On the face of it, the above question should be easy to answer. Go to any reputable reference site and you'll find a breakdown of how many pending free agents the Jets have to make decisions on.
Unfortunately, all the main sites seem to contradict one another in a few places. Therefore let's try and nail down the exact total here.
First of all, let's count up all the guys everyone seems to agree on:
- Unrestricted free agents/UFA (22) - Robby Anderson, Kelvin Beachum, Daniel Brown, Maurice Canady, Tom Compton, Brandon Copeland, Lachlan Edwards, David Fales, Neville Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Ryan Kalil, Alex Lewis, Albert McClellan, Rontez Miles, Ty Montgomery, Brian Poole, Bilal Powell, Brent Qvale, Brandon Shell, Trevor Siemian, Demaryius Thomas, Paul Worrilow
- Restricted free agents/RFA (2) - Arthur Maulet, James Burgess
- Exclusive rights free agents/ERFA (3) - Frankie Luvu, Sam Ficken, Bennett Jackson
Having checked through these, they all seem to be correct. Maulet and Burgess did each accrue a third season, Luvu, Jackson and Ficken were either first or second-year players and everyone else has accrued four seasons (or more).
For a moment, there was a thought that perhaps Brent Qvale's contract would have tolled because he spent most of the year on the injured list. You may recall that this happened to Rontez Miles a few years ago so he remained under contract. However, that rule only applies if you were on the PUP list and Qvale was on injured reserve.
Now we turn to the players about whom the various reference sites contradict one another. Four of these are players who were added to the roster right at the end of the season - Jeff Smith, Josh Malone, Ben Braden and Ross Travis. Wikipedia states that Braden and Smith are ERFA's and Travis and Malone are RFA's. That wouldn't actually be true in the case of Malone who would have been an ERFA despite the fact that Spotrac also lists him as an RFA.
In any case, OverTheCap.com (OTC) suggests that these four players were signed to deals that run through the 2020 season. That is usually the case with late-season signings because, although the money isn't guaranteed, it gives the player some protection in terms of the team covering their rehab in the event of an injury and will usually be requested by the player's agent. We'll assume that's correct and that these four players are not pending free agents.
Matthias Farley is another player who was signed to a contract by the Jets that some sites have assumed was a one-year deal but OTC again states this runs through 2020, even though it was signed back in August. So this again suggests he's not a pending free agent as many sources have stated him to be.
Finally, we have Leo Koloamatangi and BJ Bello, each of whom was added to the team in mid-November, presumably just before the point at which agents can demand a second year is tacked onto the deal. While both players are listed as RFAs on Spotrac - with Bello also listed as one on wikipedia - they should both be ERFA's because neither has accrued three seasons. In fact, Koloamatangi hasn't accrued any seasons yet.
Add those two to the 27 identified earlier and it looks like the Jets have 29 pending free agents, of which five are ERFA's and only two are RFA's. Remember ERFA's can be brought back for the minimum with no other team getting a chance to offer the player a contract, but RFA's can be tendered.
It'll be worth keeping a close eye on cap issues over the next few months because we're heading into the last year of the CBA which means there are some interesting rules that place restrictions on how much backloading teams can do and the structure of contracts that can be offered.
As for what the decisions on each of these players will be, we'll be debating that over the next several weeks.