This offseason for the New York Jets, they have definitely seen highs and lows, but it appears as if the roster has ultimately improved outside of the unpredictable quarterback position.
The Jets came into this offseason knowing that they might lose some key pieces to last season’s squad due to salary cap issues. As expected, the team did lose some key players, but they also added some new pieces to all three phases. It appears as if the roster as a whole has taken steps forwards instead of backwards.
On offense, general manager Mike Maccagnan added two key starters in former Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, and former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Ryan Clady. If healthy, both players are bound to play a significant role on the team as both have been major impact players in the past.
Forte will add a completely new type of weapon to the Jets already talented group of skill position players. Forte can simply do it all as he has been one of the best all-around backs in the league for years. He can still rush, catch passes and pick up the blitz at a very high level.
Heaving a weapon like Forte coming out of the backfield will do wonders for the Jets’ offense. Due to the amount of attention that Forte commands for his elite dual-threat abilities, there will be a ton of pressure taken off of star receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Forte will also give the starting quarterback an extremely reliable safety valve to throw to if the play breaks down.
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The acquisition of Clady via a trade with Denver has the potential to be this year’s version of the Marshall trade for the Jets.
The four-time Pro-Bowl left tackle was one of the best at his position in the NFL before suffering an ACL tear that sidelined him for all of the 2015-2016 season.
Clady is a freak athlete on the offensive line who has proven throughout his career that he can be an extremely reliable blind side protector.
If healthy, he will be a major change of pace from the old and declining D’Brickashaw Ferguson. By saying that, Clady could ultimately end up being a significant upgrade for the Jets’ offensive line.
Defensively, the Jets made some significant moves as well. The team signed two defensive linemen to attempt to fill the large hole that Damon Harrison left in Jarvis Jenkins and Steve McLendon. Both McLendon and Jenkins will be playing a very meaningful role for the Jets’ defense this upcoming season.
McLendon is going to be the main player to fill in for Harrison. He will serve as their main nose tackle and he will likely play a similar percentage of the team’s snaps to what Harrison played. He is a space eating nose tackle who will help clog the opposing team’s rushing attack.
Jenkins will serve as more of a depth player behind the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. He will play at defensive end when the Jets are running their typical 3-4 defensive scheme. Jenkins had four sacks last season and he will be a really useful piece for the Jets’ defense.
At linebacker, the Jets got younger and faster this year through the 2016 NFL Draft and free agency. First round pick linebacker Darron Lee and third round pick linebacker Jordan Jenkins will surely have an immediate impact on the Jets’ defense. Lee will serve as a do it all inside linebacker for the Jets. He can rush the passer, stop the run and cover slot receivers and tight ends. He will be a monumental piece for years to come.
Jenkins is a very tough outside linebacker who can do all the dirty work. He has a great initial burst off the line of scrimmage and he is a disruptive force. Jenkins will be a very solid contributor to the Jets’ young linebacker corps.
The Jets’ special teams unit saw some major improvements over the course of the offseason as well. They selected Sam Houston State punter Lachlan Edwards in the seventh round of the draft. They also brought in punter Tom Hackett from Utah State as an undrafted free agent, so we can be sure that the team will see an upgrade at punter.
Gang Green brought in some very nice returners to help their special teams unit as well. They acquired wide receiver Jeremy Ross more towards the beginning of the NFL free agency period. They also brought in Ohio State returner and wide receiver Jalin Marshall through the undrafted free agent process. Marshall is a small, elusive return man who has the potential to help the unit out from day one.
All in all, the roster of the Jets has seen a lot of improvements over the course of the offseason. Along with the more significant additions that were mentioned, the Jets have also added some valuable depth players such as linebacker Bruce Carter, cornerback Darius Morris and running back Khiry Robinson. The Jets have all of the pieces that they need on their roster to make a run. Now, let’s see what they decide to do at quarterback.