Mike Tannenbaum and the rest of you can stop stressing out for the day about what is going to happen with the Jets this off-season because I have all of you covered. Let's work through the major questions facing the Green and White heading into the 2011 NFK season that will hopefully actually come...
The team's first priority is going to be taking care of inside linebacker David Harris. You can take it to the bank that Harris will get the big contract he deserves this off-season, especially after waiting patiently without a hold-out prior to last year. He isn't the flashiest guy but Harris is the team's best defensive player not named Darrelle Revis.
Early indications are that the team's second priority will be cornerback/labor leader/Brady enthusiast Antonio Cromartie, which shouldn't surprise anybody. Rex Ryan constantly harps about how much he loves corners and it isn't easy to find players who can play man to man coverage an overwhelming majority of the time. Kyle Wilson certainly didn't look ready to take over as the starter opposite Darrelle Revis last year and it would be too big of risk to let Cromartie walk considering the Jets defensive system.
After the Jets solidify their defense by bringing Harris and Cromartie back, expect the attention to turn towards Santonio Holmes. Listen, I love what Braylon Edwards did for the team this year. The guy improved immensely from 2009 and was reliable, tough, and a beast near the end-zone. However, let's be realistic Holmes and Edwards aren't both coming back. If Mike Tannenbaum can pull that off, he deserves a gift certificate to Roscoe's Diner. When the Jets are forced to decide, they are going to go with Holmes and it is the right decision. He is an elite playmaker in this league and about as clutch as a football player can be.
After those three, it gets a little dicey. Do you bring Damien Woody back or do you get younger by letting Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse compete for the starting job? Will Kris Jenkins be willing to take a major pay cut to return? Can they work out something out with Shaun Ellis so he can finish his career with the team he started it with? What about Mr. Everything. Brad Smith? Decisions need to be made on Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, Nick Folk, and others.
Considering the Jets need to save money somewhere, I wouldn't be surprised to see Damien Woody no longer with the team in 2011. He has been great for them the past three seasons but Hunter showed he was capable this year when given extended playing time and maybe Ducasse will turn into something after a red-shirt rookie year. Jenkins will do the smart thing and take a pay cut. I think something will eventually be worked out with Ellis because if it isn't you could see New England or Miami signing him, which should make all Jets fans feel a little sick.
I would like to say that since Braylon Edwards won't be back, Brad Smith will be but it is far from a slam dunk. Smith is going to command Josh Cribbs type money and it might not be feasible for the Jets to pay that to him. If Smith leaves, it will only put more pressure on Joe McKnight to develop into the player the Jets drafted him to be. In the secondary, unless Drew Coleman comes back on a near minimum deal, the team will probably let him walk so Kyle Wilson can get more playing time. They will have to decide between Eric Smith and Brodney Pool and my guess is that they will go with Pool, considering how he came on at the end of this year.
In the draft and if the Jets attack the free agency/trade market, long term replacements are needed for Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas. The defense desperately needs youth and athleticism in their front seven. Mike Tannenbaum must hit on his draft picks this year, unlike last year when nobody made any signifigant contributions.