COMMENTARY | A lot has changed in one year. Last year, the New York Jets were a mess -- they were entering their offseason having fired their longtime general manager Mike Tannenbaum, after failing to make the playoffs for a second year in a row; they had little to no cap room; they were dealing with Darrelle Revis' "show me the money" attitude, oh, and, they had to deal with their quarterback debacle.
This offseason will be different.
The Jets ended the 2013 season on a promising note, and the young team has a lot of upside. New general manager John Idzik has done well and has one year under his belt, and once he releases some players with big contracts (Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez), they will have a ton of salary cap room to make some noise in free agency. But before they can start thinking of who they should bring in, the team must first address its current crop of in-house free agents.
The team has 17 players on their roster that will enter free agency, but luckily for them, many of them are not big-name players. Let's take a look at five who the Jets should keep.
Josh Cribbs, WR/KR
The Jets should seriously consider bringing back kick return specialist Josh Cribbs. With his versatility and explosiveness, Cribbs is a playmaker; he would be able to give the Jets good field position most of the time, and the Jets need all the help they can get on offense.
Cribbs is a three-time Pro Bowler, making the roster in 2007, 2009 and last in 2012. That season, Cribbs finished with 1,178 kick return yards and 457 punt return yards. In his career, Cribbs has eight touchdowns on kickoff returns, and three touchdowns on punt returns. In his six games as a Jet, Cribbs averaged 24.5 yards per kickoff return and 12 yards per punt return.
Calvin Pace, OLB
While the rest of the team around him is getting younger, Pace, at 33 years old, is getting older. Yes, Pace has lost a step or two, but he is far from finished, and he showed he still has something left in the tank this past season; Pace started all 16 games, finishing with 55 tackles, two forced fumbles and 10 sacks.
If the Jets are able to retain him at a low salary, they should bring him back. Pace is still a good exterior pass-rusher, and with his experience and knowledge of the schemes, he can be of help to the younger players.
Nick Folk, K
The New York Jets kicker has been clutch since signing on with the team, and it would be a mistake not to bring him back. This past offseason was no different. Folk had his best season yet, making 91.7 percent of his field-goal attempts; converting a career-high 33 kicks in 36 attempts.
Jeff Cumberland, TE
The Jets should keep Jeff Cumberland, but only as a No. 2 tight end -- they need an explosive playmaker at the position, and Cumberland is not it. Cumberland is a serviceable tight end, and has done well the past two seasons, but he has reached his ceiling for potential.
He finished the 2013 season with 26 receptions for 398 yards and four touchdowns, which proves he can make plays, so it would be wise to bring back the four-year veteran and have him on the depth chart -- just not as the No.1 tight end.
Austin Howard, RT
The Jets right tackle has been a solid lineman for the team the past two years. He has provided great run-blocking for the Jets' run-game, but he does need some work in pass protection. As an athletic 26-year-old lineman, and showing flashes of potential throughout the season, he has a lot of upside.
(All stats via ESPN.com)
Jonathan Peralta is a proud New Yorker that has been covering the New York Jets and the NFL on various sports websites the past few years. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, the Star-Ledger, Fox Sports Radio and Fox Sports Yardbarker. For sports news and updates, follow @itsJPeralta on Twitter.
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