Stay or Go: Analyzing what the Jets' plan should be for their 19 unrestricted free agents

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Ralph Vacchiano
·5 min read
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New York Jets safety Marcus Maye jogs off field following game vs Buffalo Bills
New York Jets safety Marcus Maye jogs off field following game vs Buffalo Bills

The good news for the Jets is they will have plenty of money to spend when free agency begins. Even better, they likely won’t have to spend a lot of it on their own players. Other than safety Marcus Maye, there just aren’t a lot of pending free agents on their roster who they absolutely have to re-sign.

Still, they could try to bring back a few of the 19 players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents on March 17. Here’s a look at all of them, and what the Jets’ plans for them might and should be...

S Marcus Maye – This is an interesting dilemma for the Jets, to see whether they will spend just because they can. They value the 27-year-old Maye, but enough to pay him like a top safety? Those kind of players make $14 million per year, which means four years, $56 million with about $30 million guaranteed, possibly more. The Jets can certainly afford that, but when they’re sitting on so much cap space, maybe the $11 million franchise tag makes more sense. That gives him a year in Robert Saleh’s defense to see if he can have the kind of impact you’d want from a big-contract guy.

WR Breshad Perriman – They took a one-year flier on him in a desperation move after Robby Anderson bolted for Carolina and they didn’t get much for their $6 million, even when he was healthy. The Jets can and will do better at receiver in free agency and the draft.

CB Brian Poole – He’s still a good slot corner when he’s healthy, but after giving him back-to-back one-year deals, the Jets will likely bring in another veteran to groom their young corners (Richard Sherman, anyone?).

S Bradley McDougald – The veteran safety wasn’t just a throw-in in the Jamal Adams trade. The Jets genuinely liked him and felt he was a valuable presence in a young secondary. He only played seven games, which is a concern, but it could be worth a one-year deal to bring him back to play with Maye and Ashtyn Davis. If Maye somehow shakes free, they may have no choice.

LB Jordan Jenkins – After 15 sacks in 2018-19, nobody wanted him in free agency, so he slinked back to the Jets on a one-year, $3.75 million deal and had just two sacks in 12 games while battling a shoulder injury. He’ll be only 27 this summer, but now he’s coming off shoulder surgery and a terrible season. He’ll go elsewhere to try to restart his career.

RB Frank Gore – He’ll be 38 in May and he’s got to retire some time, right? That seems to be where he’s headed. If not, the Jets are still likely to lean on younger running backs. But for another year and another $1 million, they could do a lot worse than Gore as a backup.

LB Tarell Basham – A former third-round pick whose role and performance increased late in the season. He had 3 ½ sacks in part-time duty. He won’t cost much, so he’d be a decent player to keep as part of an edge-rushing rotation.

LB Neville Hewitt – A surprisingly valuable starter the last two seasons, the Jets could probably bring him back on a low-cost deal to play behind the returning C.J. Mosley. He may have earned himself a shot at a starting job elsewhere, though.

QB Joe Flacco – Good veteran backup quarterbacks are hard to find, so the Jets should try to keep him. But the 36-year-old wants to play, so he may go elsewhere for a better chance. If the Jets go with a rookie, though, New York might look good to him again.

G Pat Elflein – A late-season waiver claim, he was a strong addition for the Jets and could figure into their new-look starting lineup. But the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Football Team all tried to claim him in November. So there could be considerable competition for his services and he won’t be cheap.

C Josh Andrews – A fine backup center/guard who had to start four games. The Jets had him at the NFL minimum last season and could offer him the same again.

S Matthias Farley – Returning special teams coach Brant Boyer will surely want his special teams captain back, and it shouldn’t cost much to make that happen.

CB Arthur Maulet – The Jets have to do much better with their cornerbacks this offseason, so a clean sweep of anyone not on their rookie contract should be coming.

CB Bennett Jackson – Since he can play safety, too, he’s a good guy to have on the bottom of the roster at an NFL minimum salary. He’ll be 30 in September, though, so wherever he is, he’ll be battling for a job.

TE Daniel Brown – He barely played last season, and the Jets will surely look to upgrade this position in Mike LaFleur’s offense.

LB Patrick Onwuasor – A former Raven who spent most of his first year with the Jets on injured reserve. He could get an invitation to camp to provide some depth.

LB Bryce Hager – A special-teamer who was forced to start the last two games of the season. He showed enough to warrant another look this summer.

TE Ross Travis – A journeyman who will continue his journey elsewhere.

DL Trevon Coley – Spent the last two weeks of the season on the Jets’ practice squad. That’s probably it.