Rebuilding is the only way for the Jets to forge ahead
Newly hired general manager John Idzik doesn't like to use the dreaded "r" word when talking about the Jets' situation these days.
"There's a negative connotation associated with rebuilding, but honestly, I think every NFL team retools or rebuilds to a certain extent," Idzik said.
With all due respect, and as any Jets fan in his right mind understands, this team is the very definition of rebuilding. With free agency not even a week old, the Jets already have said goodbye to seven defensive starters and in all likelihood will have at least four new starters on offense in 2013. And we haven't even gotten to what happens next with Darrelle Revis.
So if you thought 6-10 was bad last season, just wait until you see what happens this year. It could be flirting-with-the-first-overall-pick-in-2014- and-Rex-Ryan-gets-fired ugly.
But as painful as this process already is, it is a necessary part of setting the team on the right course for the future. Rebuilding hurts. But with intractable salary-cap problems squeezing the roster and with the inevitable exodus of expensive veterans, the only way to turn this thing around is to get younger and cheaper through solid drafting and sensible free-agent acquisitions.
This clearly will be Ryan's most challenging season as a head coach, and by the look of things now, he'll have something close to an expansion team to work with.
Sure, there still are quality players such as offensive linemen Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and linebacker David Harris. Revis might stay too, if the Jets can't field a quality trade offer.
But the quarterback position still is unsettled with Mark Sanchez and David Garrard as the top two passers. Even if the Jets sign former Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, that's hardly a major step forward. Shonn Greene, who wasn't all that good to begin with, is gone at running back, and in his place are Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight and newly acquired journeyman tailback Mike Goodson. (No, I'd never heard of Goodson before this week, either.)
Receiver Santonio Holmes comes off foot surgery, Stephen Hill needs to take a major step forward after an uncertain rookie season and Jeff Cumberland takes over for Dustin Keller at tight end.
The defense has holes everywhere. At outside linebacker. At inside linebacker. At defensive end after Mike DeVito signed with Kansas City. Gone is Sione Po'uha at nose tackle and in his place is Antonio Garay, another marginal talent they got on the cheap.
And then there's Revis, who still is with the team -- and now $1 million richer after Saturday's roster bonus was due.
But it's anyone's guess if Revis sticks around for the season. With only the Bucs interested -- but unwilling at this point to surrender a significant package of draft picks -- the Jets are better off holding on to the injured cornerback and waiting for him to complete his rehab from knee surgery to see just how good he can be.
The free-agent cornerback market already has cratered, and there still are quality veterans on the open market. So getting anything substantial in a trade of an injured player is iffy at best.
If a good deal comes along, fine. But there's nothing wrong with waiting for Revis to get healthy and then waiting for the market to heat up. Injuries to cornerbacks on contending teams will drive up the price significantly, and Idzik then might be able to command a first-rounder plus extras in the package he'd like to get in return for the team's best player.
It's certainly worth taking a shot at re-signing Revis, especially with so many deals coming at under $6 million a season in this year's market. But if Revis still is looking for that $15-million-per-year contract, forget it. Not on this team. Not in this situation.
Just make the best trade, move on and let the rebuilding process continue through the draft and future free agency, when the salary-cap problems are fixed.
This year's draft is considered deep at defensive line and safety, two areas of need for the Jets. And with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel expected to headline the 2014 draft, there's a potential reward for the pain of a bad record in 2013.
Yes, it hurts. And it's going to hurt worse starting in September as the losses pile up. But with the mess Idzik has to clean up, it's the only way.