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The New York Jets should have enough resources to significantly improve the team in the offseason. We’re talking about a possible top-10 draft pick and a ton of cap room. Our question of the week focus on the latter.

22 Dec

Rich Cimini

Accepting questions for the Jets mailbag. Plenty on the table — Bowles, college bowls, QBs, the handling of Wilkerson, etc. Please use #jetsmail

Jeff Weinstein
#jetsmail Where do the Jets use the most cap space in the off season? The offensive line?
11:10 PM – Dec 22, 2017
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@RichCimini: Right now, they’re projected to have about $81 million in cap space for 2018, but that number will approach $100 million once they get done cutting veterans. Releasing Muhammad Wilkerson — a certainty — will open up $11 million in cap space.

I don’t think the Jets will blow through all the cap room because general manager Mike Maccagnan’s philosophy is to build through the draft. The No. 1 priority will be to re-sign their own free agents. They don’t have any big-ticket guys, but they have a handful of starters who will land medium-sized deals — namely Demario Davis, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Morris Claiborne. There’s also Josh McCown, who could return on a one-year contract if they want to go the bridge-quarterback route again.

You’re right, Jeff, the Jets need to upgrade the offensive line, especially center. Wesley Johnson isn’t the answer and he will be a free agent. Problem is, there isn’t an heir apparent on the roster and there are no sure-fire solutions on the free-agent market. The top guys will be Weston Richburg, Ryan Jensen and Russell Bodine. Any of those guys tickle your fancy?

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The Jets’ offensive-line situation reminds me of 1998, when Bill Parcells identified center as his No. 1 need. Fortunately for him, there was a center named Kevin Mawae on the free-agent market. Parcells gave Mawae the biggest contract in history for a center and — voila — the problem was solved for nearly a decade. Unfortunately for the Jets, I don’t see any Mawaes floating around out there.

Maccagnan hasn’t done well with mega-contracts (see: Darrelle Revis and Muhammad Wilkerson), so you have to wonder if he’ll be gun-shy in a high-stakes bidding war. Unless they make a strong push for Kirk Cousins, I can’t see the Jets doling out a top-of-the-market contract. But there is one name to watch: Demarcus Lawrence, who will be only 26 and has 13.5 sacks. You have to think the Dallas Cowboys will find a way to keep him. If not, he could be a target.

Another big need is cornerback, as the Jets have only two proven veteran corners under contract — Buster Skrine and Darryl Roberts. There could be some big names on the market (Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler), but I’d be surprised if they spend big money there. They have some young corners in the pipeline and it’s said to be a good draft for the position.

The Jets have the money to burn. It’ll be fascinating to see what they do with it.

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