Commentary

Seven key Jets with futures up in air

Gang Green has star players on both sides of the ball who are free agents right now

Updated: July 27, 2011, 4:00 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

Here's a look at the New York Jets' most important free agents, as well as players the Jets might target from other teams:

Top unrestricted Jets free agents

Holmes
Holmes

Santonio Holmes, WR, 5-11, 192, 5 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: He's a game changer, and the Jets don't have many of those. He won three straight games last season with big plays in crunch time.

Potential snag: With Holmes, it's all about the money, and he could be looking for $10 million per year -- "franchise" money for a wide receiver. The Redskins reportedly have Holmes as their No. 1 target. Shades of the 2003 Redskin raid of the Jets?

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: He's one strike from a one-year suspension in the league's substance-abuse program.

Possible replacement: If Holmes bolts, the Jets would be almost forced to re-sign Braylon Edwards and shop for another veteran.


Edwards
Edwards

Braylon Edwards, WR, 6-3, 214, 6 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: He's a big target for Mark Sanchez, he blocks like a madman and he has cured his dropsies.

Potential snag: Edwards, who made $6.2 million last season, wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver -- and many scouts will tell you he's not a true No. 1.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: There are questions about his maturity off the field. He also recently pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Possible replacement: How does Randy Moss grab you? He's a walking enigma, but he is big and can still stretch the field, according to Rex Ryan.


Cromartie
Cromartie

Antonio Cromartie, CB, 6-2, 210, 5 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: Former first-round pick Kyle Wilson isn't ready to start, and you need two good, man-to-man corners to play the Jets' pressure-oriented scheme.

Potential snag: Because of Wilson's disappointing rookie year, Cromartie has a lot of leverage. Cromartie, seemingly determined for a bidding war, claimed he's not giving any hometown discounts.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: With Darrelle Revis making $11.5 million a year, can the Jets really afford another big contract at cornerback?

Possible replacement: Wilson, Chris Carr (Ravens), Josh Wilson (Ravens), Nnamdi Asomugha (Raiders)


Smith
Smith

Brad Smith, WR/KR, 6-2, 212, 5 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: He does everything, including the successful Wildcat package. He makes plays and saves roster spots.

Potential snag: The new kickoff rule will mean more touchbacks, minimizing Smith's value as a premier returner. The Dolphins, who hired former Jets assistant Brian Daboll as their offensive coordinator, are said to be interested in Smith.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: He's a luxury item, and the Jets can't afford luxury items. Under special teams coach Mike Westhoff, it's all about the system, not the players.

Possible replacement: The Jets drafted WR Jeremy Kerley, another multipurpose weapon, in the fifth round.


Ellis
Ellis

Shaun Ellis, DE, 6-5, 290, 11 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: He's on the downside, but his heir apparent -- first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson -- isn't ready, not after missing so much time because of the lockout.

Potential snag: This is Ellis' first bite at the free-agent apple, and he might have unrealistic expectations.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: He's 34, which is ancient for a defensive lineman.

Possible replacement: He's already on campus -- Wilkerson.


Pool
Pool

Brodney Pool, S, 6-2, 214, 6 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: After struggling to learn the system, Pool showed flashes of improvement late in the season. He'd come at a reasonable price.

Potential snag: Pool might prefer a defense that plays more Cover 2 than the Jets, an opportunity to concentrate on pass coverage.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: Unless you're talking about Ed Reed, safeties are relatively interchangeable in Rex Ryan's system.

Possible replacement: Eric Smith, another free agent. He split time with Pool last season and did a solid job.


Coleman
Coleman

Drew Coleman, CB, 5-9, 180, 5 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: Depth, depth, depth. You're talking about a team that dressed 10 defensive backs in a playoff game.

Potential snag: If Cromartie re-signs, Coleman probably will be the No. 4 corner -- and it's hard to use that as a selling point.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: He's a nice role player, but you don't pay much for dime-package DBs.

Possible replacement: The Jets could stay in-house, turning to Marquice Cole or Dwight Lowery.


On the Jets' radar

Randy Moss, WR, 6-4, 210, 13 yrs. (Titans)
Mark Sanchez throwing to "The Slouch"? It could happen if Braylon Edwards bolts. Moss looked old last season, but he's the best vertical receiver in the game, according to Rex Ryan.

Plaxico Burress, WR, 6-5, 226, 9 yrs. (Giants)
The Jets were interested before Burress went to prison. He's a huge target, which would help Sanchez immensely. You know he's going to be motivated, but did his skills erode in prison?

Malcom Floyd, WR, 6-5, 225, 5 yrs. (Chargers)
When the Jets faced the Chargers two years ago in the playoffs, they feared Floyd more than the heralded Vincent Jackson.

Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, 6-2, 210, 8 yrs. (Raiders)
Imagine a tandem of Asomugha and Darrelle Revis. How would anybody complete a pass? Alas, it's a long shot. Asomugha is the No. 1 free agent.

Johnathan Joseph, CB, 5-11, 193, 5 yrs. (Bengals)
He's probably the best corner not named Nnamdi on the market. The question is, could he handle a heavy dose of man-to-man?

Chris Carr, CB, 5-10, 182, 6 yrs. (Ravens)
Ryan has had an eye on Carr for a few years. He's a couple of notches below Asomugha, but he'd come a lot cheaper.

Matt Roth, OLB/DE, 6-4, 275, 6 yrs. (Browns)
He played for Ryan's brother, Rob, in Cleveland, so Rex will have a good scouting report. Roth isn't a big sack guy, but he's a tough run defender and could replace Bryan Thomas if the Jets want to get younger.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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