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Although the Jets have over 20 pending free agents this offseason, there are five that stand to cost a significant amount to retain. Those players are Robby Anderson, Jordan Jenkins, Kelvin Beachum, Brian Poole and Alex Lewis.
It's likely the Jets will be hoping to retain most, if not all, of these players.
However, let's try to identify someone who could be a realistic alternative for each of them if they were to leave.
Replacing Robby Anderson
Most of the media continues to fall into the trap of believing that Robby Anderson is a one-trick pony who only runs go-routes, despite the fact that he's consistently been at his most effective when used in a more varied role.
Nevertheless, if he leaves, that deep threat potential will be one of the main elements the Jets offense will be lacking. The team tried to go deep to Vyncint Smith several times last year and did not have much success in doing so.
Clearly there's an abundance of receiving talent in the draft and that may be where the Jets get their new number one receiver from if Anderson opts to sign for another team. However, if they're going the free agent route, maybe they'll take a flyer on Breshad Perriman. The 26-year old broke out as a productive big-play threat over the second half of last year but perhaps doesn't have a big enough body of work to command elite money.
Replacing Jordan Jenkins
Jenkins has racked up 15 sacks over the past two seasons and can set the edge in the running game, but many of those sacks have come in clean-up and he doesn't generate constant pressure. Therefore, he may be overpriced in the free agent market and the Jets - who are already solid against the run - may prefer someone who can contribute more in the pass rush.
It would make sense for them to show interest in Markus Golden from the New York Giants to fill this role. Like Jenkins, he might cost upwards of $10 million per year but he's been much more productive in terms of generating pressure and had double digits in sacks for the second time last season.
Replacing Kelvin Beachum
With Joe Douglas' links to the Eagles organization, Halapoulivaati Vaitai makes a lot of sense for the Jets if they can't re-sign Beachum. In fact, he could be an option even if Beachum returns.
The 26-year old has played both tackle positions but proved he could hold down the left tackle spot in 2017 when Jason Peters got injured. He started the last 12 games, including the three postseason games as the Eagles went on to beat New England in Super Bowl LII.
While he had some issues during that run, surrendering a total of six sacks and five penalties, his overall play was encouraging for a first-time starter. Also, he graded out well while playing over 500 snaps last season, so still appears to be developing.
Replacing Brian Poole
If any other teams were looking around the league for a potential affordable replacement at the slot cornerback position, you can bet that they've identified Poole after an excellent 2019 season.
The Jets would hate to lose him, but if they did, they'd need to find someone else who was capable of manning the slot. There are a few possibilities here, but let's highlight Logan Ryan - a player the Jets were rumored to have shown interest in before. The 29-year old was earning $10 million per year on his last contract, but he played more slot snaps than anyone in the NFL last year.
Replacing Alex Lewis
Lewis initially looked good last season, but ultimately wasn't able to elevate the Jets' pitiful running game. The Jets may be keen to retain him having given up a late-round pick when they traded for him in August, though.
If they decide to go in another direction, Graham Glasgow has been solid over the past few seasons and what might make him extra attractive to the Jets is his ability to play either guard or center. That could give the Jets options if there are injuries during the season or if they draft their center of the future and he's not quite ready by the start of the season.
These players are all important to the Jets and the team would still have money left over to make some upgrades even if they manage to re-sign all five. However, it's important to recognize they have a few alternatives if they get priced out of the market on a few of these. Ideally, the Jets would probably be keen to address each of these needs before April's draft.