Turn On The Jets Crystal Ball: 10 Free Agent Predictions

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With NFL free agency rapidly approaching, I thought it was an appropriate time to throw out some NFL and New York Jets predictions. Here is my 30 pack of predictions on the Jets 2013 season and while some are quite cringe-worthy to look at now, on the whole they weren’t as bad as I expected. The 12 Pack was up and down this year, as always. Let’s see if I can manage a passing grade here and let’s hear your predictions in the comment section below or on Twitter.

1. Jeremy Maclin is going back to the Philadelphia Eagles. Brian Orakpo is going back to the Washington Redskins. Both players would be intriguing targets for the Jets to pursue but I don’t think they will get the opportunity.

2. Eric Decker, Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Hakeem Nicks and James Jones will all be on different teams next season. I don’t think the Jets will seriously pursue Decker or Nicks, who will likely get substantially overpaid in the open market. Also keep an eye on the Jets pursuing a few second and third tier free agent receivers like Andre Roberts, Dexter McCluster, and Miles Austin when he is released.

3. Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie will all be released before the NFL Draft. Cromartie will be resigned on a restructured, low cost contract. Sanchez will land a backup job for the 2014 season. Holmes will have a long wait before signing a one year “prove it” deal with a different team.

4. Austin Howard will be signed to a new contract by the Jets before free agency opens.

5. It won’t happen immediately but Calvin Pace will be brought back by the Jets on another one year deal.

6. Whether it is with a new contract or via the franchise tag, Nick Folk will be back with the Jets in 2014.

7. Jeff Cumberland, Leger Douzable and Kellen Winslow Jr all will not be back with the team in 2014.

8. The Jets will add one of the following at quarterback as veteran competition for Geno Smith: Chad Henne, Tavaris Jackson, or Shaun Hill. I do not think Mike Vick will receive serious consideration.

9. While it is very difficult to have a read on just how aggressive John Idzik will be in free agency, I think the Jets will take a run at Jairus Byrd and Jason Worilds. They may not get either but I would be far from stunned if they landed one. I do think they will add a safety and linebacker in free agency. I don’t anticipate them adding a corner, as I do think they will use one of their middle round picks on one.

10. If Dennis Pitta breaks free from Baltimore, I think the Jets will take a run at him. A veteran is going to be added at tight end. If Pitta stays with the Ravens, I could see Brandon Pettigrew or Andrew Quarless receiving consideration.

16 thoughts on “Turn On The Jets Crystal Ball: 10 Free Agent Predictions

  1. Excellent post and I agree with what you wrote. Just a couple things you didn’t cover. Do you think we will resign Reed and what receiver do you think we will end up getting? Also, any predictions for the draft?

  2. I think there is a 50/50 chance that Maclin leaves Philly. Maclin has never played in Chip Kelly’s offense, Cooper put up big numbers last year and has very good chemistry with their “new” signal caller, The Eagles have a wealth of receivers, and their defense was awful. Most of their available cap space needs to go to the other side of the ball. Maclin’s return is one of those things that both sides want and may never happen anyway. Philly did not suffer without Maclin, so they may not see his value as we see it or as Maclin sees it.

    I do not think that Nicks will get overpaid. I think it is likelier he will not be considered a first-tier FA by a lot of teams, floats around in free agency for a few weeks, then signs a short, mid-level contract for ~$3-5 million next year.

    I think much the same thing happens with Cumberland, but he cannot blame injury like Nicks, and winds up accepting a very cheap contract for around $1-2 million/yr. I think he returns to the Jets as a backup.

    My guess is Pace is gone to another team because he does not stick around until draft day, as he did last year. We sign Worilds in his place, especially if Orakpo and Ware hit the market. (We pursue both Orakpo and Worilds hard and fast, but the former’s price rockets past what Idzik is comfortable with and he quickly seals the deal with Worilds.)

    If we do not sign another free safety in free agency, I expect we will resign Reed on a one-year deal right before the draft. He will be the backup/mentor to a free safety we draft.

    My ideal scenario (that is still affordable) would be Maclin, Pitta or Pettigrew, Worilds, a backup QB, and a second- or third-tier FA wideout like Miles Austin or Hakeem Nicks (though I still think Britt would be a better signing if he wises up and you get him on an incentive-laden contract.) If Byrd makes it to free agency, I think he becomes too expensive and the Jets might get equal long-term production by having a competition between Bush, Rontez Miles, and a draft pick. Get Cromartie and Cumberland back on cheap contracts. Resign Howard, Colon, and Folk. Extend Kerley and Wilkerson (activate Wilkerson’s fifth-year option if you cannot get him signed long-term for $9 million/yr or less). With other cheap depth players, that comes out to about $40 million; use the rest for draft picks, mid-year signings, and towards next year’s cap.

