Kellen Clemens, QB – 3rd string QB lost the job to Mark Sanchez two years ago and was surpassed in the pecking order by ancient Mark Brunell last year. Clemens can’t start anywhere else … and it seems unlikely he could even contend for another starting job.
Tony Richardson, FB – The 39-year-old, 16-year pro probably retires. His heir apparent, rookie John Connor (The Terminator), was inactive against the Patriots and Steelers.
Santonio Holmes, WR – Gotta keep him. Absolutely need to keep him. Game-breaking WR. Probably a Top 10 WR in the league. Will get a large increase on the $705k he made in 2010. Has to be the top priority.
Braylon Edwards, WR – Looks like he could be the odd man out. Could the Jets move Jerricho Cotchery to the No. 2 WR spot, and then draft a WR in the mid-late rounds? The other concern with Edwards is that if you give him a big deal, does he start to get lazy and party in NYC? He seems to like the Jets – or he was just saying all the right things – so maybe he stays in NY for a little less money than normal.
Brad Smith, WR/KR – The best special teamer the Jets have. But … remember what happened to Leon Washington? Yes, he was hurt, but the takeaway was that KR is a position that can easily be replaced. Heck, Antonio Cromartie looked good doing it in the postseason. What about Joe McKnight? What about Kyle Wilson? I think you have to keep Smith, who has value at multiple positions.
Shaun Ellis, DE – The 33-year-old, 11-year vet had a fantastic game against the Patriots, but he was a non-factor for the majority of the season. He made $4.6 million this past season. The guess here is that if he wants to remain on the team, he’ll have to take a significant pay cut. Who else is going to pay him top dollar?
David Harris, LB – The inside linebacker is one of the team’s best defenders, and very underrated. He’ll command top dollar on the open market, and the problem is that if you pay him big bucks to keep him, you probably lose out on keeping two other guys (for instance, Edwards and Cromartie). But how difficult is it to replace a middle linebacker? The Jets’ front seven was not nearly as good as it was in 2009. Losing Harris would be a further setback. Break the bank to keep him. No. 2 priority after Holmes.
Antonio Cromartie, CB – Playing for a contract, he was pivotal in the postseason wins over the Colts and Patriots. He didn’t play well at Pittsburgh. The big concern, obviously, is giving this guy a multi-year deal and then having him screw-up off the field or start to get lazy on the field. Since Kyle Wilson doesn’t appear ready to be a No. 2 corner, you absolutely must bring Cromartie back. I’d rank him as the 3rd most important FA to get signed.
Drew Coleman, CB – Much better season in 2011 than 2010. Was he improved because he was playing for a contract? He’s still, at best, a nickle CB. He’s not a No. 2. Before you make a decision, ask yourself – can Kyle Wilson (who had a rough rookie year) slide in seamlessly and take over for him? Other teams have a major CB need – and will want him to be their No.2 – so Coleman will probably get a nice deal and I don’t think he’ll return to NY.