After finishing 10-6 and second to the New England Patriots in the AFC East last season, New York Jets second-year head coach Todd Bowles will welcome 16 returning starters, including nine on offense, when the team reports for training camp July 27.
But as of this writing (July 19), the biggest news is about one starter not yet counted as returning -- quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last word was the deal on the table for Fitzpatrick and agent Jimmy Sexton is worth over $10 million in 2016 and roughly $24 million over the next three years with limited guarantees beyond this season.
Fitzpatrick wants more and figures if the Jets don't give it to him, some other team will as soon as a starting quarterback is injured somewhere in the league. The Jets' fallback is Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and, just to stir the pot with fervor, controversial second-round draftee Christian Hackenberg.
So, even if Fitzpatrick does sign, the situation at quarterback could be fluid.
Here is a closer look at the newcomers and key players and how they should factor into the Jets 2016 team:
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
SITE, LOCATION, ROOKIES, VETERANS
Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Florham Park, NJ, 7/27, 7/27
COACH: Todd Bowles
2nd season as Jets/NFL head coach
2015 RECORD: 10-6
DIVISIONAL RECORD: 3-3
16; 9 offense, 7 defense, kicker, punter
OFFSEASON STANDOUT: Inside linebacker Erin Henderson.
--Henderson revived his career last year and appears ready to vault into the starting lineup this season. Henderson, who played six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before sitting out the 2014 season following a pair of drunken driving arrests, emerged as a key rotation piece in 2015. The Jets entrusted him with a bigger role by allowing Demario Davis to leave as a free agent and Henderson, who signed a two-year deal worth $3.1 million in March, responded with an inspired performance during OTAs and minicamp in which he became the defense's vocal leader.
The draft -- A closer look at the Jets' picks (7):
--Round 1/20 - Darron Lee, LB, 6-1, 232, Ohio State
The Jets needed to add speed to an aging and slow linebacker corps. In the athletic and versatile Lee, they hope to have found a sideline-to-sideline roamer who can eventually take over for veteran David Harris. Lee played outside linebacker at Ohio State, where he racked up 11 sacks in two seasons, but the Jets believe Lee - who played quarterback and safety in high school - will transition easily to an inside role. Lee, who doesn't turn 22 until October, is the second straight redshirt sophomore taken in the first round by general manager Mike Maccagnan, who opened his first draft by selecting then-20-year-old Leonard Williams out of Southern Cal.
--Round 2/51 - Christian Hackenberg, QB, 6-4, 228, Penn State
Can a draft - indeed, a general manager's tenure - be determined by a second-round pick? Few players are as polarizing as Hackenberg, who was touted by some last year as the potential top pick in the class of 2016. But he absorbed 38 sacks as a junior and didn't impress teams during the pre-draft process. Hackenberg was scattershot at best while throwing during the Combine and reportedly raised eyebrows by blaming Penn State head coach James Franklin for his struggles during interviews with teams. But he has the prototypical size for a quarterback and thrived as a freshman under current Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien. If Hackenberg clicks under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, he could finally be the franchise quarterback the Jets have been looking for since Joe Namath. If not, it's a costly whiff. He looked as raw as expected during minicamp, which means a "redshirt" season is all but assured.
Can a draft - indeed, a general manager's tenure - be determined by a second-round pick? Few players are as polarizing as Hackenberg, who was touted by some last year as the potential top pick in the class of 2016. But he absorbed 38 sacks as a junior and didn't impress teams during the pre-draft process. Hackenberg was scattershot at best while throwing during the Combine and reportedly raised eyebrows by blaming Penn State head coach James Franklin for his struggles during interviews with teams. But he has the prototypical size for a quarterback and thrived as a freshman under current Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien. If Hackenberg clicks under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, he could finally be the franchise quarterback the Jets have been looking for since Joe Namath. If not, it's a costly whiff.
