Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
We've looked at some of the roster decisions facing the Jets as we head into the offseason over the past few weeks. Readers overwhelmingly voted to keep Eric Decker, Nick Mangold and David Harris and to dump Darrelle Revis, but were torn on Brandon Marshall and Sheldon Richardson. How about some of the other decisions facing the front office and coaching staff?
Of course young players like Leonard Williams and Darron Lee or players that performed well in 2016 like James Carpenter and Bilal Powell will return in 2017, but that about those whose performance was more disappointing?
The Jets would probably be locked into retaining Muhammad Wilkerson due to the dead money hit that releasing him would give rise to, but I believe the team is sincere in their recent comments that they expect him to return to form in 2017 anyway.
Matt Forte's production was solid while healthy even though he was a mild disappointment last season. The Jets need to be smarter about how they use him next year. I don't envision them giving up on him already having specifically targeted him last offseason.
With a pending cap hit of over $10 million and durability and performance concerns, there's almost no chance Ryan Clady returns, even on a restructured deal. Similarly, Breno Giacomini was outperformed by much cheaper options and is about to have back surgery, so he seems unlikely to return. The circumstances surrounding Erin Henderson's departure from the team are a mystery but it seems unlikely he'll be back for the second year of his two-year deal.
Pending free agents
Here is a list of the pending free agents heading into the next league year. There are not many key contributors on the list. The team is likely to try and retain restricted free agent Wesley Johnson, who did a good job filling in for Mangold at center and can also play guard. They may also look to keep starting right guard Brian Winters, depending on the cost. The team would like to retain special teams ace Josh Martin, but the Patriots are expected to be interested in poaching him.
Beyond that, most of these players have a low priority and probably won't attract more than a minimum salary next season. Ben Ijalana and Marcus Williams are two who could draw interest. That means the chances of them obtaining any compensatory picks in 2018 are slim, so there won't be any limits placed on the number of unrestricted free agents they can target in March.
The team could still weigh up whether to retain, release or even trade the likes of Marcus Gilchrist, Calvin Pryor, Devin Smith, Nick Folk, Steve McLendon and Buster Skrine.
In the case of Gilchrist, he's been viewed as a leader but is coming off a knee injury and may not be healthy enough to contribute by the start of next season. Skrine and Pryor have been two mainstays in the secondary, but does their play make them worth keeping? The idea of trading Pryor has been floated in the media, but Skrine seems more likely to stay after they restructured his deal to backload some of the cap hits last year.
Folk's future will depend on whether the team feels it's worth paying him like a top-10 kicker when he's arguably only a slight upgrade over replacement level. For McLendon, it will depend on whether the team feels the younger and cheaper Deon Simon can handle the nose tackle role. As for Smith, is there room to develop him with all their other young receiving prospects?