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Analysis of Jets' roster reveals sobering truth: A long way to go

From ESPN - January 11, 2018

When the New York Jets gutted the roster last offseason, the long-term plan was to create a war chest in salary-cap space for 2018.

Mission accomplished. Right now, they have a projected $75 million in cap room, according to overthecap.com.

They also wanted to add draft capital, and they did that by acquiring a second-round pick for Sheldon Richardson. Now they have three picks in the top 49.

Armed with those resources, the Jets soon can go to work on a roster that needs major repairs. The sobering reality is, the rebuilding is not close to completion.

Let's break it down, position by position, analyzing the players under contract for 2018. (Note: Listed separately are the free agents -- unrestricted (15), restricted (six) and exclusive-rights (five). It also does not include those who signed future contracts.)

QUARTERBACK (2): Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty.

Analysis: The wrecking ball is coming. After three years of trying to build up the position, general manager Mike Maccagnan is expected to tear it down. Petty, in the final year of his contract, probably is a goner. Hackenberg could stick as a backup (did someone say redshirt year No. 3?), but he wo not be in the mix to start. Maccagnan will look to add at least two arms -- a veteran (Josh McCown?) and a rookie.

Free agents: McCown (UFA).

RUNNING BACK (5): Bilal Powell, Matt Forte, Elijah McGuire, Akeem Judd, Jahad Thomas.

Analysis: Forte's days are numbered. His expected release will save $3 million against the cap, creating more opportunities for the younger backs. Powell remains productive in a complementary role, but his $4.9 million cap charge is relatively high for a running back who turns 30 next season. They'd save $4 million by releasing him. Clearly, this position needs an infusion of young talent.

Free agents: FB Lawrence Thomas (ERFA).

WIDE RECEIVER (9): Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart, Lucky Whitehead, JoJo Natson, Charone Peake, Devin Smith, Brisly Estime.

Analysis: The big question is whether Quincy Enunwa's return from a season-ending injury will make Kearse expendable. Kearse posted career numbers as a possession receiver and established himself as a strong locker-room presence, but he's vulnerable because of a $5 million cap charge. The Jets would clear the entire amount by releasing him. Maccagnan has invested considerable draft capital in the position and he still does not have a No. 1 receiver.

Free agents: Enunwa (RFA).

TIGHT END (1): Jordan Leggett.

Analysis: It's not hard to figure out that work needs to be done. The top storyline surrounds Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who hits free agency after a solid season. The Jets have interest, but they wo not go crazy to keep him. A lot depends on his asking price. Leggett, coming off knee surgery, is the same type of tight end as Seferian-Jenkins, but has no game experience.

Free agents: Seferian-Jenkins (UFA), Eric Tomlinson (ERFA), Neal Sterling (RFA), Chris Gragg (UFA).

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (3): Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell, Ben Ijalana.

Analysis: Ijalana, who played only 56 offensive snaps in a backup role, is in trouble because of a $6 million cap charge. The Jets would save $4.75 million by cutting him. Beachum likely will return because his $8 million salary is guaranteed. This is a position of need.

Free agents: Brent Qvale (RFA).

GUARD (2): James Carpenter, Brian Winters.

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