The New York Jets have key free agents hitting the market this offseason, including Ryan Fitzpatrick, Muhammad Wilkerson and Chris Ivory. The team is expected to keep Fitzpatrick and Wilkerson, but there is a chance that Ivory will be allowed to walk in free agency.
The Jets have a tight salary cap situation heading into the offseason and that could mean the team may have to make some cuts to ensure they can keep certain free agents. Ivory is hitting the market after having over 1000 yards rushing last season and according to ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini, "the indicators suggest" that Ivory will not be back next season. Head coach Todd Bowles has said that the team is interested in retaining Fitzpatrick, while Wilkerson could be an option for the franchise tag.
Along with Fitzpatrick and Wilkerson, the team also has Damon Harrison as a key free agent and that could mean Ivory ends up signing elsewhere. Ivory should get some attention on the market and if that drives his price up, the Jets likely will not match. Wilkerson is coming into free agency after breaking his leg in the season finale and that could impact how teams target him in free agency. Wilkerson is expecting to get a big contract and there is a chance the Jets could consider using the franchise tag on him if the team can't work out a long-term deal.
ESPN New York reports that there is "virtually no chance" that the Jets let Wilkerson hit the open market and that the franchise tag is likely. Wilkerson had 12 sacks for the team last season and over the past three years he has put up 28 sacks while missing just three games. Fitzpatrick had a strong season for the Jets and the team is likely going to try and re-sign him in free agency. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said that he plans on starting contract talks with the quarterback "in the near future."
The Jets have the number 20 pick in the first round of the draft this year and the team has a number of positions they could target with the selection. The running back position should be an option if the team lets Ivory leave, while defensive line, linebacker and cornerback also could be targets. Rich Cimini has put together some potential options for the team and lists names like Ezekiel Elliott, Reggie Ragland, Derrick Henry and Jaylon Smith as early targets. Elliott is expected to be the first back off the board this year, while Henry could be the second RB taken after winning the Heisman trophy last season.