NFL free agency begins next week. Will the Jets release more players in an effort to clear some more room? Will they be as active as they were a year ago? Who needs to get restructured contracts? What will happen with Ryan Fitzpatrick? We'll look at some likely and unlikely outcomes in the coming days. First up: Highly unlikely outcomes
Trading Muhammad Wilkerson in first three days of free agency:
I've seen some argue that beyond the draft picks the Jets would acquire, the Jets should trade Wilkerson for the secondary purpose of freeing up cap space to spend elsewhere. Here's my three issues with that...
First, this year's draft class is teeming with defensive talent and is overstocked with defensive linemen. To put it in perspective, 13 of the 31 first round picks could be used on used on defensive linemen -- that's 42 percent! It might only take a handful of teams to make a market for Wilkerson, but consider that almost half of the teams are considering the outcome of drafting a first round pick on the defensive line and having him under a team-friendly contract for five years before they have to dole out one like they would for Wilkerson today. Many teams will take themselves out of such a choice.
Second, the Panthers just cut Charles Johnson on the heels of the Bills cutting Mario Williams. Assuming there are four or five teams that might entertain trading for Wilkerson while he's still in his prime, Williams and Johnson would be excellent arbitrage plays on Wilkerson and cost drastically less in money and draft picks since they are already free agents. Of the handful of teams interested in Wilkerson, they will want to explore Johnson and Williams first, cutting the market even more.
Third, for the Jets to get this added benefit of usable cap space to allocate elsewhere in free agency, time is everything. If trading Wilkerson is a "bomb" and the explosion could kill usable cap space on the very best available free agent players, the team must diffuse the bomb by trading Mo on or before the first day of free agency. Tick, tick, tick.
Bringing Back Demario Davis:
Davis's snaps plummeted in December after a shaky 2015 season. In his place, the Jets elevated Erin Henderson to a much larger role and Henderson responded much better than Davis did. I can't imagine that Todd Bowles wants to make Davis an integral piece of his defense after the way 2015 went.
Re-signing Damon Harrison:
First, go read this article.
Think of the odds that Harrison has smashed to get to this point in his career. Harrison was not highly recruited out of high school and stocked shelves at a Walmart to help pay for tuition at Northwest Mississippi. Then on a promise of a scholarship, Harrison transferred to William Penn, an NAIA school. After going undrafted, Harrison caught on with the Jets and was under the tutelage of Rex Ryan's staff. He didn't record a single stat in 2012 while playing in five games.
Then in 2013, Harrison benefitted from Sione Pouha's departure and an injury to Kenrick Ellis and started to play - and play well. Now given the chance to start, Harrison never looked back and became a cult hero among Jets and defensive line fetishists around the league.
Now Harrison is able, for the first and maybe only time in his life to go play for a team who could offer him close to $7 million a year. I doubt the Jets can match that and in fact they are probably offering 30 percent less. Not only do I wish Snacks the best, I know he deserves it. I will cheer for Harrison wherever he goes, except on those Sundays when he plays the Jets.