By Ernie Palladino
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In all frankness, for all the scouting and analyzing of veteran free agents the Jets have done, they can just as easily tape a list of available talent to the wall, throw a dart, and hit someone who would represent an upgrade over what they fielded last year.
That’s how many holes GM Mike Maccagnan has on his roster.
Quarterback? At least one is out there.
Offensive linemen? A bunch.
Tight end, linebacker, cornerback? Yeah, there’s a few of those. Maybe some are a little old in the tooth, but they still have some life in their bodies. And the Jets need someone at every one of those positions.
Of course, Maccagnan won’t be able to fill all those vacancies through free agency. That would take up way more than the $167 million salary cap teams have to work under this year. But with $33.2 million at his disposal once the signing period opens at 4 p.m. Thursday, and possibly more if he cuts Eric Decker and trades Sheldon Richardson down the road, he should find a couple of useful bodies out there.
The questions he’ll answer, though, revolve around whether the available talent is worth the price tag.
To that “pay or pass” quandry, we offer the following analysis of a few of the potential signings the press has bandied about in recent days.
MIKE GLENNON: Reports have Glennon looking to play in the $15 million-per-year neighborhood. Must be because he’s a hot name who has drawn considerable interest from the Bears. It can’t be because of recent accomplishments. The 27-year-old hasn’t started a game since 2014, and couldn’t beat out the likes of Josh Freeman, Josh McCown, and then-rookie Jameis Winston in 2015. It’s not like he’s going to come here and engineer a quick turnaround. A cheaper salary might have been enticing, especially if the Jets intended to double-dip at quarterback with a high-round pick. But at the price he’s asking, better to let the Bears take that financial hit.
Reports about the Jets’ interest are conflicting, but they shouldn’t be.
A.J. BOUYE: The Texans decided not to franchise their fourth cornerback, despite Bouye’s late-season and playoff rise to prominence. That may turn into their biggest mistake, as Bouye has drawn interest from numerous teams. He’d come in especially handy for the Jets, since the unloading of Darrelle Revis left a huge hole in the secondary. Like Glennon, he might get between $12 million and $15 million per year. But unlike the quarterback, this 6-footer is coming off a season where he knocked down 16 passes to go along with a sack and an interception. That was the regular season. In two playoff games, he picked off two passes, broke up six, and forced a fumble. Maccagnan should make a huge play for a 25-year-old whose arrow appears pinned at due north.
RUSSELL OKUNG: The former Seahawk tackle is 29 and would look look awfully sweet on the Jets’ vacant left side. Denver kept him for a year and then cut him for financial reasons. But the Broncos might be in the mix to sign him back at a more reasonable rate. Maccagnan needs to make a play for this guy, but no one will blame him if he eventually loses out to a field that could also include the Giants, Vikings, Panthers, and Chargers.
JAY CUTLER: If the Bears do sign Glennon, rest assured they’ll cut their current starter. But Maccagnan should be wary of Cutler. He is coming off a five-start season, and hasn’t had an injury-free year since 2009. Plus, he throws too many senseless interceptions. Stay away.
BRIAN SCHWENKE: The Daily News reported that the Jets have some interest in the Titans’ center. He has really been a backup, having started 28 games in four seasons. But that’s still more than the nine career starts departed Nick Mangold’s backup, Wesley Johnson, has. Might be a solid signing at the right price.
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