19.4 Million Over The Cap and Only 10 Returning Starters
Time to focus on recent reports and the facts. These are two key things that have been reported by the beat writers of the Jets.
Let's start with 19.4 million over the cap. By cutting three backups(Tebow,Jason Smith and Eric Smith) and two starters(Calvin Pace and Bart Scott). The Jets will be 12 million dollars under the cap.
You gotta wonder if John Idzik will be able to restructure the existing deals of any of the Jets players who are under contract for the 2013 season. Extending the deals of players who should be Jets lifers could be a key in freeing up more cap space.
Next up are the "10 returning starters". This is the reported number by members of the media. Let's list the Jets projected starting lineup if they choose to not re-sign any of their own free agents unrestricted and restricted.
When you look at this tentative group. You see some natural progressions to the starting lineup. On offense, Jeremy Kerley is technically a starting player whether he is listed as one or not. The fullback position is in better hands than one would think. Josh Baker was coming on strong before being hurt and he and Konrad Reuland are hybrid FB/TE's. On defense, Coples seems primed to take over Mike Devito's spot at DE. Whether or not, ILB Demario Davis is ready for the take over next to Harris remains to be seen but it seems like a natural progression.
Let's take a look at the 2012 Jets Starting Players who are not under contract for the 2013 season.
OLB-Calvin Pace(Future Cap Casualty)
ILB-Bart Scott(Future Cap Casualty)
Barring something unforseen. Austin Howard will be back at RT. Many questions remain at the RB position. It will be interesting to see what type of market exists for Shonn Greene. He would seem to be an ideal tandem back rather than a full time workhorse. Not sure if he fits the new offense anyway. Lex Hilliard is a borderline starter with marginal value. I would love to see Braylon return and team with Kerley, Holmes and Hill. That's a stronger group than what the Jets had in 2012.
The two biggest question areas on the Jets offense are tight end and offensive guard. Should Dustin Keller return? There will be a market for him. No doubt about it. I could see him landing in St. Louis but he should have plenty of suitors. Not on this list is Jeff Cumberland, who is a restricted free agent and could be back as a starter. Both starting guards are free agents and the replacements are scary. The front office has tried desperately to make something out of Vlad Ducasse and there is really no other option at the other guard spot.
On defense, Mike Devito is a quality veteran role player but won't be worth what he will be overpaid by a team like Buffalo. Time for new blood at 3 linebacker spots for the Jets. Pace and Thomas have seen better days and the run is over. Rex could push for a Bart Scott return at a reduced rate but it may be time to say goodbye to him as well. The Jets have the best corner trio in the sport but much like the guard position on offense, They have a lot of uncertainty at the safety position. Consider Laron Landry as good as gone. Yeremiah Bell has very little left in the gas tank and may not return despite a solid 2012 campaign. Jets are raw and extremely young at safety.
Last and certainly least in the minds of some is the kicker spot. Nick Folk wasn't half bad when his kicks weren't being blocked at the line of scrimmage. He could be back to compete with another kicker.
John Idzik has his work cut out for him. That's for sure. This is going to be an interesting offseason. I credit John Idzik for taking on what is going to be a difficult job and he left a comfortable job to work with a lot of people he is not familiar with.