NFL free agency begins next week. Will the Jets release more players in an effort clear some more room? Will they be as active as they were a year ago? Who needs to get restructured contracts? What will happen with Ryan Fitzpatrick? As we already looked at highly unlikely outcomes and uncertain outcomes, we now look at some highly likely outcomes that the Jets face.
Signing Ryan Fitzpatrick
It is no secret the Jets and Fitzpatrick will get a deal done. The only thing left undetermined is the structure of the deal. Dom Cosentino suggests that the Eagles deal with Sam Bradford might be a template for Fitzpatrick.
I'd look for something aligned with Nick Foles' August 2015 contract with the Rams. Expect the Jets to create a deal which pays Fitzpatrick close to $12 million in 2016 and might guarantee as much as $15 million, but which includes an opt-out clause for Fitzpatrick if he hits certain playing incentives, likely close to what he accomplished in 2015.
Avoiding free agent running backs
Todd Bowles has said he wants to get younger and faster. While there are some interesting veteran runners who might come cheap, the draft could be the Jets primary way to get better at running back. One of the best ways is to use the draft to secure such a player who can contribute from Week 1 of the 2016 season.
Assuming the team drafts one in the second through fourth round sweet spot for running backs, such a plan would cost the team a minimal amount of cap space and draft equity. Re-signing Bilal Powell is an indication to me that the Jets will focus on the draft.
Restructure D'Brickashaw Ferguson's contract
The Jets have to do something about Ferguson's millstone of a contract. He was always a competent player and in his prime one of the best at his position, but he's always struggled when the left guard wasn't also playing well, and it has become more apparent more in the past two years than ever.
Now, Ferguson's contract is untenable and both sides need to find a way create cap space so that the team has more flexibility to find a player or two to help the line in free agency.
Clear up some more cap space
The Jets scraped Antonio Cromartie off their books already, but there is still housecleaning to do in the form of saving $3.2 million between two players with almost no role. Jeremy Kerley saw more than 50 percent of the snaps in only two games last year, while Jeff Cumberland's high only reached 45 percent of the snaps once all last season. The irony for Kerley is that the Jets played four receiver sets extensively all season and yet he only saw significant playing time due to injuries of Chris Owusu, Devin Smith or Quincy Enunwa.