The New York Jets started their season with many losses in a row, 13-straight losses before a win against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Rams. Their offense struggled to score regardless of their position and the defense could hold anything put in the backfield. This all led to a 2-14 finish with many holes and more to come barring any drastic decisions in free agency.
Pending Free Agents
New York officially has 24 free agents going into the offseason. With $67.9 million to spend, the Jets are in line to be the second-highest in terms of cap space in the league. Despite this, the Jets have not been great about re-signing players. In the last offseason, they handed many prove-it deals that didn’t work out, further making their bid to retain their players more difficult.
Marcus Maye, Safety
Maye was arguably the best player to suit up for Gang-Green in 2020. Playing 99 percent of the team’s snaps, Maye would be a huge loss to the Jets’ already weak backfield. Retaining the 28-year-old should be at the top of their internal list.
Neville Hewitt, Linebacker
New York has been half decent at the linebacker position and that is thanks in a big part to Hewitt. Playing 99 percent of the snaps also, he would be a blow to the pass rush. The 28-year-old has been a Jet for the last three years and would be a blow to lose.
Bradley McDougald, Safety
The Jets infamously lost a star safety in the Jamal Adams blockbuster trade but they didn’t lose someone to place-hold that position. Along with the draft picks the Jets received McDougald who has had a decent career. That was up until the Jets acquired him where he struggles to stay healthy. McDougald, 31, only played in 38 percent of the team’s snaps and was banged up with shoulder injuries among other ailments. Losing him would further deplete the Jets’ backfield depth and veteran leadership.
Jordan Jenkins, Linebacker
The longest-tenured Jet, Jenkins is one season removed from being the Jets sack leader. He ended his 2020 season on a sour note with a shoulder surgery but still would hold some nice value. Still somehow only 27-years-old, Jenkins made it into 46.4 percent of the team’s snaps despite missing four games. Jenkins would sting to lose.
Tarell Basham, Linebacker
The Jets had many breakout stars this past season but one truly was a great story. Basham, 27, has only played four seasons in the NFL and has bounced around on the waiver. In 2018 he found a home with the Jets and has played back-to-back full seasons. With 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, Basham is slowly becoming one of the better linebackers on the Jets and would be a blow to lose.
As mentioned above, the Jets are in a great position this offseason regarding their cap situation. With almost $70 million ready to spend, the Jets can truly make a big splash. Even though this is the case, there are a few players that the Jets may cut loose. This isn’t because they can’t afford them, rather it is so the Jets can upgrade the overall team depth.
George Fant, OT ($9.8 Million Saved)
Fant was signed to a semi super-utility lineman role and filled just that. The overall performance of his game wasn’t as good as the Jets were hoping and he is getting paid quite a lot for a backup.
Henry Anderson, DE ($9.5 Million Saved)
Despite being one of the longer-tenured Jets players, Anderson will likely get the quick hook. His gameplay has been next to useless for the Jets and many young players are being blocked by the veteran.
Alex Lewis, G ($6.9 Million Saved)
The Jets will need to revamp their offensive line for a second straight offseason. Lewis represents the old regime and a player that the Jets have not always had good blood with. A door shown to him will highly likely be the end of his time and green and white.
Open Market Free Agent Targets
The Jets are in one of the biggest media markets in football, New York. Unfortunately, they haven’t played meaningful football in quite a while. This hasn’t stopped them from spending on higher-tier free agents. The Jets are likely to add some big names to their offensive line, and well as some offensive weapons and maybe even some defensive backfield stars.
Bud Dupree, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
New York was without C.J. Mosley and traded away Avery Williamson, leaving their roster fairly bleak at the linebacker position. Now with Mosley in line to make his return, the Jets would be wise to shore up one of their weaker positions with Dupree. Dupree is coming off an injury further making his availability easier for the Jets.
Joe Thuney, G, New England Patriots
A formidable offensive line is imperative to a successful offense. Thuney has been one of the game’s top guards, guarding the likes of Tom Brady. Bringing a face like that to New York would represent a huge upgrade for a notably poor Jets offensive line.
Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
Sam Darnold has yet to have a true No. 1 wide receiver in his career. The Jets have been linked to Robinson via Twitter rumors and fans requests for some time now. Bringing that dream to fruition would be very smart for Joe Douglas and brass. This would further improve Darnold’s chances of unleashing his potential.
Trent Williams, OT, San Francisco 49ers
Just like Thuney, Williams would represent a huge upgrade on the offensive line for New York. The Jets were infamously in the sweepstakes for Williams’ services when Washington was actively shopping him last offseason. He has yet to net a deal with his new team, the 49ers, allowing him to test his market.
Richard Sherman, CB, San Francisco 49ers
Sherman makes too much sense for the Jets. Between their glaring need for a playmaker in the defensive backfield and his familiarity with former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Sherman and the Jets look like a glove fit.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Just like Robinson, the Jets and Smith-Schuster seem to have been linked for some time now. The only difference this time is that there is some hefty connection as Darnold and Smith-Schuster were college teammates at USC. Now both big names in the NFL, look for a potential mutual interest this offseason.
Previewing The Draft
The Jets were on pace to take home the first overall pick when they decided to beat the Rams towards the season’s end. This took them out of the lead which they never would gain back. They now hold the second overall pick and additionally they have Seattle’s first-round pick from the Adams trade. The Jets will likely look for a quarterback in the first round as well as a cornerback potentially. Later on, in the draft, it would be wise to target some help for the offensive line and maybe some receiving help. The Jets aren’t big draft traders at the top but are known to move around their mid-round picks.
Round 1, Pick 2: Quarterback
It has been made very well known that the Jets are looking to add a quarterback and the current class would be a great one to splurge from.
Round 1, Pick 23: Quarterback/Cornerback
If the Jets oddly don’t select a quarterback with their first pick, this pick would be a great spot to select one. If they choose not too then some defensive backfield help would be wise. One name that has been spoken about plenty is South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn.
Round 2, Pick 34: Outside Linebacker
Saleh is known for wanting to build up a defensive line and this pick is a great spot to do so. Miami star Gregory Rousseau would be a nice addition if on the board at this point.
Round 3, Pick 66: Wide Receiver
Darnold can use some extra weapons and some nice names including Amari Rodgers and Nico Collins may be available here. Adding a reviver through the draft and free agency would be a great success for the Jets.
Round 3, Pick 86: Cornerback
The Jets have essentially no one to help in the backfield on defense and badly need another nickel or even just a decent regular cornerback. Given the depth at cornerback in this year’s draft, the Jets should be able to net a starter in the third round.
Early 2021 Expectations
The Jets are coming off of one of their worst decades in franchise history and 2020 didn’t start on a good note. With new coaching and a rejuvenated front office, the Jets are in a much better position of power than many thought. Couple that with the rumors about the team interest in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson and you have a really good chance of winning the offseason. It is far too early but some evaluators believe the Jets can be one of the league’s better teams with a good draft and free agency.
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