  3. Whatever the Jets do they need to upgrade both the passing offense and the passing defense – if they are not going to invest in these areas first and foremost, 2014 will be another abysmal season.

  4. So basically none of the shit that needs to be done is gonna get done. And we are gonna have mediocre mid-round talent at the holes that need to be filled. Pitta is ovcerated. I would be extremely disappointed if the Jets wasted a dime on him. The receivers you mentioned aren’t bad, I wouldn’t mind going to the draft for that too tier receiver in the first round, but th TE and safety potion needs to be taken care of more appropriately.

    Yes I know this is simply a prediction and yes I know life isn’t a video game and there are a lot more factors than offering contracts.

  5. Hey Kash – I see we disagree on plenty! haha. I think you may be overestimating the ability of Miles and Bush to be viable options at safety. Also on Cooper, I think he is very, very overrated. I don’t think he is anywhere near Maclin in terms of talent. His numbers were inflated by a monster two game stretch against poor defenses. He struggles heavily to get consistent separation.

    Kyle -

    I am up in the air on Reed. Personally, I don’t want to see him back but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rex tried to squeeze another year out of him. I am hoping the WR we get is Tate but I’m not overly optimistic the Jets will pay up for him.

  6. @Joe

    I do not disagree that Cooper is overrated. The Eagles are going to have to choose between keeping Cooper, keeping Maclin, or keeping both and having a horrible defense for another year. All I want to say is between those three choices, Cooper is the devil you know.

    And my ideal list originally included Byrd. But I was looking at all the names and I just do not think it happens. Byrd is too good a safety, too many teams need an upgrade there, and the draft is too shallow to relieve the pressure. I want it to happen, but I cannot see it happening. I also think that using the money that would go to Byrd to sign an OLB and another WR will be better than just Byrd. You cannot solve everything at once.

  7. Kash,

    If the NYJ are going to have 35+mm in cap space, they’re simply not going to bargain basement shop for every position, IMO. I think, as fans, we should be irate if they don’t upgrade.

    If Hakeem Nicks signs a 1yr deal for $3-$5mm, I’ll be shocked. You do realize how much available cap space is out there, right? No doubt he didn’t have a great year, but he’s 25 and has a solid history. If Mike Wallace got $30mm guaranteed, this guy has to get better deal than you think…has to.

    I have to believe, God I hope, Idzik is building a FA board, much like a draft board; placing cap value on all the available FAs. The team has to have some priority of needs, no? As they build their draft board, and establish what positions they believe are deeper, it would make sense to prioritize positions they should try and fill via FA, IMO.

    So, if they see the draft is deep in WR, maybe they only spend on 1 upgrade guy, with the money is better spent elswhere (I’m not saying it is or isn’t, just using as example), and draft from that deep pool of talent. Or, if they go out and bring in Tate and Maclin, it would seem a bit redundant to draft a WR in round 1, unless it’s a situation where the guy’s draft grade is so high compared to when they pick.

  8. I agree that the Jets will wait for the initial burst of money paid out, and salaries to come down to earth. I hope they’re doing their homework. I’d like to see them sign a few lower tier WRs, and draft a few. You never know where the next star, or bust receiver is going to come from. I ;ole quantity at WR. If 2 legit #2 WRs shake out with Kerley in the slot would be a huge improvement for this team. If we get a bigger name, it will be at Safety, or guard. I think Peta’s going to stay with his best friend. I’m still looking to see which TE Philly releases. Tough to see them keeping all 3.

  9. Joe,

    Do you really think the Jets are signing up to struggle in the secondary after the painful wait for Milliner to get it? It takes a lot of time for rookies to adapt to CB in the NFL. And a 4th-5th rounder is the answer to the other side with 40-50M on the table? I can’t buy that.

    The answer is that they will address a young veteran CB to complement Milliner as this FA is loaded with competent man-cover CB’s.

    I’m no longer of the belief that the Jets will be pursuing an OLB with a likely Pace signing and Barnes returning. With all the holes, this one seems to be pushed down in priority. This I can see a 4th rounder used.

