By Glenn Naughton
While the rest of the NFL keeps a watchful eye on several big-name free agents, the New York Jets have two players of their own who are set to test the free agent market, albeit on a limited basis. Nose Tackle Damon Harrison and Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett will both be free to shop their services as restricted free agents if and when they receive qualifying offers from Mike Maccagnan and company. With plenty of cap room and no shortage of holes to fill, retaining Harrison and Jarrett should be on the Jets’ “to-do” list as free agency approaches.
Clearly the higher priority is Harrison who is called on to anchor the middle of the Jets three-man front in their 3-4 alignment. Signed in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of William Penn, Harrison has emerged as one of the top players at his position in the NFL. Rated as the league’s third-best run stuffing NT by PFF.com, the big man should be looking at a significant pay raise. Given their cap situation and what is likely to be high-demand for Harrison, a first round tender of just over $3 million (last year’s rate was $3.113) wouldn’t be out of the question if there are no plans for a long-term deal.
If the Jets are willing to take a risk (or a 2nd round pick) for Harrison, 2014’s figure of $2.187 million is likely to increase slightly, but would net them the second round pick of the signing team if he were to go elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Jarrett showed off some of the traits that made him a second-round selection of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 out of Temple. After winning defensive player of the week honors against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 10, Jarrett continued to perform well with increased playing time for the duration of the season.
If the Jets like what they see from Jarrett on film, another figure that will increase from last season but is still manageable was a qualifying offer of $1.431 million. That would all but guarantee Jarrett’s return as any team matching the offer would be forced to surrender their second round selection to acquire his services as that tender requires the team adding the player to surrender their pick for the round in which the player was originally selected.
If the Jets wish to retain Jarrett at the lowest possible salary without receiving any compensation should he move on, last season’s minimum salary for “right of first refusal” offer only, was $1.323 million.