Vinny Testaverde and the Jets agreed to a contract extension that will make Testaverde the Jets QB for some time. Testaverde set a new club record, passing for 29 TD's, and led the Jets to an amazing 12-1 record as a starter. Backup Glen Foley has been traded for Seattle's 7th round pick, so the Jets will have to find a capable backup. In the meantime, athletic Ray Lucas will hold the No.2 spot and fight for the position in the pre-season.
Parcells claims that RB Curtis Martin was "good enough" but there is really some room for improvement. The organization feels that it needs to invest in a solid backup running back to spell Martin, who set a team record with 369 carries. Martin's backup wound up being veteran David Meggett. Meggett didn't offer much relief on downs, and will not likely return next season. Keith Byars handled the teams H-back duties. Byars, who is 35, will also likely retire. RB/special teams man Leon Johnson showed flashes but struggled in his second year, and missed the last four games. Backup FB Richie Anderson is a versatile "swing man" and is most useful as a pass-catcher.
Keyshawn Johnson made strides this past season towards establishing himself as an elite WR in the NFL. Wayne Chrebet was his typical efficient self, and was flawless on third downs. He always seems to make the big play, and compliment Johnson extremely well. Dedric Ward chipped in with some big plays and continues to improve his production each season. Alex Van Dyke was traded to Pittsburgh so quality depth is needed at the No.4 and No. 5 positions.
The team lost Kyle Brady to free agency, so it was forced to sign Eric Green. Green is aging and experiencing talent deterioration, but he may be a good fit in Parcell's system. Fred Baxter is a capable backup, but he needs to be more consistent in the passing game.
LOT Jumbo Elliot is nearing retirement, but is a solid veteran with excellent upper body strength. LG Todd Burger doesn't have much skill, but is a tough player and does a good job in pass pro. Center Kevin Mawae had a breakout season. Mawae, a blue-collar worker that uses his excellent quickness to frustrate opposing defensive tackles, is finally beginning to draw the praise that he deserves. Rookie RT Jason Fabini was one of the keys to the significant improvement on the offensive line. The mammoth OT looks like he has a pro-bowl career ahead of him. An area of concern on the Jet's offensive line is at RG, where Matt O'Dwyer has become an UFA. He constantly faces competition for the starting role, and may be expendable.
DE Rick Lyle started in all 16 games, but wasn't as productive in the pass rush as the team would have hoped. The team is looking to replace Lyle this off-season. At RDE, Anthony Pleasant experienced another solid NFL season and contributed heavily in pass rush situations with 6 sacks. Dorian Boose is the backup at defensive end, but was unable to make the kind of waves that were expected from this raw athletic pass rusher. The only UFA on this unit is NT Ernie Logan. He wound up starting 12 games and adding much needed depth, but his skills are diminishing. DT Jason Ferguson started all 16 games, and added a heavy pass rush from the inside. He is also a wide body that can stack at the point of attack versus the run. Parcells needs someone to emerge as the starting DT before the start of the season.
The Jets switched to a 3-4 scheme towards the end of the season, which threw some wrinkles into this unit. The veterans, Pepper Johnson and Bryan Cox, took care of things in the middle. The problem is that Johnson is not going to return and Cox is aging fast. The team has already begun addressing this position by signing the UFA Roman Phifer. At the outside positions, Mo Lewis was his usual self, and Chad Cascadden jumped into the picture, replacing the undersized James Farrior. Cascadden is a scrappy player that comes hard on the blitz. Farrior, who didn't fit into the new system, could be dealt before the draft to give the Jets a stronger pick.
The secondary was immediately upgraded with the signing of Steve Atwater. Atwater adds outstanding help in run defense and will bring leadership and successful experience. Aaron Glenn and Otis Smith will return in '99 and again start at the corners. Corwin Brown, who won the FS position in '98, and had an excellent season. His time may diminish with Atwater around, but he will continue to grow as player. Victor Green holds the SS position, and plays it more like a LB that a safety. Green comes up hard versus the run and is an outstanding wrap-up tackler. Ray Mickens also saw a great deal of time nickel packages and covers slot receivers as well as any corner in the league.
PK John Hall continued to show a strong leg, but needs to improve on his consistency. Hall missed 10 of 35 FGA's and also missed an extra point. The team has already addressed the punting situation by signing one of the league's top punters in Tom Tupa. David Meggett was called upon by coach Parcells to bring his experience to the playoffs as a returner. Meggett was a bit of a disappointment, and was less reliable than expected.