The New York Jets are entering the 2013 free agency period with several pressing needs on both sides of the ball. The most obvious need on their current roster is at wide receiver and it should be their top priority this off-season. However, the Jets must also turn attention to their secondary after handing their lead corner, Antonio Cromartie, his release papers.
The release of Cromartie saved the Jets an extra $9.5 million in cap space as his cap number was set to hit $14.9 million for the 2014 season. By removing Cromartie and Santonio Holmes from the books the Jets give themselves an extra $18.75 million in breathing room and could potentially use it in free agency.
The Jets have begun their search for a replacement for Cromartie. Rich Cimini of ESPNnewyork.com states that New York is interested in Alterraun Verner, who came into the spot light in 2013. Verner collected 49 tackles, 5 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles last season. If he were to become a Jet, he would immediately be the top cornerback of the team. Next to Aqib Talib he is widely regarded as one of the best corners in the open market this offseason.
Verner will be an expensive commodity, but the jets can clearly afford him. Letting go of two huge contracts this week gave the Jets $42 million in cap space. But just because the Jets have the money to spend it doesn’t mean that Verner or Talib are surefire future Jets, especially after ridding themselves of two big contracts. I don’t expect John Idzik to nickel and dime his way through free agency but he might just not jump at the chance to spend $10 million on an annual contract either.
One reason the Jets might just stay dormant during free agency negotiations is because of their ideal long-term reloading process, which is draft centered. The jets will not be Super Bowl contenders outright because of the signings of players like Verner, although on paper they would be more competitive. The jets must address their void filled secondary regardless though.
Less than a year ago the jets featured one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL with Revis and Cromartie. Cromarties production fell due to a nagging injury that prevented him for going full speed last season. His lingering hip injury ultimately allowed opposing receivers to burn him down the field. Cromartie relayed heavily on his speed in coverage and less on his technique. The lack of speed he once had made him expendable, especially at this point in his career.
After realizing Cromartie, the Jets are left with Dee Millner and Kyle Wilson as the best duo on the depth chart. Not many choices for them here. The jets can easily go to the draft to fill the cornerback void but they also have the money to go after high caliber players like Verner and Talib. The only thing is that Idzik doesn’t appear the type to dish out large contracts and when the market was set by Vontae Davis’ $10 million a year signing, the market quieted down a bit. This realization could leave the Jets with an interesting situation come the draft, considering that playmakers on offense is still a top priority.