In previous articles we have reviewed how New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan performed in free agency, the NFL Draft and in the trade market. Let’s take a quick overview of what his checklist should look like heading into this off-season. If you missed it, here are 12 predictions on what will happen.
In House Business
- Finalize decision on Muhammad Wilkerson – The biggest financial domino that needs to fall. Is there a long term contract to be done? If not, apply the franchise tag and take another survey of the potential trade market while preparing as if Wilkerson will be on the 2016 roster.
- Sign Ryan Fitzpatrick before free agency opens – Fitzpatrick has inevitable limitations but it makes sense for both sides for this deal to happen quickly. The free agent market and trade market at quarterback is weak and the Jets will not have to break the bank to have some degree of stability heading into the off-season. Fitzpatrick wants to be here and the league knows who he is, meaning a team isn’t going to swoop in and offer him an insane deal.
- Clean the books – Restructure D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Restructure Antonio Cromartie or release him. Restructure Darrelle Revis? Release Jeff Cumberland, Jeremy Kerley and potentially Breno Giacomini.
- Finalize offer to Damon Harrison – Set your price and see if the market is going to allow the price to be acceptable to Harrison. There is a decent chance the Jets could lose him but you can’t keep everybody on the defensive line and he only played 53% of the snaps last year. He is a terrific run stopper but the Jets need to be prepared for his departure.
- Make your decision at running back – Pick Bilal Powell or Chris Ivory. It sounds like the writing is on the wall for this one, with Ivory likely to walk unless the market doesn’t treat him as kindly as expected.
- Make your decision at inside linebacker – Another one that sounds like a near done deal, with Demario Davis walking and Erin Henderson coming back on a low cost deal.
- Rebuild the offensive line – In a perfect world they find a replacement for Breno Giacomini, who has the potential to replace D’Brickashaw Ferguson long term along with adding interior depth. At a minimum, they must upgrade tackle in some way and find a competent backup for Nick Mangold. It wouldn’t be surprising if they let Brian Winters and Jarvis Harrison compete for the other offensive guard spot opposite of James Carpenter.
- Fill out running back depth chart – Outside of Powell or Ivory, the Jets need to do better than Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley. They will need a 1A/1B type back to pair with the incumbent and likely another depth piece behind those two players, ideally a player with special teams ability.
- Make a Y tight end decision – It won’t be Kellen Davis. Are the Jets content to run back Quincy Enunwa at H, Jace Amaro as a Y/H hybrid and Wes Saxton or Zach Sudfeld as depth or do they want a more proven blocker (basically a better version of Davis)?
- Add speed – Particularly at the linebacker position but this is a unit wide mandate. Outside of Lorenzo Mauldin, Buster Skrine and Calvin Pryor who is notable on the Jets defense for the speed they bring to their position? (Sheldon Richardson has it at defensive end, not outside linebacker).
- Load up the edge – It works hand in hand with number one but right now this is Lorenzo Mauldin and a ton of question marks. You can’t count on Calvin Pace despite his century worth of work.
- Cornerback Depth – Darrelle Revis will be a year older. Antonio Cromartie could be gone (should be gone). Buster Skrine is locked into the slot. Marcus Williams has the look of a full time starter but hasn’t shown he can stay healthy for 16 games yet. You can’t count on Dee Milliner. Dexter McDougle is probably nothing more than a sub package player. Darrin Walls is a free agent.
Special Teams (Expect a coordinator hired in the next week)
- New Punter – Maybe easier said than done but the Jets need to move on from Ryan Quigley and find somebody who can be competent. They don’t need a Pro Bowl punter just somebody who can go more than one week without a 21 yard punt.
- Find a returner – No more Zac Stacy or Antonio Cromartie kick returns. No more Jeremy Kerley punt returns. Make it a priority in the middle rounds of the draft or in free agency to find a player who kill two birds with one stone and handle all the return duties, while also offering something on the coverage units.
- Keep Nick Folk healthy – This obviously isn’t in Maccagnan’s hands but would certainly help things in 2016.