Following their third straight season without a playoff appearance, the New York Jets are making big moves before free agency starts this week. They already cut All-Pro cornerback, Antonio Cromartie; creating nearly $10 million in cap space. Quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes may also be on the chopping block due to high salary cap numbers. With a talented but unproven Geno Smith at the helm, the Jets are looking to improve their defense and rushing game in an attempt to lessen the load on Smith. According to draft analyst, Tony Pauline, the Jets are hoping to keep Smith "under 20 passes per game." Would drafting newly released running back Darren Sproles provide the boost that the Jets need to make it to the postseason?
With a year still left on his contract, running back Darren Sproles was one of the more influential players to be released by the Saints this offseason. Following his third straight year with 600+ receiving yards, Sproles is sure to attract more than a couple of suitors. Even at the age of 30, Sproles' ability to find gaps and cut to the outside makes him a viable weapon in the backfield.
With 1,273 all purpose yards last year, Sproles performance has steadily declined since his record setting 2011 season in which he totaled an astounding 2,696 yards. However, with his great speed and cutting ability, Sproles still remains a highly effective back. With the current combination of Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory in the backfield, would signing Sproles be an effective or excessive move for the Jets?
Powell and Ivory, who rushed for over 1,500 yards out of the 2,158 team total, led the Jets to be the sixth best rushing team in the league. On the other hand, adding Sproles to their lineup would undoubtedly benefit their subpar passing game, (No. 31 passing team in NFL) and provide a reliable target for the inexperienced Geno Smith. Taking into account his increasing age and undeniable talent, signing Darren Sproles is a move that could go either way for the Jets. With his speed and versatility, Sproles could be the weapon that Geno Smith and the Jets need to take their offense to another level. With a decent amount of available cap space the Jets could easily take the gamble on Sproles and see if it pays off. Worst-case scenario, they add a reliable return man to a special teams unit that didn't score a touchdown throughout the entire 2012 season.