It is starting to look like the lockout will finally be coming to an end in the coming weeks. When an agreement is reached, there will be a furiously fast paced period of free agency that will likely make both Twitter and Adam Schefter's head explode. Here is a look at what to expect from the New York Jets when the NFL is back open for business -
1. Wide Receiver Shuffle - The Jets will likely extend a big money, long term offer to Santonio Holmes to kick off free agency, as other teams will do the same to both Holmes and Braylon Edwards. While the Jets are negotiating with the Holmes camp, Edwards will probably receive an offer that is too much for the team to match considering how much they will sink in to Holmes. From everything we have heard this off-season, the team will lay out the big bucks for Holmes that the market will demand before dealing with Edwards, who I am guessing won't be content to sit around and wait to see if the Jets can figure something out with Holmes, while other teams are offering him big money. Brad Smith should be leaving via free agency as other teams will have the luxury to offer more money and playing time than the Jets can.
You can never write off Mike Tannenbaum, but it is unfair to expect the Jets to be able to bring both Holmes and Edwards back. One of the them will have be the first priority and from everything we have heard, that will be Holmes. Edwards would likely have to take a fairly substantial hometown discount to return. There is also the outside chance negotiations will quickly turn sour with Holmes agent and the Jets will immediately turn their focus (and money) to Edwards before he leaves, but I wouldn't bet on that.
2. Cromartie - While the Jets are sorting out their wide receivers, they will see what the market price for Antonio Cromartie is hovering around. Depending on how much they sink into either of their wide receivers, they will determine whether it is worth matching or exceeding. There is a very real chance a team like the Houston Texans will offer Cromartie a contract too rich for the Jets blood. At this point, I would say it is a 50/50 toss up on if Cromartie ends up back.
3. Sorting Out The Remains - How everything shakes out with Holmes/Edwards/Cromartie will determine how the Jets handle their remaining free agents. They need to decide whether there is enough money left to invest in Brodney Pool over Eric Smith at safety, as Pool will likely command more money on the open market. Drew Coleman shouldn't be back if Cromartie re-signs, but if he walks expect the Jets to lock him down for depth purposes and for the team to look at adding another veteran corner.
The team also needs to decide how to handle Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce. They may not be willing to give Ellis enough money or years to get him back and thus have to go with the cheaper option of bringing Pryce back for another year to mentor rookie Muhammad Wilkerson. Similarly the Jets have to make a choice at right tackle, to either go cheaper by bringing Wayne Hunter back to compete with Vladimir Ducasse or spending a little more to get Damien Woody back for another year. It sounds like they are going to find a way to bring Woody back unless something unforeseen happens. I would also expect them to bring Nick Folk, James Ihedigbo and Steve Weatherford back on cheap, short-term deals.
4. Other Considerations - The Jets may look at locking David Harris into a long term contract before the season starts, along with having a few veterans re-negotiate to free up money for this free agency period. They could then look at bringing Jason Taylor back for another year, or signing another veteran outside linebacker. The team will also need to determine whether they need to supplement their wide receivers after either Holmes or Edwards leaves. I would think Randy Moss or Plaxico Burress make the most sense as replacements for Edwards on short term, incentive laden contracts. If Holmes happens to leave, the Jets will have more money freed up and could look at signing a younger receiver with potential to grow in their system like James Jones from Green Bay.