The New York Jets have 11 players eligible for unrestricted free agency on March 9. It's not a star-studded group. In fact, they combined for only 37 starts last season. Nevertheless, the Jets are trying to re-sign a handful of them.
How I'd rank them in order of importance:
1. LT Ben Ijalana: The Jets are interested in re-signing Ijalana, who replaced the departed Ryan Clady midway through last season. Ijalana (13 starts) made only $840,000 last season on a one-year contract; it'll cost the Jets more this time because he will draw interest from other teams. The Jets have to come out of free agency with a left tackle because they don't have one on the roster.
2. OLB Josh Martin: He was a bright spot on an otherwise moribund special-teams unit. Martin led the unit in tackles, drawing praise from a certain hoodie-wearing coach in New England. The Jets are trying to get a deal done. Martin may opt to test the market because he wants an opportunity to play linebacker.
3. OLB Mike Catapano: There's interest in re-signing the versatile Catapano (four starts), who can play multiple spots in the front seven and special teams.
4. LS Tanner Purdum: Has there been a more consistent player than Purdum over the past few years? Thing is, he's 32 years old and coming off a two-year deal that averaged $905,000 per year. The Jets may try to pinch pennies. They recently signed two unproven long-snappers, an indication they may let Purdum test the market.
5. OLB Bruce Carter: The former starter is a solid depth player, and depth at inside linebacker could be an issue. Nevertheless, there's no urgency to get something done. He's looking at a veterans-minimum contract.
6. QB Geno Smith: If the Jets strike out in the free-agent market, they could try to re-sign Smith on a one-year, prove-it deal, assuming his surgically repaired knee checks out. It's not the ideal situation. The Jets need a fresh start and so does Smith, who probably wants a change of scenery.
7. LT Ryan Clady: The Jets didn't exercise their option, making him a free agent. He could be a post-draft fallback option if they can't secure a replacement.
8. S Antonio Allen: He hasn't found a niche on defense, only special teams. Allen could be a post-draft possibility.
9. TE Kellen Davis: If the Jets switch to a West Coast offense, the profile for tight ends will change. The emphasis will be on pass-catching, not blocking, Davis' forte. His return is unlikely.
10. OLB Corey Lemonier: He had a cup of coffee last season, arriving in time for Week 17. Hey, the Jets are 1-0 with Lemonier.
11. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: It was fun for a year. The second year, not so much. It's probably best for both sides to move on.
In addition, the Jets will have three restricted free agents:
1. C Wes Johnson: He started eight games for the injured Nick Mangold, who could become a cap casualty. To retain Johnson with the low-level tender, it'll cost at least $1.67 million (last year's amount), giving the Jets the right of first refusal. Look for that to happen.
2. CB Marcus Williams: He was exposed a bit last year after a promising 2015, but he's worth keeping around as a fourth corner. He could get the low tender.
3. TE Brandon Bostick: The low tender probably is too steep, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he re-ups on a lesser deal before free agency.