Projected Lineups: New York Jets
It was just three seasons ago that the Jets had gone to back to back AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez under center but, as big an achievement as that was, it feels like it was a long time ago, with the last few season filled with disappointment for Jets fans.
They head into 2014 after a solid end of the season from quarterback Geno Smith. That will give them hope that, if they can get the rest of the roster right, they’ll be able to compete in the AFC. That’s easier said than done, however, and their roster, while talented in some places, has plenty of areas of concern.
– Player markers are colored per class on a six-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– Wide receiver is a massive area of need for the Jets, with Santonio Holmes having been a big disappointment in recent years. Jeremy Kerley is a solid receiver, and a good option out of the slot, but Stephen Hill has yet to show anything to make anyone believe he can fulfill his potential.
– With Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow set to become a free agents, it leaves largely untested Zach Sudfeld as the starting tight end as things stand. With just 146 snaps last year it’s hard to judge, but he certainly didn’t do anything to make you confident that he can be a big contributor.
– The same can be said for the right side of the offensive line, though they have reportedly already reached out to right tackle Austin Howard with a view to bringing him back. That still leaves them short a right guard and, while Willie Colon was not a world beater, he certainly wasn’t terrible either, so they may look to bring him back too.
-You’d be hard pressed to find a better three-man front in football. Damon Harrison is very good against the run at nose tackle, while Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson are both not far away from being in that elite bracket at defensive end.
– Linebacker is another area of need, with three projected starters listed as below average. Neither Coples or Garrett McIntyre are going to put much fear into opposing offensive tackles as pass rushers at this stage in their careers.
2014 Cap Situation
With $20 million in projected cap space, the Jets will be confident that they can make the necessary moves to compete in 2013. It’s enough to allow then to re-sign their own free agents, sign their draft picks and attack the free agent market if they see fit.
In releasing Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes the Jets would free up some significant extra cap room. While their cuts would result in some dead money, they would save roughly $16.6 million by letting both of them go. David Harris would free up an additional $5 million, but he is the best of a bad bunch at linebacker so they might not be so willing to send him off. Cutting Antonio Cromartie would free up $9.5 million but, as the team’s best defensive back, this seems like a move that would be counterproductive.
Opportunities from the Roster
Mike Goodson forced three missed tackles from seven carries in limited duty last year, after forcing eight from 35 during his season in Oakland. Provided he can get on the field and stay out of trouble for the Jets in 2014, he could add some excitement to an offense that badly needs it. Leger Douzable was a solid part of the defensive line rotation last year and, while it was only preseason, had a monster performance against the New York Giants in August. Many will point to the fact that Smith was our second-worst graded quarterback last year, but his final four games of the year were his best, and there will be confidence that he can step up in 2014 and beyond.
Projected lineups by team:
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