FAs Maybin, Leonhard hope to return

LB Aaron Maybin enjoyed a breakout season for the Jets in 2011 after being picked up off the scrap heap.

The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent, but would like to stay with Gang Green.

“I’m hoping something keeps me here, but at the end of the day, we’ll see,” Maybin said Monday.

The third-year pro finished with 11 tackles, six sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 games.

Asked why he was able to have so much success in New York after two miserable seasons in Buffalo, Maybin responded, “Opportunity.”

• S Jim Leonhard has played the last two years with the Jets. And each of those two years, he’s suffered a season-ending injury.

Leonhard is an unrestricted free agent, and also would like to return.

“I think I’m hopeful [to return] just for the fact that I’ve enjoyed my time here. But you never know,” said Leonard, who was sporting crutches. “That’s the one thing I’ve learned in this business is you never assume anything, and I pride myself on playing with a lot of heart and having those intangibles, and I think that fits in any locker room.”

The 29-year-old finished the season with 48 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. But he missed the last three games after being injured against Kansas City in Week 14, and the Jets lost them all.

• NT Sione Pouha, who had 58 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and will be a free agent, said he's going to meet with his agents later Monday to find out what the process is going into the offseason.

“Most definitely,” Pouha said when asked if he'd like to return. “Jets have always been great to me. They’re the ones that gave me my first opportunity.”

• KR Joe McKnight became a special teams weapon in 2011.

The 23-year-old finished with a 31.6 yards per kickoff return average and a 107-yard touchdown. He was named as a second alternate to the Pro Bowl.

“It’d mean a lot,” McKnight said of getting the opportunity to play in Hawaii. “I’m just looking forward to it, and I hope it happens.”

Still, McKnight thinks there’s a lot he can improve on.

“I think I left a couple yards on the field. I kind of got a little heavy this year. I kind of put too much weight on,” McKnight said. “I just want to stay in-tune with everything. I muffed punts, so I’m just gonna work on catching them in the offseason. I know [PR] is Jeremy Kerley’s job, but if something happens to him, I want to step up and fill in that role for him until he gets back.”

McKnight hopes his mentor, RB LaDainian Tomlinson comes back. But that appears unlikely, meaning McKnight may see an expanded role in the backfield next season.

“I just tried to prove everyone wrong,” McKnight replied when asked why he was so successful in 2011. “I don’t think I proved everyone wrong, but at least I tried.”

Information from ESPN NewYork.com's Jane McManus was used in this blog post.