  10. John X -

    I never said a 4th or 5th rounder would start opposite of Milliner. The “secondary” is four players, not just the two corners. The struggles at CB last year were largely based on two things: Milliner’s growing pains and Cromartie playing at less than 100%.

    I don’t think the CB market is going to be as robust as you expect. I anticipate a lower tier FA brought in as insurance for Cromartie, who will be brought back on a lesser deal and hopefully be at least 80% of the player he was in 2012, which paired with the Milliner we saw from the final four games with a full, healthy offseason under his belt is already an upgrade at CB. Nevermind if they actually give Walls more of a chance, who showed some promise last year. The secondary could very well be upgraded via improvements to the safety position, which was quietly putrid last season…particularly when a washed up Ed Reed replaced an ascending Antonio Allen in the lineup.

    As for BPA. Not really sure how you can doubt that approach after seeing how the Richardson pick worked out last season. Bottom line is you evaluate your players and if the Jets have a LB ranked 9th overall and a WR or TE ranked 19th overall, and both are available at #18…you take the LB. Idzik has been very public about accumulating the most possible talent in the draft and then filling holes in FA. As for the TE position, nobody is a slam dunk in this class. I like Ebron and Amaro plenty but both have their share of flaws and both could very well be gone by #18. If the Jets board lines up to take one of them, great. If not, You can’t trash the pick just because it didn’t match up with an expected position

  11. Why did the secondary have it’s best 4 games with a washed up ED Reed playing? How many receptions did Ed give up last year anyway? I think it was 6, in around 375 times in coverage. He’s a liability for sure.

  12. Um. The Jets signed Reed and were promptly blown out three straight weeks, which knocked them out of playoff contention. They were completely awful in pass coverage in those weeks.

    EJ Manuel – 245 yards, 2 TDs
    Joe Flacco – 273 yards, 1 TD
    Ryan Tannehill – 331 yards, 2 TDs

    Even in the final four games, when they won 3 out of 4. Oakland still scored 27 points on them had 265 yards passing. Carolina scored 30 and had 273 yards passing. The pass defense against Cleveland and Miami was solid but I wouldn’t be fooled by Reed grabbing a couple of garbage time INTs, he still struggled heavily.

    I do know the Jets managed to beat Brees and Brady without Reed.

  13. To be fair almost all of these games were because our CB’s were terrible.

    Very little to do with the safeties IMO.

    Cro was terrible and Milliner was terrible at this time.

    Reed enabled Milliner and this secondary to grow.

    3 picks in 7 games is quality work. No matter on you slice it.

  14. Harold,

    It is crazy to absolve Reed in those games, particularly when he was specifically beat deep for a long TD against BAL, and missed tackles that led to TDs against Miami and took a poor angle on a long TD vs. Carolina There was a reason Rex, who is the most loyal coach I’ve ever seen, demoted his reps substantially in the final few games. Allen should have never been benched for him. Reed should have immediately been a 15-20 rep per game guy and stayed there.

    And 3 picks in 7 games isn’t automatically quality work, no matter how you slice it. Look at the situation. Look at that passes. And don’t realistically tell me those are exceptionally impressive plays from Reed.

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-york-jets/0ap2000000305439/Ed-Reed-picks-off-Ryan-Tannehill
    http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-york-jets/0ap2000000303237/Jets-defense-INT

    As for Worilds/Orakpo – Neal backs up what you said on Worilds and I don’t necessarily disagree. IMO, it will depend on the contract value, if it is worth pursuing him. I don’t think Orakpo is going anywhere, though.

  15. Joe,

    Thakns for the reply.
    While the term BPA gets thrown around the way it does, there is always a need behind it just as it was with the Richardson pick. DeVito left via FA and as we know, Coples was playing and performing well at OLB near the end of the previous season. There was a need there despite how it surprised people.
    Really, this is nothing more than a terminology difference of opinion. Just because Idzik referenced the term doesn’t mean it doesn’t share its caveats. Of course BPA isn’t literal. My point is it needs to be framed in the proper reference – true BPA is having no regard for the players on your roster – this is a falsity. Just as false as stating the Jets would draft another 3-4 DE in the 1st this year.

    I wasn’t aware that you intended to keep Cro at CB…you probably should’ve stated so.
    I would think his likely degenerative hip condition would scare everyone away. Apparently not. With a healthy Cro, yeah, I see your point but I wouldn’t touch him especially with the FA market being what it SHOULD be. I disagree with your notion that it might be thin. We’ll see.

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