New York Jets – 2015 Free Agency Review/2016 Projections

Joe Caporoso breaks down the performance of Mike Maccagnan’s 2015 free agent class and projects 2016

Continuing our three part series of reviewing New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan’s rookie season, we look at his 2015 free agent signings and project what could be on the way for 2016. Part one on the 2015 draft picks is here and part two on the 2015 trades is here…

Better Than Expected

Offensive Guard, James Carpenter – 4 years, 19.1 million dollars, 7.5 million guaranteed

Carpenter was arguably the Jets best, most consistent offensive lineman in 2015, thriving in Chan Gailey’s man blocking scheme compared to his struggles with zone blocking in Seattle. At 26 years old and with first round talent, Carpenter should be a mainstay for the Jets offensive line in the coming years.

Safety, Marcus Gilchrist – 4 years, 22 million dollars, 8.5 million guaranteed

This contract was initially derided by many before they read the fine print. This is a glorified year to year contract and Gilchrist exceeded expectations as the Jets starting safety in 2015. He was consistent in both run and pass defense, avoided any major breakdowns on the back end and was an ideal running mate for ascending second year player Calvin Pryor. He finished with 82 tackles, 3 interceptions and 7 passes defensed.

Linebacker, Erin Henderson – 1 year, $745,000 dollars, 0 guaranteed.

Henderson gradually took playing time away from Demario Davis and is more than likely to be signed to a new contract as the team’s starting linebacker next to David Harris. The Jets took a flier on him and it paid off, as they found a better option than the consistently ineffective Davis. He finished 2015 with 45 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.

About As Expected

Cornerback, Darrelle Revis – 5 years, 70 million dollars, 39 million guaranteed

The BIG deal of the off-season. Darrelle Revis remains one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and had his usual trickle down impact on a defense. He is not the player he was in 2009 or 2010 but that does mean he isn’t immensely valuable. The Revis signing was a needed move for the Jets from both an on the field and off the field perspective, as it brought a degree of credibility back into an organization that been floundering for half a decade. A true final verdict on this deal can’t be given until we see how Revis evolves his game in 2017 and 2018. Revis finished with 5 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries and 39 tackles.

Cornerback, Buster Skrine – 4 years, 25 million dollars, 13 million guaranteed

Started out the season with a bang before slowing down mid-season with various injuries but then finishing on a relatively high note. At 26 years old, Skrine will be a blocking block on the Jets defense in the all-important slot corner role. The Jets got the needed upgrade they expected at the position. Skrine finished with 56 tackles, 1 interception, and 7 passes defensed.

Linebacker, Jamari Lattimore – 1 year, $825,000 dollars, $60,000 guaranteed

Signed to be a depth player and lead special teamer, which is exactly what he was. Lattimore finished with 13 tackles and could be back in the same role next season.

Defensive End, Stephen Bowen – 1 year, $960,000 dollars, $60,000 guaranteed

Played 139 defensive snaps in a depth, rotational role and chipped in 8 tackles. It was mildly surprising he made it on the roster all season so we’ll keep him in this category.

Worse Than Expected

Cornerback, Antonio Cromartie – 4 years, 32 million dollars, 7 million guaranteed

This probably belongs in the category above because most of us expected Cromartie to struggle. He was up and down but provided none of the big plays to balance it out, finishing the year with zero interceptions and 1 fumble recovery. He is on a glorified year to year deal and will have to restructure in 2016 or face the possibility of being cut. Overall, this money could have been allocated better in 2015, as the Jets would have been fine with Marcus Williams and Darrin Walls playing Cromartie’s reps.

Tight End, Kellen Davis – 1 year, $950,000, $40,000 guaranteed

Davis was brought in to be the blocking tight end and he filled that role poorly. He offers nothing in the passing game and isn’t a consistent enough blocker to merit a roster spot. Davis is unlikely to be back next year.

Running Back, Stevan Ridley – 1 year, 1.25 million, $80,000 guaranteed

Ridley had 40 touches for 88 yards, he never appeared to get any burst back when returning from his injury that landed him on the early season PUP list. The Jets took a low cost gamble with him and it didn’t pay off. He is highly unlikely to be back in 2016.

Everybody Else: Considering they were mid-season replacements, it is hard to criticize the additions of Randy Bullock and Kenbrell Thompkins, particularly Thompkins who had some nice moments this season. The decision to bring back Bilal Powell, Willie Colon and Leger Douzable were all solid considering what they contributed and what they were paid. Minimum level additions Joe Mays, Kevin Vickerson and James Brewer did not make the 2015 roster.

2016: A few areas you may see the Jets focus on: offensive line (particularly tackle), Y tight end, running back, outside linebacker and returner. The Jets won’t go on a spending spree like last year but will instead be more focused on getting Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bilal Powell, Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison back or in the case of Wilkerson, exchanged for proper value.

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports