By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
With the 2012 season (mercifully) over for the New York Jets, it is time to start identifying the holes on the roster as the team gets ready for free agency.
Here are the biggest needs for the Jets, in order descending order from biggest to smallest.
Quarterback: No matter what the Jets do from here on out, they won’t get anywhere until they sort out the QB situation. Sanchez will be nearly impossible to move, as cutting or trading him will cost the team $17 million against the cap. Sanchez will probably be on the 2013 roster, but there is no way the team can have him as the unquestioned starter. They must draft or sign another quarterback in the offseason.
Outside Linebacker: This has been a lingering hole for several years now. Quinton Coples led the team with a pedestrian 5.5 sacks as a part-time player. Adding a speed rusher will vault this defense to the “elite” category. Throw in the fact that Bryan Thomas is a free agent and Calvin Pace is a likely cap casualty, and the Jets will have to add another player at this position.
Wide Receiver: Even with Santonio Holmes coming back, there needs to be added depth in case of injury. Clyde Gates and Chaz Schilens simply are not serviceable starters, at least for the long term.
Running Back: Shonn Greene is a free agent, and a run-first team was likely looking for an upgrade anyway.
Offensive Guard: Both Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore are free agents, and they likely will only pay one. Which one? Depends on the GM’s preference between a young player with more gas in the tank or the proven veteran.
Tight End: Dustin Keller is the team’s top free agent, and will cost a lot to retain. Jeff Cumberland is a decent backup, but he is not much of a blocker and does not separate like most starters can.
Offensive Tackle: This spot can easily be filled by re-signing Austin Howard, who ranks 30th in PFF’s ranking among offensive tackles.
Safety: LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are free agents, but the team does have Josh Bush and Antonio Allen waiting in the wings.