Todd Bowles would love to bring back the entire defense the New York Jets worked with in 2015. That regime of players improved during the year and became one of the better units in the league. However, the chances everyone actually comes back are slim to none as a number of big names have expiring contracts this offseason. With quality depth coming into question, who stays and who goes for the team?
According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, the Jets will first have to decide between Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison. The Jets have Sheldon Richardson returning along with Leonard Williams following his rookie season. Both Wilkerson and Harrison cannot be re-signed. They are both coming off successful seasons while Wilkerson ended his year with a broken leg. They both have doubted their return to the franchise as Harrison admits things are up in the air right now while still hoping to come back.
"I want to remain a Jet. Jet for life," Harrison said, via the New York Daily News. "Body of work. I've only been a starter for three years. But in those three years I think I've done a pretty good job of fulfilling that job description. You hear people say you're just a two-down player, but there's only three downs in football. I mean, I'm on the field for a better portion of the downs."
According to Manish Mehta of the Daily News, one thing the Jets could try and do is re-sign Harrison and trade Wilkerson. The Jets could take a similar route the Chiefs did when they tagged Jared Allen and traded him to the Vikings. Wilkerson has a lot of value in the league and several teams would love to try and get ahold of him. The Jets could take advantage and get more draft picks in the process.
Another big question the Jets will have is what to do with Antonio Cromartie. The veteran did not have a shutdown season like the Jets wanted. He rounded late in the year, but is he worth the $8 million he is on the books for in 2016? The Jets cannot really afford to lose Cromartie considering Dee Milliner is unreliable and Marcus Williams is hit or miss. The team cannot keep him at his current price which means the cornerback might have to take a pay cut or risk getting released.
New York has a lot of free agency decisions to make. The team needs to get Ryan Fitzpatrick re-sign while choosing between Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. There is a lot of work ahead for Bowles and company.