FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The players walked into the Jets’ training complex Monday to clean out their lockers and say their goodbyes. There was a disappointing 5-11 season behind them and an uncertain future ahead for many of them.
Ryan Fitzpatrick compared it to the last day of the school year, saying, “Maybe in eighth grade where everybody’s about to go to high school, but maybe not the same high school.”
The quarterback almost assuredly will be enrolled elsewhere next season. A more intriguing roster question: Will the Jets’ leading receiver the last two years be back or will they let him go, too?
Brandon Marshall wants to stay. “Obviously, there’s a business side of it,” he said, “but for me, I’d love to be back.”
Marshall will turn 33 in March. He fell off in a big way from 2015, going from 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns to 59 catches for 788 yards and three touchdowns.
“For me . . . this was my worst year ever,” Marshall said.
He sprained an MCL and hurt a foot in Week 2 at Buffalo but kept playing until he missed Sunday’s win over the Bills with hip and shoulder trouble. Marshall had his share of injuries and drops, but the quarterback and line play, receiver Eric Decker’s injury and double coverage were among other issues that hurt his numbers.
“I’m extremely confident that I’m still an elite receiver, still demand double coverage, still demand a lot of attention,” Marshall said.
There are some promising young receivers on the roster, though. And Marshall is due to make $7.5 million next season.
“I’ll probably play until I’m 38, 39,” he said. “I made that decision this year . . . I love this game . . . It’s not about the money anymore. It’s all about winning. But I know what I’m worth. I think this team knows what I’m worth as far as the organization.”
But he added: “I’ll play for free. My bills are paid.”
In his 11 seasons with four teams, Marshall has never played in the postseason. “I’m tired of watching the playoffs on my couch,” he said. “It’s been a frustrating year. It’s been a frustrating career.”
Marshall took a vocal leadership role but said, “I think in retrospect, I could work on my timing.”
His passionate style didn’t always go over well.
“I think there were times where what he was saying wasn’t coming across the way everyone wanted it to,” receiver Quincy Enunwa said. “When we’re losing, it’s hard.”
Coach Todd Bowles gave Marshall a pass, saying, “Brandon can be volatile at times, but his message is correct of what he’s saying.”
Sheldon Richardson argued with Marshall after the Week 3 loss at Kansas City, then took shots at Marshall when speaking with reporters after the last two games. Marshall still won’t fire back.
“Sheldon is a great talent,” he said. “He has a big heart.”