Geno Smith (Getty Images)
Geno Smith (Getty Images)
NEW YORK JETS
2013 record: 8-8
Projected current salary-cap space (according to OverTheCap.com): $23.7 million over the cap
Key free agents: OT Austin Howard, TE Jeff Cumberland, OLB Calvin Pace, QB David Garrard, S Ed Reed, TE Kellen Winslow.
Possible salary-cap casualties: CB Antonio Cromartie, QB Mark Sanchez, WR Santonio Holmes, LB David Harris, RB Mike Goodson, CB Kyle Wilson.
Draft situation: The Jets will draft 18th in the first round. They also have an additional third- or fourth-rounder from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Darrelle Revis trade. If Revis is on the Bucs' roster on March 13, the Jets will have a third; otherwise, it drops to a fourth.
Revisiting 2013: The Jets were competitive out of the chute with rookie quarterback Geno Smith, as he looked impressive in wins over the Bucs in Week 1 and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5. But the team pinged back and forth from win to loss for the first 10 games of the season and never could kick it into another gear — especially offensively, where Smith's turnovers (25 combined) and consistency were problematic issues. Despite gaining some momentum late in the season, winning three of the final four games, the Jets fell short of the playoffs at 8-8. But to win that many games despite preseason predictions of doom and gloom and with the Jets being outscored by 97 points on the season, head coach Rex Ryan's excellent work was rewarded with a contract extension following the season.
Glaring hole to fill: The Jets of course must figure out if Smith is their quarterback for the next several seasons, and he likely will receive some competition from a rookie and perhaps a veteran, but we'll put that to the side for a moment. Finding whomever the quarterback will be some quality offensive components — Nos. 1 and 2 receivers, two more tight ends, and a guard and a tackle — will be crucial.
Toughest decision: The Jets will jump into the offensive free-agent market, but will their investments be worth the money? Eric Decker is seeking No. 1 receiver money. Is he worth that or were his numbers inflated by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos' system? Is there a game-changing tight end in free agency, or will they need to take one high in the draft? The Jets also might need to add speed to the backfield, and even with extra draft picks (they could add two compensatory picks as well), the needs are many. But the veteran pool of players might not be deep or strong enough to warrant the heavy financial investment, putting an even greater onus on having a huge draft to help the offense.
Best-case offseason scenario: Ryan is signed on for multiple seasons, per reports, and is considered off the hot seat. The Jets were one of the 10 youngest teams in the NFL last season and must keep that in mind — going for the quick fix for what appears to be an overrated lot of offensive free agents (prior to the majority of salary-cap cuts happening yet) might be a poor approach. Still, the Jets must add on multiple fronts on that side of the ball for two reasons: to take some pressure off the defense and also to give the team a better idea if Smith can take the quarterback job and run with it.
Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions; 22. Tennessee Titans; 21. New York Giants; 20. St. Louis Rams; 19. Chicago Bears; 18. Pittsburgh Steelers; 17. Dallas Cowboys; 16. Baltimore Ravens
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