(Sports Network) - Age and lack of speed finally caught up to the Jets last season. New York missed the playoffs for the first time in three years because it could not stop the run. Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell paid with his job. Replacement Donnie Henderson will have the benefit of having a more experienced Dewayne Robertson, last year's first-round pick who was an immediate starter.
Wide receiver Wayne Chrebet's future is uncertain after being sidelined with the lingering effects of a concussion. The Jets desperately need a big receiver to pair with Santana Moss, who went from bust to boom last season with 10 touchdowns. The Jets will snare their receiver in April's receiver- heavy draft. The Jets select 12th and the wideout spot is the deepest position in the draft. The entry of underclassmen Larry Fitzgerald and Mike Williams will push a quality receiver down to the Jets' slot.
New York needs help at guard. Brent Smith started there last season after never having played the position before. New York will want to upgrade over Smith and veteran Dave Szott. There is a deep class of free agent guards that would let the Jets upgrade over last season's starters. Oakland's Brad Badger and Matt Stinchcomb, veterans Chris Villarrial and Ray Brown are among the many that would be solid starters without breaking the bank.
The Jets were raided in free agency by the Redskins prior to the 2003 season. They lost Laveranues Coles and return man Chad Morton when they could not match offers from Washington. That will focus a lot of attention on what the Jets do with tackle Kareem McKenzie, whom the Jets would like to lock in to a long-term deal.
Both kicker Doug Brien and punter Dan Stryzinski are free agents. New York will look to upgrade both positions. The Jets are limited in going after other teams' free agents because their best players are a year shy of free agency. New York will have to pay eight-figure bonuses to quarterback Chad Pennington and DE Shaun Ellis. If former Pro Bowl DE John Abraham makes a successful transition back to linebacker, the Jets would look to retain him next year too.
If the Jets can shake some free agent money loose this year, look for them to make a run at a pair of Ravens. Henderson has seen RFA Ed Hartwell and UFA Adalius Thomas up close and either would be a huge help at linebacker. Thomas is coming off of a season ending injury.
KEY UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OG-Brent Smith, C-J.P. Machado, WR-Kevin Lockett, DT-Chester McGlockton, K-Doug Brien, P-Dan Stryzinski.
KEY RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OT-Kareem McKenzie, WR-Kevin Swayne, DT-James Reed, LB-Jason Glenn, LB-Kenyatta Wright, LB-Quincy Stewart, CB-Jamie Henderson.