As the official start to the NFL offseason approaches, most teams are deep into the process of figuring out how to improve their rosters. Some teams have an easier job than others because of less obvious holes.
The New York Jets don’t seem to be one of those teams. The Jets, as many other 6-10 teams, might actually have an easier time going into their planning for the offseason by figuring out what positions don’t need an upgrade.
The obvious place to start this process is cornerback—with or without Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie will either serve as an above average No. 1 corner or one of the league’s best No. 2s. 2010 first-round pick Kyle Wilson has shown enough improvement to be a competent second corner or an above average nickelback.
Cornerback will be the least of the Jets’ worries in the offseason regardless of whether Revis ends up getting traded, comes back less than 100 percent or comes back as the Revis everyone is accustomed to seeing.
Moving to the middle of the defensive field, David Harris is the only starting linebacker that shouldn’t be considered in need of an upgrade. Even though all of the starting linebackers from last season seem to be overvalued, Harris has been the best linebacker and is the closest to matching his play on the field to the value of his contract. The cuts of Bart Scott and Calvin Pace are a good start to upgrade around Harris.
On the defensive line, Muhammed Wilkerson is a star in the making and the biggest bright spot on the starting front that features some question marks. Both other spots could technically be upgraded, although it may not be plausible monetarily. Nose tackle Sione Pouha was given a three year/$15 million dollar deal before the 2012 season and immediately saw his numbers regress, even with adjusting his numbers for a full 16 game season.
On the other side of the trenches, the Jets are set for at least three of the five offensive line spots. The line was surprisingly a strength for the Jets last season and won’t need major work done in the offseason. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are at the top level of their positions. Tackle Austin Howard played surprisingly well after former starter Wayne Hunter was traded to the St. Louis Rams in a damaged goods for damaged goods trade for tackle Jason Smith. Howard is a restricted free agent, but should be able to be brought back.
Guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson will be unrestricted free agents, but bringing one or both back at a decent price would make sense as there is no obvious on-field reason to part with either.
That same can’t be said about the other positions on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver is weak with or without Santonio Holmes. Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller are both free agents and only Keller should be considered to be brought back.
After this exercise, we can determine the only positions the Jets don’t need to upgrade are cornerback, the offensive line, David Harris and Muhammed Wilkerson. That leaves a lot of room for improvement, though of course, not all of the remaining positions are going to be upgraded.
The Jets have plenty of possible avenues to take to rebuild the team in the offseason, though it remains to be seen which one they will actually take.
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