). I don’t think any are slam dunks so I couldn’t give any that high of a % to return. To be honest, I think Sudfeld may end up being the one most likely to be back next year because he will be the cheapest to retain and is under team control.

  • Lidman

    Move Cro to FS where his range and balls skills are a good fit. He knows the defense and FS is simply a less physically demanding position than CB. This will keep him healthier and allow him to return kicks/punts where he can have a real impact in changing field position.

  • R E X REX! REX! REX!

  • joeydefiant

    Cro at free safety is actually a good idea to me. I dont know if cro knows how to play there tho, its more complicated then we think.

  • John X

    Most fans seem to be okay with Cumberland. I’m not one of them. I think he was a huge letdown when our WR’s and Winslow was out. He did nothing to help out our rookie QB as he disappeared as he tends to do too often. I’ve had it with him. Keep Sudfeld and get two more TE’s.

  • Geronimo

    This will be an exciting offseason. I really can’t see how anyone can dislike Idzik. The man has an eye for functional talent. When in Jets history have so many free agent signings offered so much, and for so little $$$?

    A team needs guys like Douzable, Nelson, Landry, not to mention Ivory, Barnes, and promising young players like Sudfeld and Salas. Just a year ago, the names we were hearing were Shillens, Jason Hill, Gilyard…. Some OL guys whose names I can’t remember…Because they were horrible.

    I say the plan is this: Continue to fill out the roster with functional depth. The team can still use guys at FB, WR, TE, G, LB. Sign Orton at QB if he’s around. Just get guys in that won’t get you killed. Idzik has already demonstrated a fine talent for this. Keep this going.

    There will be enough draft picks, and FA money, to do this and to still take a shot at a few top tier guys (WR, TE, DB?).

    Next year’s roster could end up being exceptionally solid. Big opportunity ahead.