The New York Jets have a roster that is top heavy with overpaid, declining veterans. The current middle class of the roster is generally depleted due to the cumulative impact of poor mid round drafting over the past five years. There are a handful of usable, young pieces to build around going forward but it is naive to believe this roster does not need a substantial makeover in the coming offseason. This makeover cannot be impeded by half measure decisions that are looked at through a PR based, short term window line of thinking.
Every decision the New York Jets make once this season is over needs to be through the prism of “how does this benefit our 2018 roster and beyond?” If this question is answered honestly, it is going to lead to the departure of multiple popular and “name” players on the team.
The Jets will net salary cap space by releasing Darrelle Revis this offseason. There is no reason to bring him back in 2017 as a cornerback, where is clearly no longer equipped to play or as a free safety, due to the rapid decline of his physicality and effort level. Revis has played consistently poor football since week 9 of last season and is turning 32 before next season. It is a pipe dream to think he is going to positively impact the roster in 2018 or beyond. Why waste a year in 2017 of him hopefully being an adequate free safety? The season should be used to develop a secondary that can exist without Revis. Every rep Revis would play next season is a rep a corner like Juston Burris should be playing or to be acquired future free safety should be playing.
The same applies to Sheldon Richardson. The Jets are not signing him to a second contract after paying Muhammad Wilkerson and with the development of Leonard Williams. It does not matter if the trade compensation back is a 3rd round pick or lower, which the Jets would eventually receive back as a compensatory pick. The point is the Jets need to spend 2017 playing defense without Richardson. The season should be used to develop rotational players behind Wilkerson and Williams, while building out an improved linebacker group. Why spend 2017 doing another year of the failed three man shuffle of Richardson, Wilkerson and Williams when you know Richardson won’t be here in 2018 anyway?
Offensively, despite being a Hall of Fame candidate and Ring of Honor player, the Jets need to cut ties with Nick Mangold. He has been consistently banged up the past two years and his level of play is declining. The Jets appear to have found a potential waiver wire gem in Wesley Johnson, who is 8 years younger and going to be substantially cheaper. What are you gaining long term by paying a 33 year old Mangold 9 million dollars in 2017, while Johnson sits on the bench? He should be starting every game and hopefully setting into his role as the center of the future. He can help in 2018 and beyond, while Mangold cannot.
At wide receiver, the Jets should be kicking every tire possible on a Brandon Marshall trade. Yes, his numbers are down in part because of quarterback play but it is not only because of that. Marshall has clearly lost a step, is dropping more passes than ever and not regularly making the acrobatic plays he was last season. This isn’t going to change or improve as a 33, 34 or 35 year old. Marshall should not be in this team’s plans in 2018 or beyond. Every rep or target he gets next season could be going to Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, Devin Smith or Jalin Marshall, who will likely comprise the long term receiver group here.
Many will advocate for the leadership value of older players on the roster. This value is overstated. Marshall, Mangold and Revis were all present this year and the Jets have been a lackadaisical mess, with multiple players regularly missing meetings and walk throughs. The coaches need to coach, not the players. The receivers have played with Marshall for a year and can remember any examples he set on or off the field, or call with him questions. He doesn’t need a roster spot to be a leader. There is no reason guys like Leonard Williams, Enunwa, Bilal Powell and Darron Lee can’t be leaders because of their age.
A team concerned with PR and fooling themselves into thinking they are legitimate contenders in 2017 works to keep Mangold, Revis, Marshall and Richardson around. Unfortunately, the window for a team led by those guys opened and shut in 2015. They blew their opportunity in Buffalo. Don’t spend 2017 trying to recreate 2015. Spend 2017 building for 2018.
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