Rex Ryan returns, but some notable veterans are likely to be shown the door this offseason. Expect the Jets to make a push to upgrade their woeful skill position talent on offense. On defense, there is room for improvement once you get beyond an excellent D-line led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Biggest free agents
» RT Austin Howard: Howard isn't a stud, but he brought stability to a position that had been a major issue for the team in recent seasons. Howard started all 16 games and didn't get Geno Smith killed. He's a liability as a run blocker, but the Jets could do worse (cough, Wayne Hunter, cough).
» OLB Calvin Pace: Pace set a career high with 10 sacks this past season, and plays a position where the Jets have little depth. That said, he'll be 34 in October and is unlikely to repeat his '13 production.
» RG Willie Colon: Another 16-game starter that helped bring stability on the right side of the Jets' line. ProFootballFocus.com ranked Colon 36th among 81 qualifying guards in 2013.
Other key free agents: K Nick Folk, TE Jeff Cumberland, S Ed Reed, TE Kellen Winslow and OL Vlad Ducasse.
What they need
The Jets have went defense on their past five first-round draft picks. That's about to change. It won't be a surprise if New York -- in desperate need for a playmaker -- takes the best available wide receiver off the board with the 18th overall selection. The Jets could also be players for free agent Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, who's coming off a career year.
Finding competition for quarterback Geno Smith is also a priority, whether or not that be through the draft or locating a veteran in free agency.
On the way out?
» CB Antonio Cromartie: Cromartie is coming off a down season and carries a $14.98 million salary cap charge. He said himself he believes he could be a cap casualty next month, though he later took the statement back. A healthy Cromartie -- he battled a hip issue this season -- could still be a solution in a thin secondary. He'll have to be open to a pay cut, however.
» WR Santonio Holmes: With the exception of his impact 2010 season, Holmes has been a blight for the Jets. They'll save $8.25 million on their cap by cutting the mercurial wide receiver loose. They won't look back.
» QB Mark Sanchez: Believe it or not, Sanchez actually still makes sense on this roster as a veteran who can push Geno Smith. But too much has transpired over the last 24 months to justify keeping the erstwhile "Sanchize" around.
The Jets will gain cap space but cutting the quarterback and Sanchez will get what he desperately needs -- a fresh start.
Offseason crystal ball
Holmes and Sanchez will be history. Cromartie could be back. The Jets have some cap flexibility for the first time in awhile, and we can see them making a splashy move in free agency to add a playmaker (Woody Johnson loves the back page, after all.) Idzik's challenge will be to plug holes with under-the-radar impact players the way his former team in Seattle did so deftly.
The Jets shouldn't be fooled by their 8-8 season. It took a lot of luck to be an also-ran. Some pieces are in place, but there's still much work to be done.
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Offseason Forecast: New York Jets
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