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  • John Hazelet

Looking Ahead to 2016

In the wake of the awful season ending loss to Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills, I figured it’s never too soon to start thinking of next season. The norm in the NFL these days is for a team to turn over a large portion of their roster every season and the Jets will be no exception.

By my count, the Jets will have 23 free agents heading into the off season, 20 unrestricted and 3 restricted. I have grouped what I feel are the main players into 3 groups A, B and C. The “A” group will include Mo Wilkerson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Ivory, Damon Harrison. The “B” group will include Bilal Powell, Calvin Pace, Demario Davis, Willie Colon and Stevan Ridley. The “C” Group is Leger Douzable, Darrin Walls, Chris Owusu, Kembrell Thompkins.

Group A:

Wilkerson: Almost a guarantee that he will be franchised. The question will be, will the Jets try and luck him up long term, franchise and trade him or simply let him play next season under the franchise salary. I can make an argument for any of the three options. My gut says they will at least look to trade him if the right package is available. The simple fact is you cannot pay all of our D-Lineman without leaving other positions on the team short-handed.

Fitzpatrick: I like Fitz and I think he has earned a contract. I would not however over pay him. I am thinking somewhere around 2-3years at 5-6million per + incentives would be my comfort zone. If the Jets see Bryce Petty as the future, Fitz is a perfect hold the fort guy for a year or two giving Petty time to develop.

Ivory: This one is a total head scratcher for me. If you asked me 3-4 weeks ago, I would have said he is a no brainer to come back but given his play down the stretch I am not so sure. Granted, he rushed for 1,000 yards and was a huge part in the Jets success this year. My fear is his durability and his play in big games. Think about our losses this year and compare them with Ivory’s play. Look specifically at his stats vs the Pats and Bills and tell me if you are comfortable with him as a feature back. I can tell you that I am not...

Harrison: Snacks has been a bit of an unsung hero on this team. I would love to have him back but I think some team will blow him away with a big offer. I feel he is one of the top 5 DT’s in football.

Group B:

Powell: The way he played down the stretch you can make the argument he should be in my A group. Powell was sorely missed in today’s disaster and I think he would be missed if he wasn’t here next year. The Jets gave him a 1 year “prove it” contract last year and I feel Powell has shown his value. I don’t think he is an RB1 but I think he is an excellent complement. I hope the Jets find a way to bring him back.

Pace: I thought he was a nice fit in the defense this year. I would not go out of my way to bring him back simply for the fact I want to get younger at that position. He has been a very good Jet over his years.

Davis: Davis struggled this year and actually lost some time to Erin Henderson. His main struggle was covering RB’s on pass plays out of the backfield. I do not see the Jets bringing him back.

Colon: Injured most of the year I don’t think the O-Line had a major drop off when Colon got hurt. I actually think Winters had a good showing in his absence (Dallas game excluded). I think the Jets would look to get better and younger on the line. If Colon is back, it will be in a back-up veteran minimum role.

Ridley: Missing half the year recovering from injury did Ridley no favors. Nor did the emergence of Powell in the role I feel the Jets intended to use Ridley. Coming back may be a long shot but I wouldn’t rule it out completely. I think there is more football in Ridley, I am just not confident it’s with the Jets.

Group C:

Douzable: I think he is very under-rated and I like his ability. Not a flashy player but one of the unsung guys. I would like to see the Jets bring him back especially if Snacks and/or Wilkerson are not.

Walls: Similar to Douzable, I think Walls is a nice compliment/unsung guy. His role this season was diminished by bringing in Revis, Cromartie and Skrine but I think it’s the right role for him. I don’t see Walls as a starter but I do think he is solid. Chances are he will not be back.

Owusu: Slowed by a season ending injury, I don’t think we got to see all of what Owusu can do. His speed and athletic ability are off the charts but I question his ability to stay on the field. He is a guy I will root for the Jets to give another chance to because I love his athleticism.

Thompkins: The book on Thompkins is that he has ability but his hands are questionable. I think we saw the epitome of that in the Bills game. Thompkins had 2 drops... 1 may have been on Fitz or the wind and the other would have won the game in exciting fashion late in the 4th. He is a long shot to return for sure.

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