The Jets are without a surefire quarterback option and are up against the cap going into the 2017 league year. But Gang Green looks to be attempting to keep some key role players.
Career swing tackle Ben Ijalana stepped into the Jets’ starting lineup last season after Ryan Clady went down, and the team is looking to retain the veteran, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reports. The Jets are also interested in re-signing UFA outside linebackers Josh Martin and Mike Catapano, per Cimini.
Martin may be a more pressing target than Catapano, with Cimini reporting the team is trying to reach an agreement with the special-teamer. The reporter adds that the former UDFA might want to test the market, though, in hopes of being able to compete for a linebacker job elsewhere.
New York could be without both starting tackles from the 2016 season. The team already passed on Ryan Clady‘s option and is expected to cut Breno Giacomini, who joined Clady on IR by season’s end. Ijalana cost just $840K on a one-year deal last year, but after making 13 starts should be more expensive due to demand, Cimini notes.
The Jets jettisoning Giacomini would save them $4.5MM but deprive them of their only tackle with significant starting experience. The 13 starts the 27-year-old Ijalana made double as the only ones in his six-year career, but the team is devoid of options heading into free agency. Clady could loom as a fallback option after the draft if the Jets are unable to land a suitable replacement, but it would be on a much cheaper deal. And it’s possible the 30-year-old Clady could be a mid-level target for another team, the now-injury-prone left tackle being a two-time first-team All-Pro.
Even after moving on from Clady, the Jets are projected to have less than $2MM in cap space. And they will likely add a veteran quarterback, being linked to Mike Glennon and Jay Cutler, so the team will have to create some additional cap space. But the free agents the team plans to retain won’t cost much.
Neither Martin nor Catapano will require a significant financial commitment, with both being career backups. Both finished up their four-year rookie contracts last season. The Jets still have Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Mauldin under contract. Fellow linebacker Bruce Carter also looms as a UFA, but Cimini notes there’s no urgency to get a deal done since Carter is likely looking at a veteran-minimum deal. The former Cowboys starter is entering his age-29 season.