Ranking the Jets' free agents

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
10:35
AM ET
The New York Jets have 16 players headed to unrestricted free agency on March 11. Ranking them in order of their importance:

1. Austin Howard, right tackle -- The Jets are trying to sign him to a long-term extension before March 11. He figures to land a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million to $6 million a year. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan tweeted that Howard could get $7 million per year if he hits the open market.

[+] EnlargeJeff Cumberland
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsTight end Jeff Cumberland caught a pass in all but three games last season.
2. Jeff Cumberland, tight end -- The Jets have expressed interest in re-signing Cumberland, but the financials could be tricky. Do they see him as a No. 1 tight end or a solid No. 2? Cumberland, who played in 652 offensive snaps last season, wants to be paid like a starter.

3. Calvin Pace, linebacker -- There's mutual interest, but they can't re-sign him until free agency starts unless he agrees to another minimum-salary deal, per CBA rules. The reason is because the Jets received a minimum-salary cap benefit last season with Pace. However, in theory, the two sides can have a more lucrative agreement in place that could be quickly signed March 11.

4. Nick Folk, kicker -- By rule, he falls into the same category as Pace. After four consecutive one-year contracts, Folk deserves a long-term deal after a career year. Talks are ongoing.

5. Leger Douzable, defensive end -- He was an important backup last season, contributing 228 defensive snaps. The Jets would like to have him back, but they probably won't go much higher than a minimum salary.

6. Ellis Lankster, special teams -- The Jets want him back because he's a core special-teamer. Lankster may look around to see if there's a team willing to give him a shot at cornerback.

7. Willie Colon, guard -- His surgically repaired biceps will be ready for training camp, but it may not be with the Jets, who will consider in-house options and explore the free-agent market. Colon looks like a fallback.

8. Josh Mauga, linebacker -- He missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, but he's only 26 and the Jets are thin at inside linebacker. There's a chance he could return on a one-year deal.

9. Aaron Berry, cornerback -- He's coming off ACL surgery, never a good thing for a corner, but he flashed some potential before getting hurt. He could be a post-draft option.

10. Vladimir Ducasse, guard -- The former second-round pick has some talent, but he wasn't able to put it all together under three different line coaches. He's unlikely to return.

11. Ed Reed, safety -- Rex Ryan would take him back, but it's a long shot. He's not an every-down player anymore. He could be an emergency pickup down the road.

12. Josh Cribbs, kick returner -- He provided a brief spark last season, but he's coming off surgery for a torn pectoral muscle, and he'll be 31.

13. David Garrard, quarterback -- He was a good mentor for Geno Smith, but he's 36 with a bad knee. The Jets will look for a younger, more viable backup.

14. Lex Hilliard, fullback -- He's coming off shoulder surgery, but there's a chance he could be back. Tommy Bohanon didn't light it up.

15. Darius Reynaud, running back -- He had a late-season cup of coffee with the Jets. He's unlikely to return.

16. Kellen Winslow, tight end -- He will hit the market -- that's free agent, not Boston.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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