Putting a potential Muhammad Wilkerson extension to the side and working under the assumption Rex Ryan is back in 2015, here are ten moves the New York Jets could consider this offseason…
1. Cut Chris Johnson
Why?: Cutting the artist formerly known as CJ2K saves the Jets $3.5 million and removes a guy that has consistently complained about touches and taken snaps from Bilal Powell. Cutting him early on let’s you complete move number two.
2. Sign Shane Vereen to a 3 year, $7M deal
Why?: This move weakens a division rival, gives you an upgrade at backup RB, and adds a young versatile RB that can be used how Johnson was supposed to be used. You get him for cheaper than Johnson, as well. By using the money you saved by cutting Johnson on Vereen, you can then turn your attention to move number three.
3. Sign Mike Iupati to a 4 year, $28M deal
Why?: In an ideal world, the New York Jets would have Dakota Dozier and Oday Aboushi starting at both OG spots next year. However, I have a feeling that won’t be the case and the Jets are going to have to upgrade. Willie Colon has been a disaster waiting to happen, and the Jets will most likely let him walk this offseason. Iupati is a two time Pro Bowler that would immediately upgrade the Jets offensive line.
4. Tender Damon Harrison with a RFA designation.
Why?: The Jets need to rebuild the nucleus of their team, and the best way to do that is by keeping your own homegrown stars. However, Damon Harrison has turned into a top 5 NT in the NFL and some team may opt to pay him a premium this upcoming offseason instead of drafting a guy they’d have to wait for. After Ndamukong Suh, Harrison is the best defensive tackle in free agency. If a team is willing to sign Harrison and lose a pick, it would allow the Jets to slide Kenrick Ellis into Harrison’s spot. Ellis is good enough to start on most teams, and will be able to continue to develop with more playing time.
5. Sign Jason Worilds to a 4 year, $34M deal
Why? Worilds and the Steelers were unable to reach a long term deal last offseason, so Worilds is currently playing this season under the Transition Tag. If I’m the Jets, I target Worilds as the replacement for Calvin Pace and as a bookend to Quinton Coples. Worilds is 26 years old and is developing into a complete linebacker.
6. Sign Brandon Spikes to a 3 year, $16M deal
Why? Similar to the Shane Vereen signing, this signing works to better your team plus weaken a division rival. Spikes would be the ideal replacement for David Harris because he can stop the run as good as Harris and is fast enough to have some success in pass coverage. Losing Spikes would be a blow to Buffalo as well, and would weaken one of the better front sevens in the NFL.
7. Sign Antrel Rolle to a 2 year, $17M deal
Why? Dawan Landry’s best days are behind him, so you need a replacement for him. Jaiquawn Jarrett’s Week 10 performance non withstanding, it’s safe to say that the Jets need a FS that can cover and create turnovers and that would allow for the Jets to play Calvin Pryor more as an in the box type of safety. Rolle would improve the back end of a Jets secondary that is being built primarily through the draft, and would be a veteran leader with that young secondary.
8. Draft Marcus Peters in the second round
Why? Peters is the best cornerback in college football, and this is even after he was dismissed from the Huskies. He is 6’0″, 198 pounds, and is extremely physical tackler that would give the Jets 3 young CBs in Peters, Dexter McDougle, and Dee Milliner who all have high ceilings. Peters would thrive in Rex’s man to man scheme.
9. Draft Lael Collins in the first round
Why?: Regardless of Rex’s proclamations to the contrary, we are nearing the end of D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s time as a LT. Collins is LSU’s best blocker, and displayed great technique and footwork in both run and pass protection. Collins could sit a year and then replace Ferguson in 2016, or he can slide right in and replace Ferguson, if he’s cut. Collins would be able to protect whomever the QB is from day one.
10. Draft Brett Hundley in the third round
Why? If Rex is back as Head Coach, then Michael Vick is likely to be back as Rex’s veteran stopgap. Hundley would be a great pick as a guy to sit behind Vick and learn without having to be rushed like Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez were. Hundley does have some deficiencies, but he has the size and strong enough arm to be a very good QB at the next level. Should the Jets draft Hundley, and he actually be allowed to sit for a year or two, he could end up being the best QB in the draft and a long term answer.
So, if the Jets complete these 10 moves, their opening day starters (with rookie/new additions) would look something like this
QB: Michael Vick, Brett Hundley
RB: Chris Ivory, Shane Vereen
WR: Eric Decker
WR: Percy Harvin
WR: Jeremy Kerley
TE: Jace Amaro
LT: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Lael Collins
LG: Mike Iupati
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Oday Aboushi
RT: Breno Giacominni
DE: Mo Wilkerson
NT: Damon Harrison or Kenrick Ellis
DT: Sheldon Richardson
OLB: Quinton Coples
ILB: Brandon Spikes
ILB: Demario Davis
OLB: Jason Worilds
CB: Marcus Peters, Dexter McDougle
CB: Dee Milliner
FS: Antrel Rolle
SS: Calvin Pryor