With free agency approaching (March 9), we're analyzing the biggest needs on the New York Jets' roster, examining possible upgrades :

Position : Secondary

2017 cap hits of top returnees :


Pending free agents : Marcus Williams (RFA), Antonio Allen.

Key stat : The four starters -- Darrelle Revis, Skrine, Gilchrist and Pryor -- combined for only four interceptions last season.

Money matters :  The release of Revis, which will go into effect at the start of the league year (March 9), will create $9.3 million in cap room. They owe him a $6 million guarantee, but that will be reduced by the amount he receives in 2017 from his next team. His recent arrest fueled speculation about the Jets possibly trying to recoup the guarantee, but they won't pursue the matter, sources said. Gilchrist, too, is in danger of being cut. His cap number is inflated and he's recovering from major knee surgery.

Big picture : And so the Jets begin life after Revis. It means they need a No. 1 corner. Truth be told, they need a No. 2 corner, too, because Buster Skrine is best suited to the nickel role. Despite a large cap number, Skrine probably will survive because they'd save only $3.5 million by cutting him. Pryor could be dangled in trade talks before the draft. The former first-round pick hasn't lived up to expectations and the trigger date for his fifth-year option is May 1. The top player in the pipeline -- perhaps the only player -- is Juston Burris, who should ascend to a top-three cornerback role. The bottom line is, the secondary, considered a strength only two years ago, is in the midst of a major overahaul.

Free-agent market watch : Trumaine Johnson (CB), A.J. Bouye (CB), Stephon Gilmore (CB), Logan Ryan (CB), Tony Jefferson (S), Micah Hyde (S), Prince Amukamara (CB), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB), Johnathan Cyprien (S).

Also could become available : Jairus Byrd (S), DeAngelo Hall (S), Tramon Williams (CB).

The game plan : Johnson would've been a potential Jets target, but he was given the franchise tag. The ideal plan: Land a starting corner in free agency, then tap into the draft's deep cornerback class for another potential starter. Bouye, Gilmore and Ryan are the top three free agents, in that order. General manager Mike Maccagnan was part of the scouting department in Houston that discovered Bouye four years ago, but the price will be exorbitant -- at least $12 million per year.

On the positive side, Bouye is only 25 years old. Gilmore is talented, but why did he decline last season? Ryan could be the name to watch; he's smart and was well-groomed in New England. Jefferson would be a nice fit, especially since he played under coach Todd Bowles in Arizona. He will have plenty of suitors, so the price will be steep.

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