Reaching into the New York Jets' mailbag for our question of the week:
— Sean Walsh (@WalshNYJets) January 29, 2016
@RichCimini: Yo! It all starts with the quarterback. The Jets have to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, and I believe they will get that done before the start of free agency. Both sides appear motivated and that's always a good sign. There's no heir apparent on the roster, so they have to get it done. I expect a three- or four-year deal that averages somewhere between $8 million and $10 million per year, with at least $12 million in guarantees.
From all indications, Wilkerson will get the franchise tag, which will cost close to $16 million for one year. Obviously, that will eat up a lot of valuable cap space, so it behooves the Jets to sign him to a long-term deal (lowering his cap charge for 2016). If they can't get that done, they have to be prepared to operate with a limited amount of cap space, which would mean some decisions. It could mean losing Harrison, who will command significant interest if he hits the open market. Todd Bowles really wants to keep his nose tackle, the anchor of his 3-4 defense. No doubt, there will be some interesting conversations behind closed doors at One Jets Drive. I wouldn't be shocked if they dangle Wilkerson as trade bait, seeing what he could fetch in a tag-and-trade scenario.
As for the second part of your question, the Jets appear ready to turn the page on Demario Davis. They've already started negotiations with Erin Henderson, according to NJ.com, which means Davis likely will hit the open market. It's hardly a surprise, considering Davis' reduced role over the final few games. I don't see Calvin Pace returning, either. He's had a nice run, but the team wants to improve its front-seven speed, and a 35-year-old linebacker doesn't help the cause.
I'd also be surprised if Chris Ivory returns. I don't think the organization is down on him or anything -- he's coming off his best year -- but he'll be 28 and running backs with his punishing style tend to decline quickly. This is Ivory's first bite at the free-agent apple and you can bet he's looking to make a big score, more than $4 million per year. I think they'll let him test the market to gauge his value. If the price gets too high, they'll let him walk, re-sign Bilal Powell and sign a cheaper version of Ivory.
Let's remember: This isn't 2015, when the Jets had a bottomless well in cap space. The 2016 Jets are operating on a tight budget, which means some good players will walk out the door.