Ed Reed provided a spark to the team late in the season as they hoped to reach the playoffs. His play has declined over the last few seasons, but the veteran has proven to be a valuable asset in mentoring young players. Despite his off-field value, the Jets need a young playmaker that can be a franchise-player in their secondary to get the defense back on track.
The New York Jets have an opportunity to reevaluate their entire roster early in the offseason, due to an early exit to the season. General manager John Idzik will be assessing his team to see where he needs to make personnel moves. With many contracts coming off the books this year, and some pink slips to be handed out, it is hard to speculate which players will be returning.
One player that the Jets need to consider keeping is Ed Reed. The veteran safety signed a one-year contract a little more than half-way through the season in 2013 and he provided a spark to the team down the stretch. His production on the field has slipped but he is very valuable in role positions. Reed can play in passing situations, where he is most vital as a threat to get an interception on any pass. Since Reed would be due to sign an extension, Idzik needs to take his off-field value into heavy consideration. His knowledge of the game has allowed him to mentor many young players over his career, especially with the Jets.
However, the Jets will definitely have to adjust their secondary, as it did not fare well against the pass. Finishing No. 22 in the league, it allowed nearly 4,000 yards through the air. Compared to finishing a No. 2 overall finish in 2012, the lack of playmakers in the secondary has stunted the growth of this defense. Bringing in Reed this season was a good move, but it is time to say good-bye to the vet in hopes of signing a franchise player to play center field next season.
If the Jets choose to release Reed, they will save more money to go after one of these young, talented safeties. This year's free agent pool is stocked full of great talent, including names such as Jairus Byrd, Malcolm Jenkins, and T.J. Ward. Also, top safety prospects in this year's draft, such as Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, can be another viable option as Idzik has a lot of money and draft picks to address the secondary.
If Idzik chooses not to bring back Reed, Antonio Allen is not a bad replacement. Allen has proven that he can lock down tight ends, shutting down both Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham this past season. Opposite of Allen would be Dawan Landry. Landry signed a two-year contract last year, giving him one more year. He provided great play throughout the season, racking up a total of 100 tackles, finishing third most on the team.
New York should look for another option at safety as the money to sign an aging Reed can be valuable in signing a younger playmaker. If the Jets cannot execute on signing a big named player, look for them to draft a top prospect and to bring back Reed for another year