As the New York Jets prepare for free agency there will be several critical questions at prominent positions that will have to be answered by general manager Mike Maccagnan. One of those groups is in the Jets offensive backfield as Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Stevan Ridley are all scheduled to become free agents.
Show him the money?
Normally, when you have one of the league’s leading rushers it would be a no-brainer to resign the ball carrier. But with Ivory his contract demands, age, injury concerns, and career carries (883) make this a difficult decision for the Jets’ front office. Do you pay Chris $4-5 million a year? Or do you pursue younger, cheaper options?
Diamond in the rough?
Bilal Powell emerged as a dynamic threat late in the season, leaving many to wonder about his capabilities within a healthy 16-game season. At 27 years old Powell does not have the same wear and tear as Ivory and appears to be a multi-purpose back that should remain valuable in Chan Gailey’s offense. In terms of a contract Bilal could potentially come back at half the price of Ivory which almost makes this an easy decision for the Jets.
Potential free agents
There are a few big name running backs that could hit the open market including Matt Forte, Doug Martin, and Lamar Miller. Of the three Lamar Miller is the most intriguing as he is a versatile back that can produce as a pass catcher as well. The drawback with Miller will be his contract as several teams will be bidding on his services if he hits free agency.
Some other free agent options for the Jets: Chris Polk, Bobby Rainey, Jacquizz Rodgers, Dan Herron, Travaris Cadet
Just draft one?
If you are a believer in the “running backs are a dime a dozen” philosophy then the draft would be a resource to use to find your next feature ball carrier. There are several intriguing prospects in this year’s draft including Ezekiel Elliot, Derrick Henry, Devontae Booker, and Alex Collins. The challenge here is not reaching for a running back when you have other areas of need to address i.e. offensive line, linebacker.
Tough call for Maccagnan
It will be fascinating to watch Maccagnan handle the running back group as you can make a good argument to take the cheaper approach at this position in an effort to save money for areas like the offensive line and linebackers as well as trying to retain other valuable free agents.