John B. over at Gang Green Nation has dissected the decision the New York Jets have to make this offseason regarding free agent defensive end Shaun Ellis. Obviously, I felt the need to throw my two cents in...
Despite my reluctance to bring veteran Damien Woody back in 2011 I actually feel the opposite about Ellis. The team should be willing and able to find a compromise to allow him to end his career with the team he started it with.
Ellis isn't going to command big money on the open market, considering his tackle and sack total have declined over the past three seasons. Regardless, he fits well in Rex Ryan's scheme as a run stopping end, who can occasionally provide a pass rush. As a matter of fact, he is far and away the Jets pass rusher on the defensive line, which makes it that much more important to retain him.
Yes, the Jets need to draft his replacement this year and still look to boost their defensive line depth through free agency. However, there is no reason to throw a rookie into a starting role without a reliable veteran presence. Overall, the Jets don't have nearly enough depth to let Ellis walk and have a rookie step in. Let the draft pick spend a year learning behind Ellis and work up to becoming his full time replacement.
I can't imagine Ellis is anxious to leave New York after spending 11 years here and as I said before, I doubt another team will blow him away with a large contract. The two sides should be able to meet in the middle to give a Ellis a two-year contract, with Ellis remaining a starter next year and gradually fading into more of a rotational player towards the end of the contract.
You can't rely on Kris Jenkins anymore because of his injury history. Ropati Pitoitua has potential but is coming off season ending surgery and has never proved anything. Vernon Gholson is going to be released. Trevor Pryce is probably going to retire. The coaching staff seems to be high on Marcus Dixon, but he didn't do enough last year to merit him being handed a major role on the defensive line. It is a smart football move to keep Ellis and it is a smart organizational move to keep a player who has spent his entire career with your organization and is a respected veteran because of it.