Now that the Super Bowl is over, the New York Jets can begin cleaning up the wreckage from their 5-11 season and start yet another rebuilding project. Despite being on the cusp of the playoffs a year ago, they seem farther away than ever now.
With that in mind, here are some of the biggest questions the Jets must answer this offseason. We'll check back in each week to see how they're doing, whether any of the questions have been answered, and whether any have changed:
1. Who is their quarterback?
It sounds like a broken record, but there's nothing more important than this. If a team wants to contend for a Super Bowl, especially in this era, it needs a franchise quarterback -- or at least one capable of playing at an elite level. The Jets have Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.
This offseason will be about deciding whether they saw enough to like from Petty this season (they didn't); whether they're confident that Hackenberg, a second-round pick who didn't play at all in 2016, will be ready to start in Year 2 (doubtful); whether they should bring back Geno Smith for a short-term fix (intriguing, but probably not); whether they should use the No. 6 pick on a quarterback or trade up (maybe); or whether they should find a quarterback in free agency (probably).
If they come out of the offseason without answering this question, not only does nothing else matter, but the probably will likely fall to a new coach in 2018.
2. Is Sheldon Richardson part of the future, and if not who replaces him?
The Jets tried to trade him during their lost season, but couldn't find a team willing to meet their price. The entire NFL expects them to try again during the offseason. It seems like no-brainer. The Jets need cap room and Richardson has a cap hit of $8 million. He underachieved last season and has been trouble in the locker room and off the field. And with Muhammad Wilkerson signed long-term and Leonard Williams coming off a Pro Bowl season, the Jets aren't exactly thin on the defensive line.
Of course, they're not deep either, so if they do trade Richardson they need to replace him. If they get a decent haul of draft picks (or a high enough pick) in return, it could be worth it. He's only 26 so he'll definitely have value, though his issues and his price tag also have the potential to drag that down.
3. Is Darrelle Revis coming back, and if so as a cornerback or a safety?
As bad as Revis' 2016 season was, you don't just write off a Hall of Fame-bound player and assume there's no chance he'll rebound. Obviously if Revis returns, he'll have to agree to a sizeable pay cut. But the Jets first have to decide if they want him back. Can they forgive this past season as a career anomaly or do they believe it was the start of a steep and stunning decline?
If they think he can still play, he could be a mentor to a young and rebuilding secondary. He also could be better as a safety at this stage of his career, something both Revis and the Jets are open to trying. He's due a $2 million bonus on March 10 so they need to make up their minds by then.
4. How are they going to fix their offensive line?
Assuming they have a quarterback to protect, they'll need people to protect him -- particularly two new tackles with Ryan Clady likely out and Breno Giacomini and Ben Ijalana probably going too. The Jets do have a promising interior with newly re-signed guard Brian Winters and guard James Carpenter flanking center Wes Johnson (assuming Nick Mangold doesn't return).
But they'll either have to find some money to go find a tackle in free agency or, perhaps more likely, spend a high pick on one in the draft. It's unclear at this stage if there's a tackle worthy of the No. 6 pick in the draft or if the Jets would even do that. But a second-round pick on this spot would seem to make a lot of sense.
5. Who are their starting receivers?
The Jets are really high on their young trio of receivers of Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and Charone Peake. But are any of them ready to be starters? Or will they have to bring Brandon Marshall and/or Eric Decker back again?
Marshall and Decker would seem to be luxuries more suitable to a team close to contention. Marshall is 32, coming off a terrible season and due $7.5 million this season, and the Jets could save it all against the cap by cutting him. Decker, 29, is coming off hip and shoulder surgeries and no one will even say for sure if he'll be ready for training camp this summer. He's also due $7.25 million and carries a cap number of $8.75 million, and the Jets can save $5.75 million by letting him go.
It sounds like an easy decision. Then again, both are terrific players (last season notwithstanding), and if the Jets go with a young quarterback then they're going to want him surrounded by as many reliable targets as they can afford.