The New York Jets haven’t made any major splashes in free agency, which was expected as they began the process of rebuilding their roster. They have made 6 new additions for only a total of 2.8 million guaranteed dollars. Let’s run through them quickly and assess realistic expectations for them in 2013
David Garrard – Quarterback - A former Pro-Bowl quarterback who hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since 2010 because of various injuries, most notably to his back. Garrard at his best was an accurate, smart and mobile quarterback who led a playoff team. If he is healthy and approximating somewhat near his 2010 play, he will push Mark Sanchez for the starting job this summer. Those are two major “ifs” – Depending on how the NFL Draft shakes out, it is far from crazy to think that Garrard could start at some point this season. If he doesn’t, the Jets have no long term ties to him and he is a capable veteran backup.
Antwan Barnes – Outside Linebacker - Barnes has been a situational player for most of his career but will get a good shot at starting for this Jets defense, even if they draft an outside linebacker in the first round. He is familiar with Rex Ryan’s defense, provides needed pass rushing speed and skill off the edge, and is the most experienced outside linebacker currently on the roster. Will he be overextended as a starter? Probably. Can he still provide decent production off the edge, particularly on passing downs? Yes. In an ideal situation, the Jets will draft a pair of outside linebackers (one early and one in the mid-rounds), and after starting the year behind Barnes, they will both grow into full-time players.
Mike Goodson – Running Back - Arguably the player with the highest ceiling out of any Jets free agent signing. Goodson has been a backup and role player for most of his NFL career but possesses the skill-set to be a starter, particularly in the type offense Marty Morhinweg is likely to run in New York. Considering the depth chart at running back, Goodson is the current favorite to be the starter and see the bulk of the touches out of the backfield. If he can stay healthy and handle the workload, he has the potential to be a 1,200 yard back this season.
Willie Colon – Guard - There are health questions surrounding most, if not all of these additions and Colon is no exception. If Colon is healthy, he will be a solid starter at one Guard position for the Jets who could earn himself a long term contract here or elsewhere. 16 games from Colon could go a long way towards solidifying the Jets offense line.
Antonio Garay – Defensive Tackle - A high-ceiling, depth signing who provides insurance if Kenrick Ellis isn’t ready to take on the full time starting nose tackle role. Garay has starting ability but again has issues staying on the field. He should be a prominent rotation player for the team even if he isn’t technically a starter.
Dawan Landry – Safety - Unlike the previously mentioned signings, Landry is exceptionally durable, starting every game the past four seasons. He will immediately step into the starting line-up at safety and should give the Jets a workmanlike, stable presence in the defensive backfield. He knows Rex Ryan’s defense and is a needed veteran in a position that will be flooded with second year players and draft picks.
Prior to the NFL Draft, Landry, Colon, Goodson, and Barnes all project as opening day starters. Even after the Draft, they’ll all likely be projected as starters. Garay should be a key rotational player on the defensive line and Garrard is a legitimate contender to be the starting quarterback. Considering the overall financial expenditure, that it isn’t a bad haul by GM John Idzik.