Picking the Ideal Free Agent to Fill Each of the New York Jets' Holes

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IFebruary 13, 2014

Picking the Ideal Free Agent to Fill Each of the New York Jets' Holes

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    With over $30 million in projected cap space and a front office that is intent on building a contender, the New York Jets will be among the most active teams in the upcoming free-agency periods. 

    The Jets have a young quarterback capable of making big plays, as well as a ferocious defensive front and a fiery head coach, but they need several additions to be taken seriously in 2014 and beyond. 

    Gang Green has serious holes in the receiving corps and in the secondary, so expect general manager John Idzik to do whatever's necessary to improve those areas. 

    Click through to see which free agents would be ideal fits for New York's need positions. 

Third-Down Running Back: Joique Bell

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    Joique Bell will be hard to pry away from Detroit, as Bell is a huge part of the Lions' passing game and is only a restricted free agent. 

    However, New York should place Bell among their top priorities in March, given the team's need for a third-down running back and offensive playmaker. 

    Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell formed a dynamic duo late last year, but neither player is an especially good receiver or blocker. 

    Bell has caught over 50 passes in each of the last two years, along with 11 touchdowns. He would become the player the Jets thought they'd gotten when they signed Mike Goodson last offseason and would immediately upgrade Gang Green's offense. 

No. 1 Wide Receiver: Jeremy Maclin

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    Jeremy Maclin and the New York Jets go together like peas and carrots. 

    The team's in desperate need of an explosive wideout, and Maclin is just that—a dangerous deep-threat with top-notch speed and elusiveness. He's just 25 years old, and he spent four years in Marty Mornhinweg's offensive system with the Philadelphia Eagles

    The Jets have to be considered the favorites to snag the Missouri product, especially after Manish Mehta of the Daily News reported the team's intense interest in Maclin. 

    With Santonio Holmes likely gone in a matter of weeks and Stephen Hill's failure to develop into a top target, Gang Green needs a premier target. 

    Expect general manager John Idzik and Co. to do whatever it takes to get Maclin to New York this offseason. 

No. 2 Wide Receiver: Hakeem Nicks

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    New York's receiving corps is so weak that the team needs to sign two top-notch free-agent wideouts. 

    Hakeem Nicks would be the best option outside of Maclin, given his immense talent and inexpensive price tag. Nicks is capable of being one of the best receivers in the game. He possesses an elite combination of size and athleticism, and he's a freight train in the open field. 

    However, Nicks' value has dropped immensely in recent years, as he's dealt with a series of injuries and inconsistencies. 

    The North Carolina product failed to go over 900 yards in each of the last two seasons, and he's scored just three times over that span. 

    However, Nicks is just 26 and has time to return to his old Pro Bowl-caliber production. The Jets would be taking a gamble by signing him, but the reward far outweighs the risk. 

Safety: T.J. Ward

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    Gang Green's secondary really struggled last season, and it wasn't just because of the departure of Darrelle Revis and the struggles of Antonio Cromartie and rookie Dee Milliner. 

    New York's safeties were subpar all year long, especially in coverage. They allowed big games to a variety of tight ends and slot receivers. 

    For the Jets defense emerge as one of the NFL's elite, the team needs to significantly upgrade the safety position.

    T.J. Ward would be the perfect man to improve New York's secondary. 

    Ward emerged as one of the league's premier safeties last year, as he was terrific in coverage and was a phenomenal open-field tackler. 

    The 27-year-old Pro Bowler will only continue to improve, and while it'll be tough for the Jets to pry the Oregon product away from the Cleveland Browns, the team has the money and the motivation to do so. 

Cornerback: Walter Thurmond

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    As previously stated, New York's cornerback play dropped off significantly last season. 

    While Dee Milliner is a strong bet to improve, Antonio Cromartie is a likely goner and needs to be replaced. 

    Walter Thurmond would be an affordable, yet terrific option to take Cromartie's place. 

    Thurmond was a crucial component of the Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom last year, as he was outstanding in coverage and consistently made big plays.

    The 26-year-old will probably be looking for a starting job this offseason, and the Jets would be smart to give the former fourth-round pick that chance. 

    Thurmond would bring a tough, hard-nosed presence to the Jets secondary.