By Jason Keidel
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This could be the most fertile NFL free agent market in history. Just off the cuff you can summon a Pro Bowl roll call.
Karlos Dansby. Darrelle Revis. LaMarr Woodley. Michael Vick. Donte Whitner. Michael Johnson. Darren McFadden. DeMarcus Ware. Julius Peppers. Ryan Clark. Antonio Cromartie. Santonio Holmes. Branden Albert. Vontae Davis. Golden Tate. Julian Edelman. Jared Allen. Aqib Talib. Justin Tuck. Hakeem Nicks.
And the Jets have signed … Eric Decker, who had 44 catches the year before Peyton Manning commandeered Denver’s offense, and will likely return to 44 catches with Geno Smith slinging the ball.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Jets had nearly $40 million in cap space. In fact, they’ve added to the free agent debris by cutting Cromartie and Holmes, still valuable NFL players who just seemed to give up on the Jets.
Upon signing his big deal Holmes, former Super Bowl MVP, morphed into a mouthy, me-first plague that seemed to doom the entire team, exemplified by that game against Miami, where he blew up in the huddle and got benched in the final moments of a close game.
The Jets should make a play for Michael Vick. They should make a play for a wide receiver, at least a better one. Didn’t Nicks say he’d sign a one-year contract just to reprove himself? And he’s already in the building.
And they should bring Revis Island home. Oh, they can’t, because Bill Belichick bogarted the best cornerback in football for just a one-year deal. Not only did they not even try to re-sign Revis, they now must play him twice this year. This was much more than a move of vanity or vengeance by the Patriots. Revis probably makes them favorites to reach the Super Bowl (again) in 2014.
Revis didn’t depart the Jets with garden variety vitriol we often see from stars who were jettisoned in their primes. With Cromartie gone and Dee Milliner showing a little more promise, Revis would have been be a perfect mentor for the second-year player.
Plus, players are always better two years after ACL surgery. Unless you’re a bionic back like Adrian Peterson, the first year after the knife is an extended rehab period. And now New England will enjoy Revis at his motivated best.
The Jets could use some offensive line help, as well, and lord knows $40 million can buy you much meat. And how about someone to run behind them? Darren Sproles, anyone? Oh, he’s gone, too. And the Eagles got him for just a fifth-round pick.
The sand is running out on this free agent fire sale, and the Jets can’t open camp saying they are sated from signing their kicker and a second-tier receiver. It would be quintessentially Jet to clear copious cap space for cosmetic purposes.
No matter where they spend their money, they must spend. This is the moment the Jets have been waiting for. They have lots of youth, talent, and temerity on defense, and have a nearly unlimited budget to feed their anemic offense.
This season is a referendum on John Idzik, who was brought here for this very situation. This is a GMs dream, to be miles below the cap, with a hungry head coach and eager, loyal fan base in the greatest media market in the world.
There are no more excuses, no financial weeds to whack through, and some pricey PSLs ready to be sold with a solid splash in the free agent market. With DeMarcus Ware the latest stud to fall off the market, the long list of useful free agents is shrinking. And thus far the Jets have signed a kicker and Decker.
Jets fans have waited 45 years for another Super Bowl run. In an emaciated AFC, the Jets won’t have a better chance to get there. If they blow this, they may have to wait another half-century.
They’ve already been booted off Revis Island.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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