- Kevin Lidlow
Free Agency Could Deplete Jets Backfield
We are just a couple days away from free agency, I will take a look at the running back position for the Jets and see what we can expect to see from GM Mike Maccagnan in his second year tenure. Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Steven Ridley will be pending free agents this year and if you’re a jets fan you have to wonder, will they re-sign Ivory and Powell back for a 2016 season? They are showing interest in signing the two back, but it doesn't seem realistic.
Since being traded to the Jets in 2013, Ivory has rushed for 2,724 yards, which is 10th in the league. He's third in the league in yards after contact per rush (2.14), trailing only LeGarrette Blount (2.27) and Marshawn Lynch (2.20). Obviously, it would make perfect sense for them to sign him back because he has been a workhorse for this team. Towards the end of the season, we saw Powell step up for the team in the last couple weeks. We saw that he became a good receiving weapon for Fitzpatrick and both Ivory and Powell have really complimented each other.
The Jets haven't poured big money into a running back since Thomas Jones (2007-09), and since Ivory is coming off a career year in which he rushed for an AFC-high 1,070 yards, he will be seeking a free agent score at the age 28. Unfortunately, the running back market has dropped in recent years, so he will have to settle for around $4 million per year, with a total guarantee of at least $7 million. The numbers aren't crazy, but you think the Jets probably won't want to spend a dole amount of money for a running back who has maybe one or two years left.
Looking at the big picture, Todd Bowles likes to go three deep at running back, which means they could rebuild from the ground floor. Zac Stacy who is coming off a season-ending leg injury, can't be a sure thing for the Jets. So they will have to either re-sign both backs or find players like them to compliment each other. Also watch out for the Buffalo Bills to make a move if one of them doesn't get re-signed.
Free agent market watch: Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, Alfred Morris, Matt Forte, Ronnie Hillman, Chris Johnson, James Starks, Reggie Bush and LeGarrette Blount. Also backs that could become available: Arian Foster, DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore
All these backs can be a perfect fit, but Martin would be too expensive. Alfred Morris would be a fallback option for the Jets. He is a rugged back that likes to run downhill just like Ivory, but he is a poor receiver. Matt Forte could be the LaDanian Tomlinson of 2010, at the age of 30 he is a great receiving back and can run downhill. However, father time has caught up to him and so have the injuries, so he would be a risk for the jets.