In this post, we rank (from highest to lowest) the priorities for the Jets in bringing in outside free agents at the following positions on offense:[sny-hr]
Reasoning: Twenty two NFL players scored more touchdowns (7) than the entire Jets receiving corps did combined in 2013. When put in those terms, receiver is undoubtedly the top concern for free agency. Since the team will have both David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley back, the Jets don't need to shower the top player with cash to make this offense significantly better. Nelson and Kerly can hold their own as second options, so adding a player who can evade and/or muscle through double teams to make life easier on the rest could make an impact for whoever is throwing the ball in 2014.
Potential Targets: Eric Decker is the most buzzworthy name, but the cost along with the post-Peyton Manning letdown might deter the Jets. Emmanuel Sanders and Jeremy Maclin are two names that have been tied to the Jets, but players like James Jones and Golden Tate might also scratch the itch. If the Jets want some depth and special teams help, Dexter McCluster might be a economical option.
NO. 2: RUNNING BACK
Reasoning: Chris Ivory came on towards the end of the season, but inconsistency and injury concerns from Ivory coupled with a lack of dynamic playmakers in the backfield should cause the Jets to look at depth again this year in free agency. In Philadelphia, Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid often relied in running backs who could effectively catch the ball to create yardage. The Jets have not had such a player since LaDainian Tomlinson and while Bilal Powell can be a serviceable backup, he is not most effective in catching the ball, ranking just 44th among all qualifying running backs. Mike Goodson's status for 2014 is unknown as his court case is pending.
Potential Targets: Donald Brown and James Starks both might be a more versatile (and thus costly) option for the Jets but could shine in the Mornhinweg system. Maurice Jones-Drew will be a free agent and Chris Johnson might be. Both players likely want to play for contenders but also need to decrease their expectations of how much they can contribute and expect to be paid. Still, both household names could be effective as pass-catching specialists and runners with the Jets as Tomlinson was once upon a time. While he saw limited targets in Arizona, Rashard Mendenhall might be an interesting option for increased work in New York.
NO. 3: QUARTERBACKReasoning: John Idzik and Rex Ryan might want to give Geno Smith the nod again in 2014, but his December play can't be all that keeps the Jets from adding real competition for Smith. The rookie's season was more down than up, but in his last five games Smith had just three interceptions and six sacks (four came against the stout Panthers) and he looked increasingly comfortable and decisive as the season ended. For the Jets though it would seem that adding quarterbacks comes down to who. Simms and Garrard offer nothing over Smith, so it all depends on if the Jets want to give Smith competition or cooperation.
Potential Targets: Mike Vick is the big one. Ties to Mornhinweg from Philly and Ryan's supposed love of Vick make sense for the Jets if they want to find a an instant competitor to start 2014.
NO. 4: TIGHT ENDReasoning: Between Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow hitting free agency, the position could look different in 2014 and there isn't much in the way of depth players that look like they are ready to become starters straight away. Sudfield has promise and saw a good number of snaps but doesn't seem a compelling every down option ... yet. This is a position of need, but one which we think the Jets will try to fill through the draft.
Potential Targets: There's a number of options, but none that stick out as better than bringing back Cumberland on the cheap and looking to the draft to build out their pass-catchers.
NO. 5: OFFENSIVE LINEReasoning: Between Austin Howard and Willie Colon any players that the Jets might sign might be best if they were already in the fold last year. Beyond that, the 2013 trio of inactives Oday Aboushi, Will Campbell and Ben Ijalana loom large on the Jets bench. We're sure the Jets would like to make one of them take over Colon's role, but the effect on the offense seem far too risky, especially if they don't bring back Howard.
Potential Targets: There should be no adverse issues for Colon once he recovers from surgery for his torn bicep, but Seahawk free agent Paul McQuistan is the type of aggressive player that Rex Ryan likes and one that could fit into the team as a middle-priced free agent guard.