The Jets, who have been attempting to escape the middling quick sand of mediocrity, are slated to have one of the more intriguing off-seasons in recent history. Unexpected talent emerging from a young roster combined with a hefty $100 million in cap space may make for an accelerated “rebuild.”
General manager Mike Maccagnan will need to play his cards right, however. This includes spending money wisely opposed to aggressively, as JetsNation has previously witnessed.
In that regard, the 2018 free agent market will be a shopping mall for NFL teams. Over 400 players will be searching for new contracts, and many of them will likely be surging their asking prices. This is where things could get muffled for the Jets. They will not only need to juggle a player’s price, but their future endeavors as well.
Diving into the profound free agent class uncovers many familiar names. The Jets, who have done their fair share of house cleaning over the past few years, will be presented the opportunity to negotiate with some former players. Some of which are still relevant and could make an impactful presence in a potential return. Others, however, may not bring any positive companionship.
Would any of these reunions make sense?
Sheldon Richardson, DT
Average Annual Value: $2,513,500 (Spotrac)
The opinion isn’t a popular one among JetsNation, but let’s face it, a Sheldon Richardson-Jets reunion may make sense. Only one year after being traded to Seattle, Richardson is slated to hit free agency. The young and athletic defensive tackle has compiled back-to-back down years and will likely look for a mid-range deal this off-season. For the Jets, this could be a hit or miss. The team will likely be looking to fill the void of Muhammad Wilkerson, who is expected to be cut or traded. While other options will be on the table, Richardson’s presence will standout simply because he may be less expensive, and he is already familiar with the team.
But on the flip side of that, Richardson presents a risk. During his first stint with the Jets, he was unable to abide to the leadership role that the Jets had asked of him. His off-the-field antics and slew of locker room distractions led to his eventual trade. The Jets would have to be certain that his one-year vacation in Seattle was enough to set him straight.
Eric Decker, WR
Average Annual Value: $4,000,000 (Spotrac)
After being released by the Jets and scooped by the Titans just one year go, the veteran wide receiver may be looking for a new home again this off-season. However, at age 30, Eric Decker has shown signs of fatigue. In his last season with the Jets, Decker played in only three games, catching two touchdowns on 194 yards receiving. He battled injury all throughout the year before eventually landing on the IR, and the Jets did not foresee a future with the vet. 2017 was Decker’s chance at redemption, however his tiredness still seemed to haunt him.
A reunion with a youthful Jets team may not be the ideal landing spot for Decker in 2018. With a number of receivers emerging into the spotlight, Decker’s presence may only quantify into being that of a role model. And while the Jets may love that idea, Decker may avoid that position late in his career. His numbers would likely continue to take a hit, and as a veteran, he may not be willing to succumb to that of a rebuilding team.
Marcus Gilchrist, S
Average Annual Value: $3,000,000 (Spotrac)
Another former Jet fresh off a one year deal. Marcus Gilchrist spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons in New York, having signed a deal with the Houston Texans this past off-season. With another somewhat average season under his belt, Gilchrist will likely be looking to contribute to any team that pitches him a fair offer.
While the Jets seem pretty solidified at the safety position with rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye showing their worth, a reunion with Gilchrist (at the right price) could make sense. Gilchrist had his best career season in New York in 2015 where he set personal records in both tackles and interceptions. In his two years in the Green & White, he presented himself as a threat in the secondary.
But now heading into his 8th career season, the same shouldn’t be expected from Gilchrist. The Jets could offer him a fair deal, but with the way their secondary is already evolving, it won’t be all that necessary. Gilchrist could provide great backup support and further the development of the rookies, but the Jets may prefer to spend their money elsewhere.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
Average Annual Value: $3,000,000 (Spotrac)
We know what you’re thinking: Not. Again.
And you’re probably right. The 35 year old vet will be entering his 14th NFL season, and has been far less than spectacular since his career year in 2015. If Ryan Fitzpatrick hopes to remain in the league, he’ll have to expect a few balls in the dirt in terms of offers this off-season.
Sure, the Jets would love a veteran to mentor their soon to be young quarterback (probably), but Fitzpatrick shouldn’t be the guy they have fill that role. Gang Green will likely pursue Josh McCown once again in hopes to bring him back on a one year deal. If they cannot, is it possible that they re-sign…
Mark Sanchez, QB
Average Annual Value: $2,000,000 (Spotrac)
Again, probably not. But let’s not knock it until we examine what could be.
Mark Sanchez hasn’t ever been too great. The case can be made that he brought the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2009 & 2010, but his stats only prove that it wasn’t really him, but the defense. And since then, Sanchez has adopted the journeyman mentality as he’s bounced around the league quite a bit.
If the Jets were to bring him in, it likely wouldn’t last long. He’s no overly experienced veteran who could help develop a young quarterback. Rather, Sanchez would strictly be a backup; a third-stringer at that. The Jets could pitch him a low-ball offer with little risk on their side. It would allow them to cut him loose and open some roster space, even if he never took the field. It’s a highly unlikely scenario, but with a chance of the Jets losing McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg this off-season, Sanchize could be reborn.
Marcus Williams, CB
Average Annual Value: $2,746,000 (Spotrac)
The Jets may certainly be in the market for a cornerback this off-season. With veteran Morris Claiborne slated to hit free agency, and many of the Jets’ young corners failing to excel, many would expect the Jets to sign and/or draft a corner.
Marcus Williams brings an interesting dynamic to the table. In his four career seasons as a backup corner in New York, Williams certainly made his mark. He totaled nine interceptions and 23 pass deflections. Williams has kept up the pace during his second stint with the Texans as well. And while he may still not be starter-worthy, the Jets could offer him a nice deal to allow for some more stability in their secondary. If the Jets do indeed target a corner in the draft, Williams would serve as a great reserve and mentor at that position.
Jarvis Jenkins, DE
Average Annual Value: $825,000 (Spotrac)
The seven-year veteran Jarvis Jenkins once had a decent year in New York. While he has never truly be a game-changing player, Jenkins has always provided great pressure at defensive end.
A second stint in the Green & White could make sense. With Wilkerson likely out of the locker room, the Jets will almost certainly need replacement on the defensive front. Jenkins wouldn’t be able to fill that void all himself, but he could certainly squeeze in as a decent complimentary add. Similarly to many other of the Jets’ needed positions, Jenkins could come back as a rotating defensive piece. If the team tries to clean up the Wilkerson mess in the draft, a low-end, somewhat cheap option to support the cause could be found in Jenkins.
Geno Smith, QB
Average Annual Value: $1,200,000 (Spotrac)
Similar to that of Sanchez, Geno Smith doesn’t flash all too much except as a potential backup. He struggled mightily during his time with the Jets previously, and hasn’t proven too much more with the Giants. With the draft and free agency being very quarterback friendly, I wouldn’t expect the Jets to lay an offer down for Smith.
Leger Douzable, DT
C.J. Spiller, RB
Travaris Cadet, RB
Jeff Cumberland, TE
Stevan Ridley, RB
Nick Folk, K