Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa signed a multi-year extension with the team on Friday. Enunwa talked about his decision in the locker room.
Andy Vasquez, Staff Writer, @andy_vasquez
The Jets know they must take a major leap forward in 2019. And part of general manager Mike Maccagnan’s plan is to upgrade the roster by being very active during free agency where the Jets are slated to have more than $100 million to spend.
But before they explore the open market, the Jets are going to have to figure out which players from last year’s roster they want to keep. And there’s a lot of figuring out to do.
There are 23 players set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason – and not one of them is a lock to stay.
So who might stick around and who might be on their way out the door? Here’s a first look at the Jets’ unrestricted free agents.
Morris Claiborne: He’s been the team’s best cornerback for the last two seasons, and he’s solved the injury problem that plagued him in Dallas and allowed the Jets to keep him on two one-year deals. Now that he’s played in 30 of the last 32 games, he could get a multi-year offer from outside the building. But at 29, the price for Claiborne, who made $7 million last year, shouldn’t be unreasonable. The Jets should keep him around.
Jason Myers: Maccagnan uncovered a gem when he signed Myers late in last year’s training camp. Myers was one of the best kickers in the NFL in 2018 and became the Jet to kick in a Pro Bowl. Myers, who made $705,000 last year, is due for a major pay day. Top kickers in the league are making around $4 million per year and last year the Bears signed Cody Parkey to a four-year, $15 million deal with $9 million guaranteed (that didn’t work out so well). Is one breakthrough season worth that much? We’ll soon find out.
Darryl Roberts: This backup cornerback, quietly had a very solid season. He played in all 16 games and showcased his versatility by playing well as the starting safety after Marcus Maye was lost for the season. The Jets need depth in their defensive backfield and the 28-year-old is young enough to likely command a multi-season deal. He’ll get a significant raise from the $705,000 last year, but Roberts is worth keeping around.
Andre Roberts: He was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing season. Roberts was one of the best kick/punt returners in the league and made the Pro Bowl. The Jets will have to pay more than the $1 million he earned this season. But he’s 31 and has little value as a receiver, so don’t expect him to get an unreasonable offer from outside the building.
Could go either way
Henry Anderson: The defensive lineman was unexpectedly the Jets’ best pass rusher in 2018, racking up a career-best seven sacks and playing some of his best football late in the season. It’s a perfect recipe for a big raise from the $1.9 million the 27-year-old Anderson made in 2018. But he may not be worth it for the Jets, who will likely switch to a 4-3 defense. Anderson has always been regarded as more effective in a 3-4 defense.
Jermaine Kearse: After the best statistical season of his career in 2017, the receiver followed it up with a dud in 2018 — a nightmare in a contract year. But it was hardly all his fault. Defenses could key in on Kearse, because of the lack of other weapons on the field. And the Jets uncreative playcalling did him no favors. At 29, Kearse can still be a very good No. 3 receiver, a valuable presence in the locker room and, since he’ll probably make less than the $5 million he made last year, a good value.
Brandon Copeland: There were no expectations when the Jets signed Copeland last March. But injuries opened the door and Copeland capitalized, earning a starting outside linebacker job. The Jets should find a way to keep Copeland, who made $1.5 million last year, and had five sacks. His knack for getting to the quarterback from the outside could work well in a 4-3 defense.
Josh McCown: He turns 40 this summer and could retire. But if McCown wants to come back the Jets have a tough choice. He’s a wonderful locker room influence on Darnold, but if they need him to play is McCown still a viable backup? He struggled mightily filling in for Darnold last year.
Time to move on?
Buster Skrine: Skrine had some rocky times during his four-year run with the Jets — he made $6 million last year — but in the end he was a solid cornerback for them. But it’s hard to imagine the Jets giving the 30-year-old Skrine another contract with younger, more potential-laden options available.
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James Carpenter: He certainly turned out to be a good signing for the Jets in 2015, playing in 58 consecutive games before missing the end of the season with a shoulder injury. He’s a captain and highly regarded, but there’s evidence that he’s in a decline. The Jets will likely look for a younger option in free agency or the draft.
Bilal Powell: Powell has been a key part of the offense since the Jets drafted him in 2011. But he’s 30, coming off of neck surgery and has never ascended to the role of go-to running back in his eight seasons. With the Jets likely to pursue a big-name running back in free agency, and Eli McGuire looking like a strong backup, Powell’s run with the Jets is likely over.
Steve McLendon: He’s still playing well in the middle of the defense, and he’s a leader in the locker room. He could be valuable to the Jets next season. But if the 33-year-old, who made $3.38 million last season, is looking for another multi-year deal, it’s time to move on.
The rest of the free agents
The Jets have 11 other players who will be unrestricted free agents this offseason: OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, G Dakota Dozier, C Jonotthan Harrison, LB Neville Hewitt, OT Ben Ijalana, OLB Emmanuel Lamur, OLB Josh Martin, WR Rishard Matthews, S Rontez Miles, RT Brent Qvale and TE Neal Sterling.