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With one month to go until the NFL free-agent signing period opens on March 9, the Jets have some work to do. They have to make several cuts and restructure several contracts just to get under the 2017 salary cap, which figures to be somewhere around $168 million.
How active they'll be in free agency depends on how much cap room they're able to clear. It also depends on how much -- if anything -- they devote to finding a starting quarterback on the free-agent market.
So stay tuned for more on that. For now, though, here is the first installment of SNY's weekly look at five free agents the Jets might -- and probably should -- consider if they have money to spend and if the price is right:
QB Mike Glennon (Bucs) - The free-agent market for quarterbacks isn't great and, thanks to Brock Osweiler's deal with Houston last offseason (four years, $72 million, $37 million guaranteed) it's likely to be overpriced. The 27-year-old Glennon might be the best of the bunch, though. A former third-round pick and former starter in Tampa, he's got a strong arm and was decent in his season-and-a-half at the Bucs' helm. Jets head coach Todd Bowles loves his potential, according to a team source, and GM Mike Maccagnan inquired about trading for him two years ago before the Jets got Ryan Fitzpatrick. If there's a bidding war, the Jets might not have enough cap room. But if they do clear enough room to go the free agent route this is the most likely quarterback they'll pursue.
CB Stephon Gilmore (Bills) - If the Jets don't use all of their cap room on a QB, they might use it at this position to begin to shore up a secondary that was a mess last season and to replace Darrelle Revis, who will likely either be released or moved to safety next season. The 26-year-old Gilmore is the best corner on the market, coming off his first Pro Bowl and a five-interception season. The market for top corners is expensive -- just ask the Giants, who signed Janoris Jenkins to a five-year, $62.5 million deal (with $28.8 million guaranteed) last March. It sounds like the Bills want him back, but Gilmore has sent signals that he intends to look around, explore his options and see what his value is around the league.
TE Martellus Bennett (Patriots) - Let's assume that John Morton, the Jets' new offensive coordinator, plans to run an offense that includes tight ends. If that's the case, the Jets need one. Bennett is a good blocker and receiver and he might be affordable because he'll be 30 years old in early-March and likely won't command a long-term deal -- certainly nothing like the four-year, $20 million deal he got in 2013 when the Bears stole him from the Giants. He's just two years removed from a 90-catch season, and last year he caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns even though he spent about half the season as the second tight end behind Rob Gronkowski in New England. He also loves the New York spotlight and just won a Super Bowl, so maybe he wouldn't mind coming back to be part of a (hopefully) short-term rebuilding job.
LB Chandler Jones (Cardinals) - One big reason for the demise of the Jets' defense this past season was their struggles in the pass rush. They also didn't really have the right personnel for their 3-4 scheme, as evidenced by how often they lined Sheldon Richardson up like a linebacker. The solution to that, of course, would be to add an actual pass-rushing, 3-4 linebacker, and Jones is one of the best available (assuming the Cards let him hit free agency). He's had 23 ½ sacks in his last three seasons and the idea of him coming off the edge with Mo Wilkerson or Leonard Williams in front of him is frightening. His presence also could free up the Jets to trade Richardson, who might bring a couple of decent draft picks in return.
WR Michael Floyd (Patriots) - If the Jets decide to move on from Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, they have a talented trio of young receivers, but do any of them have breakout, No. 1 receiver potential? It's hard to say. Floyd, once the 13th overall pick in in the 2012 draft, has that potential and is a big target (6-2, 220) on the outside. Of course, he's never lived up to that potential and he comes with baggage, including a DUI arrest that got him cut by the Cardinals in December (he was claimed off waivers by the Pats). He'll come cheap so maybe he's worth a flier. Also, Bowles was an assistant in Arizona for two of Floyd's five seasons there, including his career-best 2013 campaign (63 catches, 1,041 yards, five touchdowns). So he knows what Floyd can do, and the issues he brings along with him.