According to several published reports the NFL lockout should be over in the next 7-10 days. This would allow the league to have a full preseason/regular season along with an accelerated business year in terms of making personnel moves.
Assuming that the lockout does indeed end as reported, here are five concerns for the New York Jets.
Salary cap space- As of now there have not been any reported numbers for the 2011 salary cap amount, but many believe it will be less than $130 million dollars. Currently the New York Jets have anywhere from $111-$120 million dollars in cap space allocated for the 2011 season. Based on the fact that the team has approximately 14-18 potential free agents to try and re-sign including players like Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Antonio Cromartie the Jets are going to face some serious challenges.
There is some wiggle room as Gang Green can create some cap space by getting linebacker David Harris signed to a long term deal (currently a $10 million dollar cap hit) as well as re-working quarterback Mark Sanchez’ contract (approx $18 million dollar cap hit). It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out. I hope general manager Mike Tannenbaum is getting plenty of rest now.
Free agent frenzy- As mentioned earlier the Jets have anywhere from 14-18 potential free agents depending on the rules that are agreed upon in the new collective bargaining agreement. The list includes some big names Holmes, Edwards, Cromartie but also some very valuable role players for the team as well: Wayne Hunter, Robert Turner, Eric Smith, Drew Coleman, Nick Folk, Steve Weatherford, and Brodney Pool.
The New York Jets are going to have to make some tough personnel decisions in a season where there is going to be a premium put on team chemistry and system familiarity. The lack of a true offseason conditioning/training program is going to make it very difficult to work new players into a system. For my money I would try to bring back as many starters as I can, including veterans Shaun Ellis, Jason Taylor, and Damien Woody who were released prior to the lockout.
Development of Mark Sanchez- Entering his third season in the NFL many are going to expect big things out of quarterback Mark Sanchez. The young signal caller improved in 2010, and played his best under the bright lights of the playoffs, but he still has some work to do in terms of becoming a more consistent thrower. There has to be some concern over how much the lockout hindered Sanchez’ ability to improve this offseason. Granted Mark did arrange some passing camps and workouts, but the fact remains that he was not receiving any true coaching to help improve his game.
Wide receiver position- The New York Jets have openly stated that they want to re-sign receivers Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Brad Smith. This would be the ideal scenario for Gang Green, but in an open market anything can happen. The Jets will have some tough financial decisions to make as Sanchez appeared to have great chemistry with Edwards (who I believe should be a priority to re-sign) while Holmes made some incredible game clinching plays. If Gang Green were to lose one of their star playmakers, it could be a hit to not only the offense, but Mark’s development as well.
Development of younger players- Based on the Jets current cap situation the team will have to rely on several of their younger players to take on larger roles. Players like Kyle Wilson, Vlad Ducasse, John Conner, and Marquice Cole lead the list and there has to be some concern over their improvement this offseason while being locked out from the team’s facilities. It is one thing to work out in a gym, another to receive the one on one coaching necessary to raise your game to the next level. Especially in the case of Ducasse and Wilson who could both be thrown into the starting lineup depending on how free agency plays out.
What do you think about these concerns Jets fans? Discuss in the JetNation fan forums.