With free agency set to begin March 10, we'll examine the New York Jets' top free agents over the next few days:
Player: Willie Colon
Position: Right guard
Age: Turns 32 in April
Previous contract: Made $2 million on his second consecutive one-year contract.
2014 stats: Colon accomplished his goal, playing an entire season with no time lost to injuries. He started 16 games and participated in 99 percent of the offensive snaps. He didn't receive a favorable rating from Pro Football Focus, which ranked him 66th out of 78 qualifying guards. The Jets averaged 3.77 yards per carry (18th) when rushing behind the right guard, according to NFL stats. Colon's biggest problem was penalties -- a total of 14, tops among guards. He has struggled with penalties throughout his career.
The case to keep him: Colon is the most experienced guard on the roster, and it's not even close for second. With third-year guards Oday Aboushi and Brian Winters (returning from knee surgery), the case could be made to re-sign Colon, a stabilizing influence. He's one of the most respected players in the locker room and he sets a tone with his fiery, aggressive play.
The case to let him go: He's a hold-the-fort guy, and he held the fort for two years -- a good run. It's hard to quantify a lineman's performance from a statistical standpoint. but Colon's run-blocking slipped in 2014, according to PFF. He still has ability, but the Jets might prefer to get younger at the position. In addition to Aboushi and Winters, they have Dakota Dozier waiting in the wings. Because of contract status and age, Colon is the most replaceable starter on the offensive line.
Crystal ball: There are indications the Jets will seek to upgrade at guard in free agency. If they add a guard, it means Colon's days in New York are over. He could be a fallback option if nothing pans out. Colon would be ideal for a contending team that needs a savvy guard to serve as a "bridge" player. At this point in his career, he's probably looking at another one-year contract.