Chris Ivory 'not sure' if cap-strapped Jets will keep him

KAHUKU, Hawaii -- New York Jets running back Chris Ivory has been around long enough to understand the business side of football.

The 27-year-old, playing in his first Pro Bowl, is doing his best to soak up the atmosphere in Hawaii this week. His mom, aunt, fiancée and children are all there and, for the moment, it provides a certain conformation that the former undrafted rookie out of Tiffin College can play with the best of them.

But after the trip is over, the waiting game begins. He is a free agent in just a few weeks.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen," Ivory told Around The NFL Friday. "I would like to stay in New York if we reach an agreement. But I know the cap space they're working with and everything and the other guys they have to get signed or want to get signed back. But if it doesn't work out, I'm just looking forward to continuing my career elsewhere if it happens to go that way."

Ivory said he had conversations with Jets officials before departing, but continued to emphasize the team's allocation of funds. Regardless of the cap number for 2016, the Jets will likely be in the bottom third of the NFL in terms of space. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson likely will be franchised or earn a new mega-contract. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to be re-signed as well. Running back Bilal Powell, linebacker DeMario Davis and nose tackle Damon Harrison are among the team's top free agents, with Harrison likely commanding a deal near the top of the market.

"I was able to speak with them," Ivory said. "They want to bring me back but like I said, I think it's about the cap space. That's going to be the biggest factor as to whether I'm back or not."

Ivory earned his trip to Hawaii after a career-high 247 carries for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015. Ivory has never averaged fewer than four yards per carry in a season and is still among the league leaders in broken tackles. There were plenty of teams this year that suffered due to a lack of experienced downhill rushers, so Ivory shouldn't find himself waiting by the phone if the Jets end up balking.

"It's definitely steps forward that I've made, and that's what I feel you need to continue to do in this game in order to stick around," Ivory said. "Continue to be productive and continue to get better each year. I think I've done that and I'll continue to do that."

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