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Assessing the Jets who are free agents

Just how many “wooden nickels” do the Jets have? And how many players are worth keeping?

Veteran cornerback Morris Claiborne, reacting after a penalty

Veteran cornerback Morris Claiborne, reacting after a penalty in a game Dec. 24, 2017 against the Chargers, is an unrestricted free agent who wants to return to the Jets next season. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Jets have 16 unrestricted free agents heading into the offseason. Several are needed to maintain the positive vibes the team talked about having after a 5-11 season.

“This team, right here, we’re real close,” cornerback Buster Skrine said. “We got a competitive team. We just have to learn how to finish.”

While the Jets do have some free agents worth keeping, coach Todd Bowles referred to players who he has no use for as “wooden nickels.”

So just how many wooden nickels do the Jets have? And how many players are worth keeping?

An assessment:

Josh McCown, Quarterback

Comment: He produced a career year before breakaing his left hand and missing the last three games. The Jets expressed a desire to bring McCown back. McCown told Newsday he will talk with his family before making a decision on a return. The Jets could sign him to another one-year contract, but if they get a high-quality quarterback in free agency it appears McCown wouldn’t be needed.

Morris Claiborne, Cornerback

Comment: The veteran started 15 games, most since his rookie year with Dallas in 2012. “I hope to stay here and I’m hoping to get something done,” he said of free agency. Claiborne was solid in covering the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. His eight pass breakups was the most since 2012.

Wesley Johnson, Center

Comment: There were times the middle of the line struggled with pass protection and run blocking. Johnson was average at times and toward the end of the season shared snaps with Jonotthan Harrison. Johnson played 90.5 percent of the offensive snaps, but it’s no guarantee he will return.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight end

Comment: After a fast start, he sometimes disappeared in the offense for a variety of reasons. He did finish with 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Seferian-Jenkins graded himself a 6 on a scale of 1-to-10. He wants to return, and the Jets have held some talks toward that end.

Demario Davis, Linebacker

Comment: In his return to the Jets, Davis produced a team-lead in sacks (5) and tackles (97). Davis enjoyed his time with the team but is open to seeing what the market bears. The Jets officials want him back. “I made a lot of strides in my game,” he said. “I guess a goal of mine was trying to put my name in the conversation with the top linebackers in the league. Now I’m trying to keep climbing, keep growing.”

Mike Pennel, Defensive tackle

Comment: The Jets like the versatility of Pennel, who played 16 games, earning three starts. His snap count increased in the final three weeks when Muhammad Wilkerson was inactive. The Jets want to bring Pennel back, given his age, 26, and potential.

Chandler Catanzaro, Kicker

Comment: He should return after making 83.3 percent of his field goal tries (14-19 on kicks of 40 or more yards). “I’m pretty happy where I stand statistically,” Catanzaro said. In 2016, with Arizona, he had four different holder/long snapper combinations. It led to 75 percent made kicks. The holder/long snapper stayed the same with the Jets and there were positive results.

Kony Ealy, Defensive end

Comment: The Jets scooped up Ealy after he was released by the Patriots before the season and he played strong, leading linemen with nine pass breakups. A good locker room presence, the Jets would be wise to re-sign him.

Jonotthan Harrison, Center/Guard

Comment: If Wesley Johnson goes, Harrison could start at center in 2018. He played 98 snaps the last two games and Todd Bowles said he was pleased with the effort. If Harrison doesn’t start next season, he provides good insurance on the interior of the line.

Bruce Carter, Linebacker

Comment: He mainly played special teams, finishing with 10 tackles, fourth on the team. Carter said he would like to return and the Jets probably will re-sign him.

David Bass, Defensive end/Linebacker

Comment: He made some quality plays after the Jets signed him on Sept. 21. He had 3½ sacks and 15 tackles in 13 games. Bass proved he can blitz from the outside, and he flashed some ability with an inside rush, too.

Julian Stanford, Linebacker

Comment: He was second on the team with 19 special team tackles, including nine solo tackles. The Jets talked a lot about continuity, and keeping Stanford would fit along those lines.

Terrence Brooks, Safety

Comment: Limited snaps for the special teamer, Brooks will get a new deal to compete for a job in training camp.

Ed Stinson, Defensive tackle

Comment: Played in just four games before he was placed on injured reserve. He’s a backup lineman who you can wait on, which is something the Jets will do. You can never have enough defensive linemen. Jets had seven on active roster in 2017.

Chris Gragg, Tight end

Comment: On IR the entire season, and he’ll have a few players ahead of him in training camp — Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling.

Dakota Dozier, Guard/Center

Comment: Might win a starting job next season. He started the last two games of this season and has a future in the interior. His value is that he can play three positions.

New York Sports