NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Chris Ivory seems resigned to the fact that he may have played his last game with the Jets.
Despite recently completing his best season in the NFL, it’s looking more and more like the impending free agent running back and the Jets will part ways once the signing period starts early next month.
Speaking to the media on Sunday prior to the Pro Bowl, Ivory didn’t sound too confident about his chances to stay with the Jets, who at this point have roughly $14 million in salary cap space and a lot of different areas to address.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Ivory said. “I would like to stay in New York if we reach an agreement. But I know the cap space they’re working with and everything and the other guys they have to get signed or want to get signed back. But if it doesn’t work out, I’m just looking forward to continuing my career elsewhere if it happens to go that way.”
Though he did rush for a career-high and AFC-leading 1,070 yards in 2015, Ivory tailed off considerably during the second half of the season. Though he only missed one game, he sat out parts of several others due to apparent injuries, likely a byproduct of his physical running style.
With the NFL clearly a passing league and some teams more inclined to approach the running back position by committee, it seems unlikely that the Jets would ante up big money over a long period of time to a running back who will turn 28 on March 22.
The Jets allocated just $7 million in cap space to their running backs in 2015. Ivory made a base salary of $2 million and could at least double that number on the open market. Considering they want to re-sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, at least put the franchise tag on defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and improve other areas of the roster, the Jets will likely will have to cut back elsewhere, even if they get some of their more expensive players to restructure their contracts.
Versatile back Bilal Powell could also test free agency, though it’s thought that his contract demands will be far less than Ivory’s. Right now, only veteran Zac Stacy is signed for 2016, meaning the Jets’ ground game could get a major makeover.
“They want to bring me back, but like I said, I think it’s about the cap space. That’s going to be the biggest factor as to whether I’m back or not,” Ivory said.
Acquired from New Orleans for a fourth-round draft pick in June of 2013, Ivory ran for 2,724 yards, 4.3-yard-per-carry average, and 16 touchdowns in 46 games for the Jets over the past three seasons.