With NFL free agency just around the corner here is a look at some players that could be on the cut list for the New York Jets.
DL Muhammad Wilkerson
Cap Savings: $11m
When Muhammad Wilkerson was selected by the Jets in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he brought plenty of promise to the franchise. Through the 2015 season, he did nothing but fulfill that potential recording strong totals of 184 tackles and 36.5 sacks. He was easily the team’s best defensive player in 2015 with 64 total tackles and 12 sacks. Wilkerson earned himself a massive contract extension the following offseason, and with that, his Pro-Bowl caliber level of play went out the window. His stats, health, and effort have all been on the decline for the past few seasons making the possibility of him playing elsewhere in 2018 increasingly likely. Being that general manager, Mike Maccagnan, designed the contract extension, so that the Jets can get out of it nearly scot-free this offseason, it would make absolutely zero sense to keep Wilkerson around. His cap hit would be in the range of eighteen to twenty million dollars in each of the three remaining seasons he has on his contract while Wilkerson’s play and effort of late wouldn’t even warrant ten million a year. He had a good run, but the decision here is clear, especially after being deactivated late in the season, Mo Wilkerson needs to go.
RB Matt Forte
Cap Savings: $3m
Matt Forte established himself as one of the better dual-threat running backs of all time in his eight outstanding seasons with the Chicago Bears. With that, of course, came sky-high expectations from many Jets fans when he joined the team on a three year, twelve million dollar deal during the 2015 offseason. Forte’s Jets tenure started out with a bang in 2016, but as time went on, Jets fans were left more and more disappointed. In his two seasons in green and white (thus far), he’s averaged 3.7 yards per carry, and has failed to reach the 300 receiving yards mark in each season. This is the same player who caught a record-setting 102 passes for 808 yards in 2014. Also, as many feared, health has been a major concern. Lingering injuries have been hampering Forte’s game since he left Chicago. He played 14 games in 2016 and 12 games in 2017 with lower body injuries nagging him tremendously. With numbers to back it up, it’s impossible to deny that he has declined and will almost surely continue to do so. Forte may very well find himself in Canton someday, but unfortunately, his time with the Jets will be an afterthought. It’s time to part ways.
QB Christian Hackenberg
Cap Savings: $476,336
In the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jets general manager, Mike Maccagnan, made what was almost definitely his boldest move to this point. He drafted quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, out of Penn State. In the 2016 draft prospect pool, Hackenberg was extremely polarizing. After a stellar freshman season as a Nittany Lion, Hackenberg went on to struggle in his sophomore and junior years. Hackenberg always displayed physical and mental ability. However, he had glaring mechanical flaws and accuracy issues convincing most that he was more of a mid-round caliber player. Two years later, it seems as if everyone could be wrong. Hackenberg has yet to see a regular season snap which indicates that his development has been minimal. He’s hasn’t given the Jets much more production than any fan has. Seeing that Hackenberg doesn’t appear even close to ready for his next shot, it makes the most sense to move in a different direction at the position. It’s not about cap savings, but Gang Green doesn’t have time to keep waiting on another project. Maccagnan and company must find a sure-fire franchise quarterback.
QB Bryce Petty
Cap Savings: $705,000
Before the Hackenberg selection, Maccagnan selected quarterback Bryce Petty out of Baylor in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. After a redshirt season in 2015, Petty had to wait for his chance to play in 2016. He ended up starting in 6 games and posting a completion percentage of 56.4% with 809 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. This obviously left fans pessimistic, but with only Josh McCown being added to the quarterback room in the following offseason, Petty was given another chance with the team. He failed to win the starting quarterback job and once again had to wait for his chance to play. A season-ending hand injury for McCown, gave Petty the opportunity to play in four games, starting in three. He had a dismal completion percentage of 49.1 with 544 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. With those numbers, Petty has failed to prove that he can even be a reliable backup at this point in his career. He’s gotten his fair shake with the team, and it’s time for Maccagnan and Bowles to move on. They can also look to add another inexpensive player elsewhere with the money they’ll save.