The Jets don't necessarily need to use free agency to bring in new talent — they just made it to the AFC championship game for the second consecutive season. But few teams have as many key players to re-sign as the Jets.
CB Antonio Cromartie, FS Eric Smith, FS Brodney Pool, CB Drew Coleman, DE Shaun Ellis, WR Santonio Holmes, WR Braylon Edwards, WR-RS Brad Smith, P Steve Weatherford and PK Nick Folk are all consistent contributors to the Jets, and are all free agents.
One important thing to consider with free agency looming is the money that the Jets owe two defensive players in 2011 — ILB David Harris and CB Darrelle Revis. Harris received the franchise tag, worth more than $10 million, a huge increase from his rookie contract. The Jets ideally would like to sign him to a long-term, more cap-friendly deal.
Revis' contract presents a bigger problem. In addition to his base salary of $6 million in 2011, Revis gets bonuses of $18 million and $1 million. The bonus money won't hurt the cap, but it means that $25 million is committed to one player — part of Revis' $32.5 million of guaranteed money following 2011 — that could be used to help bring back veterans.
Revis is the best corner in the league and the team thinks very highly of Harris. But those contracts could be an obstacle for GM Mike Tannenbaum as he works to keep one of the AFC's best squads together. It will be crucial for the Jets to get guys like Edwards and Ellis to accept hometown-discount type of salaries to stay in New York and make it easier to focus on Holmes and Cromartie, while also keeping the secondary and special-teams units intact.
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