Uncut NFL Free Agency Preview: New York Jets

Uncut NFL Free Agency Preview: New York Jets
Credit: Gang Green Nation

The New York Jets are about to head into one of the most important offseasons ever. A new regime is set in place and there is lots of money to spend.

First, let’s recap the New York Jets’ season from 2020.

2020 New York Jets 

The 2020 New York Jets were an utter disaster. Fans are trying their absolute hardest to put Gang Green’s 2020 season in the rearview mirror.

Free Agency

To start, the 2020 league year, the Jets went bargain-basement shopping in free agency. General manager Joe Douglas, who some claim to be an “offensive line expert”, did not improve the offensive line at all, if there was improvement it’d be by a small margin. As a matter of fact, the Jets signed three new linemen to bolster the offensive line.

As a result, guards Greg  Van Roten and Alex Lewis disappointed and now could be seen as cap casualties. New center Connor McGovern disappointed as well but he’ll likely stay with the team. Right tackle George Fant played well but his contract seems like a bit of an overpay. Once again, the New York Jets’ offensive line ranked at the bottom of the league in metrics.

For the other positions, most were misses. Joe Douglas undervalued wide receiver Robby Anderson, leading him to go to the Carolina Panthers (only for Anderson to put up a career-high in receiving yards). The difference in money between the Jets and Anderson was only $2 million. Quite foolish not to keep him.

To replace him, the team signed former Ravens’ first-round pick Breshad Perriman to a one-year deal. The Jets thought they were getting someone who could become their number one guy after having a nice finish to his season in Tampa Bay in 2019. The Perriman signing failed and he only played 12 games due to injury, which was the biggest red flag in signing him.

Before free agency, the Jets released cornerbacks Darryl Roberts and Trumaine Johnson to save money. Their replacement for cornerback number one was former Indianapolis Colt Pierre Desir. Another swing and a miss by Joe Douglas. The team benched Desir in Week 1 and then cut him five days before their Week 11 game versus the Los Angeles Chargers.

So all in all, free agency was a huge swing and miss with the decision to go bargain-basement shopping. Not that Mike Maccagnan was better by handing out huge contracts, but you have to find a happy medium.

2020 NFL Draft

The Jets had the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They used that selection to draft Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. For the most part, he played very well covering Sam Darnold‘s blindside. But, Becton did miss three games due to injury and that affected his play towards the back half of the season. He’ll have to lose weight in the offseason because linemen of his size are usually injury-prone. He

Then, the Jets traded back to grab the 59th overall pick to select Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims. The Mims pick remains so-so. One thing you could factor in is the Jets didn’t have to trade back and could’ve drafted Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool at 48. Claypool would go on to have a better rookie season than Mims. He only played nine games due to injury. In the games that he played, Mims would only get targets in the first halves of games. Was it due to Sam Darnold’s lack of field vision or head coach Adam Gase‘s terrible play-calling? No one knows but Mims went on radio and didn’t exactly speak highly of Darnold.

Anyways to wrap up this part of the offseason, the Jets went on to select some solid prospects but they ultimately remain unknown or didn’t show enough of anything to get excited about.

It’s quite amazing to me how fans are hailing Joe Douglas when he is basically an unknown.

Jamal Adams Saga & More

After the draft, superstar safety Jamal Adams began growing unhappy with the Jets for being slow on extension talks. Adams began to express his frustrations on social media. Then, he took it to another level. He then interviewed with disgraced New York Daily News reporter Manish Mehta. Adams called out general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Adam Gase for lack of leadership.

He eventually requested a trade and the Jets traded him to the Seattle Seahawks for picks along with safety Bradley McDougald.

Then, to the ire of many fans, the team released Le’Veon Bell after Week 5’s contest against the Arizona Cardinals. The Jets signed Bell to a four-year/ $52.5 million contract in March of 2019. To the belief of many, head coach Adam Gase misused Le’Veon Bell in his offense on purpose during his tenure in New York. It’s been reported that Gase didn’t originally want Bell to sign with the Jets.

In summary, the Jets’ 2020 season was an utter disaster. This was the franchise’s second-worst record in their history, going 2-14. The team ultimately destroyed their chances of landing the first overall pick by winning games against the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns.

Offseason Questions and Answers:

The Jets ultimately fired head coach Adam Gase. The cancer was out of the building. Then, the Jets went on a coaching search for a few weeks. The team ultimately decided to hire San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. The hire sang praises across the league since Saleh was a renowned coordinator and someone known for their relationship with players. At first glance, it’s an excellent hire made by the Jets. But how will he perform in year one? Will he go through growing pains as a rookie head coach?

Quarterback Question Marks . . . . Again

Ultimately, the biggest question of the offseason is the quarterback position. Sam Darnold showed some heavy regression last season. Could it be because of a lack of weapons and offensive line? Could it be because of Adam Gase? Or is it because Sam Darnold didn’t improve as a player. I factor all three reasons. I ultimately think Sam Darnold is damaged goods right now. Sure, Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur could be that fresh start for Darnold. But, what if he gets off to a bad start again in NY? The media will eat him up and he’ll cave. He”ll be demoralized. I think Sam Darnold needs a fresh start elsewhere, say San Francisco or Washington will do.

Anyways, who should replace Sam Darnold? For this one, the best way to do this is either through the draft or via trade. The Jets lost out on the number one overall pick, which in all likelihood, rules out Trevor Lawrence. The team can either select Ohio State product Justin Fields or BYU product Zach Wilson. They do have their concerns though.

Some say Justin Fields was not good or consistent enough against the best competition. He notably beat Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship but not without a shaky performance. Fields also beat Clemson in the College Football playoff where he dominated even though he was playing injured. Then, he lost to Alabama in the Championship Game playing with that same injury but didn’t play so well.

The major concern around Zach Wilson is the level of competition he played. Going 11-1 and playing in the FBS Independent Conference isn’t really something to brag about. But successful quarterbacks in the NFL like Drew Brees and Josh Allen have played in lowly conferences. That debunks that theory.

The Jets can also go the trade route and try to acquire disgruntled Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson. Gang Green has the most to offer for Watson but the question is can they build around him? If they finally draft well in the middle rounds, they definitely can surround Deshaun Watson with talent.

Other Needs

It’s quite clear that the Jets didn’t do enough in free agency or the draft to fix some of their holes. The offensive line remains at the bottom of the league in rankings. There are questions at cornerback and edge rusher. Also, the Jets don’t have a number one target.

The Jets have approximately $69.2 million in cap space, second in the NFL.

Assumingly, this is what should be done.

Needs:

  • CB
  • EDGE
  • Backup RB
  • OL
  • TE

Cuts:

Signings:

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