According to Brian Costello of the NY Post the Jets have placed an original first-round tender on OLB Aaron Maybin while renouncing the rights to TE Matthew Mulligan (if you listen closely you can literally hear Jets fans cheering wildly), DB Marquice Cole and OLB Jamaal Westerman. None of these moves are particularly surprising, but these moves combined with the extensions of Sanchez and Pouha mark what will undoubtably be a busy start to free agency for Mike Tannenbaum.
The Jets picked up Maybin from the trash heap of the Bills before last season as he was considered a bust during his time in Buffalo, but playing for a new team, new coach and a new scheme helped breath life back into his career as he flashed some of that first-round talent at times last year (six sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 games last year). With last season and an entire training camp under his belt the Jets will be hoping Maybin can use that great speed of his to build upon last year’s performance and give the Jets that dynamic pass-rushing ability they so sorely need.
As for the others it appears their time here is done. Westerman never quite lived up to the potential the Jets saw in him, even if he did step up decently in Bryan Thomas’ absence last season. It obviously wasn’t enough to keep the team’s interest and with their linebacker core being as unstable as it is, this is a clear sign that the team will be focused and determined to upgrade the position whether through free agency or the draft.
Cole has been an exceptional gunner on special teams, but with the Jets signing DB Ellis Lankster to a future deal at the end of last season you can expect to see him take over Cole’s role (he did quite well in said role towards the end of last season) and maybe even creep up the depth chart for corners.
The release of Mulligan is about as surprising as the fact that the sky is still blue, it’s hard to remember one player of such little significance causing a fan base so much grief as Mulligan. Whether it was false starts, holding penalties or dropped passes it seemed like every time he was on the field he was making a mistake, for this he would pay and honestly that was the only silver lining for many fans that continually watched him make mistake after mistake. With Mulligan gone the Jets have Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland as their only two tight ends and neither of them can block, so expect the Jets to address this problem through free agency by possibly signing someone like Joel Dreessen or Anthony Fasano to help block to open up holes in the running game, protect Sanchez and open up Keller and Cumberland to worry about making plays through the air.
As is the case every year Tannenbaum has started to move some money around in hopes of being able to sign the free agents they feel they need to in order to get this team back to where they want and with other teams now starting to release quality players of their own to get themselves in better financial situation Tannenbaum will look to see if he can take advantage of this like he did last year with the Maybin signing. Players such as Eric Winston (right tackle released yesterday by Texans) and Kamerion Wimbley (reportedly set to be released by Raiders today) there will be some big names Tannenbaum will most likely take a run at, but with many teams having an absurd amount of cap room to work with the Jets will likely lose out on any major bidding wars.
Still with the right mix of free agent gems and draft pick perfection the Jets are in a good place to build on the foundation they already have and get them back to competing for a trip to the Super Bowl. The areas that need to be upgraded are obvious, safety, OLB, RT, WR, blocking TE, RB, but which options to go with are not necessarily so obvious. The Jets will reportedly take a look at LaRon Landry to fill one of the safety vacancies, but he is poor in coverage and an injury waiting to happen, Reggie Nelson and or Reggie Smith would make much better options.
It’s hardly a secret that right tackle is the teams biggest weak spot right now and Eric Winston would immediately shore up that problem, but quality OL are hard to come by and he will have plenty of other suitors lined up to acquire his services, with some of those teams having Monopoly money to work with, making Tannenbaum’s job that much harder.
There are many different choices to be made. Some moves Jets fans will be sure to love and others they’ll be sure to hate. Either way at 4:00 p.m. today the fun begins, lets see what Tannenbaum can do this time around.