The New York Jets thrived in 2015 partially because Ryan Fitzpatrick proved he can still compete at a high level and partially because Chris Ivory put together one of his best seasons in the league. Ivory did his part as the workhorse back in the offense while setting himself up for a nice pay day in free agency. However, it is uncertain whether or not Ivory will be the running back the Jets choose to sign for 2016 as Ray Rice comes back into the picture.
Rice has stressed that he intends to play again in the NFL after domestic violence charges left him out of the league. Rice's name came up numerous times this year when injuries hit teams, but no one took a serious look at him. However, could the 2016 offseason be when Rice makes his comeback into the league? Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan told WFAN that Rice's name has been brought up as an option for 2016, but a contract is not coming in the near future.
"I think we've talked about that at various points in time," Maccagnan said, via NJ.com. "I would probably say that that would be one that I would probably have to sit down and talk with Todd [Bowles] and Woody [Johnson]. But I don't foresee that at this point in time."
According to ESPN.com, the interest in Rice might only come if Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley all head elsewhere. It is unclear just how much Ivory is favored with the Jets. The running back did not end the season on a high note, being mysteriously benched and considering he will demand a big contract, New York could look elsewhere. Powell could be re-signed for cheap, but he is not ready to lead the rushing attack next season.
The free agent market is deep in talent at the running back position. The Jets could have their pick of several players should Ivory head elsewhere. Lamar Miller, Matt Forte, Arian Foster, LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin are all expected to be searching for new homes in 2016. They would all be solid replacements for Ivory while the Jets could also look to Derrick Henry or Ezekiel Elliott in the NFL Draft. Pairing a rookie with Powell could be a good option for the Jets, but a veteran might be better.
The Jets have a lot of decisions to make this offseason and Ivory might not be an immediate priority. That could push him to another team. The Jets' interest in Rice is certainly interesting. From a pure football standpoint, Rice would be a solid addition to the offense and a good player behind Fitzpatrick, but on the other hand the Jets have finally escaped a lot of the media circus that surrounded the team in the Rex Ryan era and they may have no interest in bringing that back. Rice would bring the media circus back to the Jets.