Last week, we brought you six moves I think the Jets should make between the end of their regular season and right up until the very first day of free agency. To recap, feel free to click here:
Before we go any further, let me give you contract figures for the one player I believe the Jets should resign right away:
Resign QB Geno Smith
2 years/$18M, $8M guaranteed ($6M 2017 cap number)
After these two signings, the Jets will have approximately $35M in cap space. I think Breno Giacomini is gone, so that will save $4M and bump that total up to $39M. If Nick Mangold retires or is released, that number jumps to $48M in cap space so let’s operate as if he retired. With these moves in the rear view, the Jets enter the offseason with the following:
$48M in cap space
8 draft picks (6 originally, one from the Sheldon Richardson trade, and one compensatory pick for Damon Harrison)
Like a pass landing in the lap of Hall of Fame FS Ed Reed, let’s return this pick six and give the New York Jets six players in free agency that can help end the playoff drought in 2017:
1. Sign Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth
4 years/$25M, $17M guaranteed ($8M 2017 cap number/$40M remaining)
Why?: The Jets need a LT and they go out and sign the best LT available. Whitworth is an upgrade over soon to be released LT Ryan Clady. He’s a stabilizing force on the OL, and is oftentimes called a leader by other Bengals players. This shores up the left side of the line and goes a long way towards fortifying the OL in general.
2. Sign New England Patriots RT Sebastian Vollmer to a 3 year/$18M deal with $12M guaranteed ($6M year one cap hit; $34M in cap space left)
Why? With Andrew Whitworth already inked, the Jets go to improve the right side of the OL with player from their division rival. The Jets entering next season with Whitworth, Brian Winters, Wesley Johnson, James Carpenter, and Vollmer allows them to improve both the RB and QB play next year. While Vollmer is 32 years old, I think he still has some good football left in him and being able to add him will bring some much needed veteran leadership to the locker room.
3. Sign Buffalo Bills CB Stephon Gilmore to a 5 year/$39M deal with $28M guaranteed ($8M year one cap hit/$26M cap space remaining)
Why?: 26 year old corners that can play man don’t grow on trees and Gilmore is a good young CB that has been inconsistently good in Rex Ryan’s system. Last year, he was much better and after a rough start to this year he has steadied as of late. He currently has 4 INTs, and he is a ball hawk when the ball is in the air. Weakening a division rival like Buffalo by taking one of their two best corners and penciling in Gilmore opposite Buster Skrine allows the Jets to get back to how their secondary looked last year.
4. Sign Seattle Seahawks Kicker Steven Haushcka to a 5 year/$19M deal with $8M guaranteed ($4M year one cap hit/$22M remaining)
Why?: Nick Folk has steadied out after a rough first month of the season, but the Jets have a chance to improve their special Rams and sign the second best kicker in the NFL. He’s 26-29 on field goals this year, and is consistent in kickoffs. A team that’s been doomed by poor kickoffs and missed extra points should invest in the position, and replacing Folk with Haushcka seems like a step towards getting better there.
5. Sign Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd to a 4 year/$27M deal with $16M guaranteed ($6M year one cap hit/ $16M cap space remaining)
Why?: Michael Floyd has seemingly fallen out of favor with Bruce Arians this year and has been replaced in the Cardinals base offense by both John and Jarron Brown. Coach Todd Bowles’s history with Floyd will provide a calming presence for the former first rounder and, coupled with Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, Floyd gives the Jets 3 big body WRs that can play on the outside while Marshall transitions into Decker’s role in the slot full time. Plus, Floyd being 25 means he will stand in line to be Marshall’s replacement once his contract expires after the next season. After posting 3 straight years of at least 40 catches/800 yards/4 TDs his numbers have dipped this year but he’s the kind of player you sign now believing you can develop him better than the previous staff.
6. Sign Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram to a 5 year/$58.9M deal with $30M guaranteed (first year cap hit of $8M/$8M in cap space remaining)
Why?: 22.5 career sacks and 6 this year make Melvin Ingram the exact kind of player off the edge that the Jets have needed since John Abraham. I always believe in addressing needs in free agency and then being able to take the best player available in the draft. Adding Ingram lets the Jets not have to reach for an edge rusher in the top 5 and allows them to transition Lorenzo Mauldin into the situational pass rusher he may just be suited for at this time of his career. The knock against Ingram when he was in the draft was that his arms were too short, but he’s proven to be a pass rushing force. He’s about to enter the prime of his career, and would slot in nicely for the Jets as their starting OLB opposite Jordan Jenkins.
After these 6 signings, the Jets enter the NFL draft with 8 picks and $8M in cap space not counting their draft pick pool. If they pull off these moves, their projected starting lineup looks like this headed into the draft:
QB: Geno Smith
RB: Matt Forte
WR: Brandon Marshall, Michael Floyd, Quincy Enunwa
TE: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
OT: Andrew Whitworth, Sebastian Vollmer
OG: Brian Winters, James Carpenter
C: Wesley Johnson
DE: Mohammed Wilkerson, Leonard Williams
NT: Steve McClendon
OLB: Melvin Ingram, Jordan Jenkins
ILB: David Harris, Darron Lee
CB: Stephon Gilmore, Buster Skrine
FS: Marcus Gilchrist
SS: Calvin Pryor
K: Steven Hauschka
P: Lachlan Edwards
Next week, we draft.
Photo Credit: SanDiegoChargers.com