Front Runner: Josh Bush
The Jets are slim at the free safely position and lack a true leader to quarterback their secondary. There will be a battle in the backend of the secondary until the end of the preseason. Rex Ryan is forced to pick between the lesser of two evils at free safety. Josh Bush is the front runner leading up to training camp, but is far from a sure thing to lock down the starting job.
If Bush wants to lead the depth chart he will have to perform like a veteran instead of a second year player who saw limited snaps last season. Most of Bush's action on the field came with the special teams unit. Bush struggles against the run and is more of a deep safety, which could be beneficial since recently signed Dawan Landry is built to play in the box. Without a better option on the roster Bush's job is his to lose.
In the Hunt: Antonio Allen
Antonio Allen Is going to have a solid opportunity to prove himself during the preseason. Neither Bush or Allen are proven in the NFL so it's virtually a coin flip to see who will be the starting free safety for Gang Green. Both players have big shoes to fill from last season. Last year's starter Yeremiah Bell went under the radar on his way to an impressive season. Bell finished with 89 combined tackles, which was good enough for third on the team.
The Jets selected Allen in the seventh round of last year's draft after he enjoyed a good career at South Carolina University. Allen was a non-factor last season because the Green and White rarely used him. Allen did start one game last season and finished the year with six combined tackles and one sack. The young Jet will be making the switch from strong safety, in order to find a role for 2013.
Darkhorse: Bret Lockett
Lockett is considered the "dark horse" simply because he is the upstart on the roster, but he could be eliminated from the equation if the Jets recruit a veteran free agent. There are some appetizing names still on the market that could improve Gang Greens defense tremendously. Former Jets Eric Smith and Kerry Rhodes are still available and looking for a home. Smith would have to take a pay cut like his former teammate Calvin Pace decided to do. Rhodes could be a top 10 safety in the league if he performs they way he is capable of. Madieu Williams is also still available and could be a safe fit for the Jets' defense.
Lockett, like the other free safeties, is unproven. He has never been given a full chance to play ever since Lockett signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Injuries have proven to be his downfall, but the Jets signed the struggling safety in January to add depth to the position. Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff have a tough decision to make this summer as free safety is just one of the many positions in dire need of answers in 2013.