Former longtime general manager Bill Polian, in his current role as an ESPN analyst, provides his insight into the offseason with a free-agency tracker. He evaluates and grades every free agent, using a specific grading method:
A: $6+ million AAV (annual average value), 3+ years guaranteed money
B: $2 million-$6 million AAV, 2 years or fewer guaranteed money
C: $2 million or less AAV, 2 years or fewer guaranteed money
D: Minimum salary, 1 year contract
Polian isn't particularly bullish on the New York Jets' free agents, with the exception of tight end Jeff Cumberland, whom he gave a B grade. Based on Polian's rating system, the Jets got a great deal for Cumberland, who re-signed for $3.7 million over three years. Essentially, he got paid like a No. 2 tight end. Polian's take on Cumberland:
A former college wide receiver, Cumberland has filled out his frame enough to become a move tight end who can be flexed out and detached from the line of scrimmage. He has good straight-line speed to stretch the seam and extend the field vertically. He is a work in progress as a blocker who can be a useful No. 2 tight end who can improve the passing attack in the red zone with his good catch radius. He's not an ideal starter, but he also won't be a detriment to an offense. An improving player.
Only two free agents are worthy of a C, according to Polian -- kicker Nick Folk and right tackle Austin Howard. The Jets overpaid for Folk, per the rating system, and they could be on the verge of doing the same for Howard. Polian's take on Folk, who received the franchise tag ($3.6 million):
After clinging to his job for each of his first three seasons in New York, Folk broke out with the best season of his career in 2013. He showed exceptional accuracy and leg strength, hitting a 54-yard field goal during the season. A starting-level kicker who has connected on over 80 percent of his career kicks.
Polian on Howard, who will land a deal in the coming days (whether it's with the Jets or another team) that will pay him twice as much as the 'C' grade:
Howard made strides during the 2013 regular season, improving as a full-time starter for the Jets as a right tackle. He has a massive frame and wingspan, as he entered the NFL at nearly 350 pounds (he has since trimmed down). Howard can struggle with quickness from opposing edge rushers but is sufficient as a space player and can be a starting right tackle. He should continue to improve.