Free Agency begins in a few weeks (new league year kicks off March 13th) and the Jets have a lot of difficult decisions to make, especially when you consider they are very tight on cap space.
There have been a variety of reports explaining just how much cap room the Jets have, and Rich Cimini of ESPN (who was relaying information from John Clayton) explains that even with the $8.3 million carryover, the Jets are just $464,000 under the projected cap. This assessment differs from reports that had the Jets much further under (somewhere in the 8-12 mill range), but until we get a clear indication about what the cap will be for the new league year, we can only speculate about what the team will have to spend.
For the sake of conversation, let’s go with the the current belief that 2012 cap will come in around $121-125 mill (with ability to borrow $2 mill), which will leave the Jets will somewhere around $10 mill to spend without restructuring.
Here’s a quick rundown of the free agents from last year’s roster that need to be looked at:
Restricted : TE Matt Mulliganm LB Aaron Maybin, LB Jamaal Westerman, CB Marquice Cole
Unrestricted : QB Mark Brunell, QB Kevin O’Connell, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Plaxico Burress, OL Robert Turner, DT Sione Pouha, LB Bryan Thomas, CB Donald Strictland, S Jim Leonhard, S Brodney Pool, K Nick Folk
In addition to addressing the future of all these free agents with the team, the Jets must also consider how they will handle the other team needs. The overwhelming areas that need improvement are LB (pass rush), Safety, RT, WR and back-up QB (or, depending on who you ask, QB). You could also add RB and TE to the list, among other things.
How the Jets handle the list of current free agents will further impact these priorities. Obviously.
I offered a close examination of the free agent wide receiver landscape last week, and later this week I will take a closer look at the safety position.
Here’s some newsworthy items regarding the Jets off-season homework and the countdown to free agency:
Jets May Add Safety on Draft Weekend
The New York Jets official website brought us this piece of obvious news.
It’s easy to see the Jets need help at the safety position. Both Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool are free agents and Eric Smith is well, Eric Smith. Then there is the simple fact the the position, on the whole, has been a bit of a weak spot and could use stand to be upgraded. That is, if the Jets plan to keep up with the Aaron Hernandez’s and Rob Gronkowski’s of the league.
Alabama’s Mark Barron is a name that has been toseed around a lot as an option for the Jets to select on draft day. It will be interesting to see where Barron lands, particularily in light of his recent injury, but there are several other prospects at the safety position that the Jets could consider, including Antonio Allen and Markelle Martin.
The Jets may very well have to address the need via the draft and free agency. I will offer a closer examination of the FA safeties in the next few days.
Sione Pouha will be a priority in free agency
A really good nose tackle is extremely hard to come by and Pouha is an essential part of the team’s run defense.
Pouha should absolutely be the Jets number one priority in terms of free agents and according to Len Pasquarelli of the Sports XChange, the Jets will “make a big push” to sign Pouha before free agency begins.
So now that we have determined that the Jets want to keep Pouha, the next question is, how much will Pouha command and what kind of an impact will his deal have on the cap? I would guess the Jets will offer him a longer deal (2-3 years) in an effort to lesson the blow against the cap. It also seems unlikely they would franchise him, given that the franchise tag is around $8 million for nose tacklees. » Continue reading “Countdown to Free Agency”