COMMENTARY | The New York Jets conundrum is a tale filled with conflicting forces: the young turnover-prone quarterback, the once-again lame duck head coach, the supporting cast, or lack thereof; the new and inexperienced general manager, the promising defensive unit, and of course, the surprising 8-8 finish in the 2013 season.
In short, the Jets had a very Jets-like season. And that leaves Jets fans wondering, again, how will the Jets perform the following season?
Because of the unexpected eight-win 2013 season, there is a whiff of optimism in the air again -- which may be a mistake -- in Jets nation. Which leads to one thing: pressure. A lot of it. But, with what could be $30 million in cap space, much of that pressure can be lifted if the Jets become serious players in the free agency market this offseason. All they have to do is release some underperforming big names on their roster, or at least restructure their contracts.
Unlike last season's cash-strapped team, the Jets can afford to splurge on some big-name free agents that can help push them into playoff contention. Let's take a look at some free agents the team should take a look at.
Jeremy Maclin, WR
Coming off a torn ACL, the Jets don't have to spend big money to get the speedy receiver. With his speed and explosiveness, Maclin is a big-play threat after the catch; his familiarity with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's playbook is also a plus. In four seasons, Maclin hauled in 258 passes for 3,453 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Hakeem Nicks, WR
New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks has shown that he can be a big-play receiver; he is the prototypical receiver at 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds. He is a physical receiver with strong hands and deceptive speed. He is only 25 years old and has a lot of upside. In Nicks' five seasons with Big Blue, the receiver hauled in 297 passes for 4,346 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Jimmy Graham, TE
Now, before I continue, I do realize this is a long shot. But can you imagine? The New Orleans Saints tight end is playing out of his mind this season; Graham finished the regular season with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, Graham is a giant end zone target and matchup nightmare. It's very hard to believe the Saints will let Graham walk, but if the Jets are serious about wanting to upgrade their offense, they are going to have to be willing to throw some serious money Graham's way.
Jairus Byrd, FS
Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd is a big-time playmaker on defense; he disrupts plays and creates turnovers (11 forced fumbles). He is one of the best ball-hawking safeties in the league, with 22 interceptions in five seasons. As we've seen in the 2013 season, the Jets need help in the secondary, so bringing in Byrd would be a big upgrade.
Jon Asamoah, Guard
The Kansas City Chiefs guard has done a great job since taking over for Brian Waters. Asamoah is an athletic lineman that excels in both the passing and run-blocking game. Picking up the lineman can immediately help a troublesome Jets offensive line.
Michael Vick, QB
With Mark Sanchez most likely gone, the Jets should be in the market for a veteran quarterback -- no, David Garrard and his Lego knees will not suffice -- so why not look at Mornhinweg's old quarterback? Yes, Vick lost his job to Nick Foles during the season, but the quarterback still has the tools to make plays; he still has the arm to throw the deep ball, and still has the legs to make plays on the run. Let's not forget that Vick's familiarity with Mornhinweg's playbook is a plus, and he did have success in the coordinator's system. In the three seasons playing under Mornhingweg, Vick threw for 8,683 yards, 51 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
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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