With the 2013 season in the books, it's time to turn our attention to 2014.
February is a critical month because it involves prep for free agency, the scouting combine and, ultimately, the draft. On Monday, the waiver period opened, meaning teams can start cutting players. Basically, this is when teams lay the groundwork for the upcoming season. As New York Jets general manager John Idzik explained, "There are a lot of sticks in the fire right now."
Idzik said the Jets have completed their roster evaluation. We did our own evaluation, ranking the players from 1 to 25, basing it on a variety of factors -- 2013 performance, positional value, salary-cap status and potential.
Our top 25, starting with the bottom five:
21. Mark Sanchez, quarterback, (cap charge: $13.1 million): He played poorly in 2012 and missed 2013 due to shoulder surgery, but Sanchez still has value because of his position and his résumé. He's 33-29 as a starter, plus four playoff wins. Because of supply-and-demand at quarterback, he can't be dismissed. Sanchez probably is done in New York, but he will have suitors.
22. Antonio Allen, safety, (cap charge: $570,000): The former seventh-round pick made terrific strides in his second season, especially in pass coverage. He was essentially a "Sam" linebacker in college, which required a major transition. Barring a significant acquisition, Allen is a likely starter. He must continue to improve his awareness in coverage, especially in zones.
23. Nick Folk, placekicker, (cap charge: Free agent): Folk withstood a training-camp challenge -- so what is new? -- and enjoyed a career year. His mechanics have improved considerably, although he still lacks an explosive leg on kickoffs. He's not an elite kicker, but he's certainly in the top five to 10. Folk wants a long-term deal. The Jets aren't known for paying their kickers, so it'll be interesting to see if they let him test the market.
24. Willie Colon, guard, (cap charge: Free agent): He did a credible job at right guard, replacing stalwart Brandon Moore. Colon led the team in penalties, but he did a solid job in the running game. He caught a bad break in the final game, tearing a biceps and requiring surgery. Obviously, that will hurt his bargaining position. He'll be a fallback option for the Jets, who hope William Campbell or Oday Aboushi can step into a starting role in Year 2.
25. Stephen Hill, wide receiver, (cap charge: $718,000): Hill makes the list because he's a former second-round pick, which carries value. But make no mistake, the scholarship is over. After two disappointing seasons, both of which ended with him on injured reserve, Hill's place on the team no longer is a guarantee.