--Round 3/83 - Jordan Jenkins, OLB, 6-3, 259, Georgia
Last season, the Jets were so bereft of pass-rushers that Calvin Pace drew more snaps than any other outside linebacker and defensive end Sheldon Richardson ended the season by lining up at outside linebacker. The Jets hope Jenkins, who had 19 sacks in four seasons at Georgia, can team with 2015 third-round pick Lorenzo Mauldin to bring the type of pressure that has been lacking since the Rex Ryan Era.
--Round 4/118 - Juston Burris, CB, 6-0, 212, North Carolina State
Cornerback looked like the Jets' strongest position entering last season, but Darrelle Revis' play dropped off, Antonio Cromartie looked washed up and Dee Milliner once again couldn't stay on the field. At the least, Burris adds someone who can contribute on special teams as a rookie. Down the road, he could be the long-term replacement for Revis or a potential partner for third-year surprise Marcus Williams.
--Round 5/158 - Brandon Shell, T, 6-5, 324, South Carolina
The Jets sent a 2017 fourth-round pick to the Washington Redskins to finally address their aging offensive line. In Shell, they found someone with Hall-of-Fame bloodlines - he is the nephew of Oakland Raiders legend Art Shell - and plenty of experience at both tackle positions. He could push the underwhelming Breno Giacomini at right tackle this summer.
--Round 7/235 - Lachlan Edwards, P, 6-4, 209, Sam Houston State
The Australian native, who averaged 41.5 yards per punt last season at FCS Sam Houston State, is the first punter drafted by the Jets in 23 years. But the Jets wasted no time adding competition in the form of fellow Australian Tom Hackett, who was signed as a free agent out of Utah shortly after the draft.
--Round 7/241 - Charone Peake, WR, 6-2, 209, Clemson
Peake has been clocked at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, but has a history of knee injuries, including a torn ACL he suffered in 2013. Could be a sleeper for a team whose top two receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, turned 32 years old and 29 years old, respectively, in March.
--TE Brandon Bostick: Suffered infamous dropped onside kick in 2014 NFC Championship Game; will vie for blocking duties.
--LB Bruce Carter: Buccaneers free-agent bust looking to serve as a bridge to Darron Lee at inside linebacker.
--T Ryan Clady: Replacing durable D'Brickashaw Ferguson; missed Broncos' Super Bowl run with torn ACL.
--RB Matt Forte: Plenty of mileage, but has enough left to serve as a Thomas Jones-esque No. 1 back.
--DE Shelby Harris: Will compete for spot in the rotation.
--DE Jarvis Jenkins: Ex-Redskin and ex-Bear has six sacks in four seasons; won't vie for starting gig.
--NT Steve McLendon: Has to fill big shoes of Damon Harrison after six sturdy seasons with the Steelers.
--RB Khiry Robinson: Was impressive in brief bursts with Saints in 2013-14; coming back from broken leg.
--WR Kyle Williams: Has bounced around and had injury issues, but will ty and challenge as a kick erturner.
KEY LOSS: NT Damon Harrison (16/16)
--Harrison was a terrific success story as an undrafted free agent out of William Penn, a NAIA school. Now he's cashed in and the Jets have to hope their top-ranked rush defense won't suffer.
--CB Antonio Allen (0/0), DE Stephen Bowen (15/1), K Randy Bullock (11/0), G Willie Colon (6/6), CB Antonio Cromartie (15/15), TE Jeff Cumberland (15/6), LB Demario Davis (16/16), DE Leger Douzable (16/2), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (16/16), RB Chris Ivory (15/14), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (4/0), WR Jeremy Kerley (16/1), LB Jamari Lattimore (15/0), WR Chris Owusu (3/2), LB Calvin Pace (16/12), RB Stevan Ridley (8/1), CB Darrin Walls (13/0)*
*Number in parentheses is games played/games started in 2015
Total games played/started lost: 216/102
-- Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 26th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX's network of NFL insiders provided information for this report.