Oct 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets need a lot of help to bolster their team for next season. Here are the top 10 free agents they should consider for 2017.
Where do we begin? Well, right off the bat, the New York Jets ended last season at 5-11 and looked like a team spiraling out of control. Anything one would think could go wrong did as many fans just wanted the season over to just end the misery.
Now that last season is in the past, the only way the Jets can go is up this offseason. Of course, it all starts with the NFL Free Agency period which officially begins on Thursday, March 9th, 2017. That’s when the frenzy begins as hot names will be taken off the market with many players making big splashes to new teams with tons of money coming their way.
When it comes to the Jets, their main offseason priorities at this point in time are on their offensive line, defensive secondary, and of course, quarterback. If one thinks about it, the Jets could improve a few of these areas in free agency to set themselves up for a hopefully good 2017 NFL Draft class.
It won’t be easy but if history has anything to say about it, general manager Mike Maccagnan knows how to get the most to field a better team than what the football world saw last season. Without further ado, here are the top 10 free agents the Jets should consider for next season that can come right in and take care of business.
Next: 10. Running Back Eddie Lacy
Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) breaks free for a first down against New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) and cornerback Leon Hall (25) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
10. Running Back Eddie Lacy
The Jets might have some bright spots at running back but surely, they can’t go into next season hoping that Matt Forte will be healthy to endure the entire season. Plus if one thinks about it, Bilal Powell did very good last season but is also no guarantee he can be an effective starter if he earns such a role for 2017.
That’s why the Jets need to throw another key name into the mix. Many view free agent running back Eddie Lacy as a player that lost his touch and power over the past few seasons. There is no questioning his ability to be a playmaker and perhaps a change of scenery would bode well for Lacy to resurrect a once promising career.
His first two seasons in the NFL, Lacy totaled 2,317 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns, and was truly a force to reckon with. Being out of shape his third season and then dealing with an ankle injury as of late which required surgery has limited his abilities. But Lacy would be a low risk/high reward kind of player if he’s able to find his mojo again with the Jets.
One can only imagine how great a triple-headed beast at running back could be next season with Forte, Lacy, and Powell all getting touches to keep those chains moving. Considering that Lacy also has experience coming out the backfield as a receiving threat bodes well for the Jets to add him as a versatile running back on an inexpensive short-term deal.
Next: 9. Safety Micah Hyde
Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers strong safety Micah Hyde (33) smiles before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Packers won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
9. Safety Micah Hyde
The defensive secondary of the Jets was abysmal last season. It seemed that any quarterback capable of throwing a pass was able to rack up a plethora of yards against the positional group. It makes sense for the Jets to shake up their defensive secondary and bring in players capable of making big plays and actually play with aggression.
In the grand scheme of things, safety Micah Hyde is exactly what the Jets need and then some. Not only is a natural born defender but he also contributes on special teams as a return specialist. Last season, the special teams unit of the Jets was terrible and well, someone with the speed and experience of Hyde would help the unit try to get better field positioning on returns.
The great thing about Hyde is he’s young and has his best football years are ahead of him. He’s not perfect but is versatile in that he can effectively play cornerback, safety, and as previously mentioned, be a kickoff/punt returner on top of it all.
Hyde hustles and plays hard on every single down plus not to mention, would be a great locker room presence to have. The Jets need players of his caliber than can do well on the football field and also bring a good personality to a positional group that seemed lost and uninspired last season.
Next: 8. Offensive Tackle Ricky Wagner
Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) pass rushes towards Baltimore Ravens tackle Ricky Wagner (71) in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
8. Offensive Tackle Ricky Wagner
At just 27-years-old, offensive tackle Ricky Wagner is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’s a classic case of an overachieving player that makes the most of every situation presented in front of him.
Wagner is 6’6″ and 308 lbs. capable of containing incoming blitzes and pass rushes effectively. Many consider Wagner to be among one of the top offensive tackles hitting the free agent market and well, if the Jets want to bolster their aging and inconsistent offensive line, he’d be a perfect fit.
Not only would he be able to start right off the bat but his experience in the NFL would help him be an incredible asset to everyone around him. It’s important the Jets find a nice balance of veterans and promising young talent to field a competitive team come next season and beyond.
Wagner will be looking for a pretty big contract and this is an area that the Jets can’t be cheap in since he’s everything they’re looking for and then some. Signing Wagner to a three or even four-year deal would be a great move to fix their main offensive line issues as he can play tackle or guard very well.
Next: 7. Wide Receiver Kenny Stills
Jan 1, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots won 35-14. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
7. Wide Receiver Kenny Stills
The Jets had one of the worst offenses last season. They were unable to score touchdowns, get easy first downs, and above all else, didn’t play with confidence. Regardless, the Jets need to add some playmakers considering that they will more than likely have a few salary cap casualties this offseason.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills is coming off his best season yet with the Miami Dolphins. In 2016, Stills totaled 726 receiving yards, 42 receptions, and 9 touchdowns. No matter what direction the Jets go at quarterback, it’s important to have another new weapon on offense to compliment their up and coming wide receivers.
Stills would bring speed, solid route-running, and is a player that can make a difference every single time he steps on the football field. He would compliment everyone else around him and would add another layer of competitiveness to the bitter AFC East feud between the Jets and Dolphins if he defects to the city that never sleeps.
Despite his numbers not exactly jumping out the stat sheet, the Jets would be wise to sign him to a two-year deal that is loaded with incentives since, at the end of the day, Stills is a natural born playmaker that could very well breakout in his fourth or fifth season in the NFL.
Next: 6. Offensive Guard Kevin Zeitler
Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler (68) runs on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Seattle 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
6. Offensive Guard Kevin Zeitler
Make no mistake about it, offensive guard Kevin Zeitler is easily the best of the best at his position. Zeitler has been relatively healthy throughout his five years in the league and will easily command top dollar in free agency.
It’s important that as the Jets continue to make salary cap cuts to have some spending money once free agency hits to bolster their offensive line. It won’t be easy but if they’re going to spend money to address major areas of need on the team, they must have their sights set on Zeitler since he would be an anchor for years to come.
Not only is Zeitler great in pass protection, but he has a knack for doing his part to open up rushing gaps to give his running back great opportunities to keep those chains moving. With a strong work ethic and a relentless mentality to do whatever it takes to succeed, Zeitler is worth every penny coming his way in free agency.
The Jets need to be all in when it comes to being among the teams looking to acquire his services. There will be plenty of teams looking at Zeitler so hopefully, they give the most attractive offer to bring this high-quality player to a struggling offensive line.
Next: 5. Center J.C. Tretter
5. Center J.C. Tretter
As much as fans love center Nick Mangold, he can’t play forever and is already getting up there in age. Injuries have also hit him as of late as it’s time the Jets not only find a suitable replacement but also bring quality depth to the position.
Free agent center J.C. Tretter was a player on the rise before suffering a knee injury with the Green Bay Packers. He just turned 26-years-old and has plenty of football ahead of him. When he was healthy, Tretter was efficient and did well in protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Jets must be honest with themselves when it comes to their more popular players. While it would be a shame to cut Mangold or even consider putting him in a rotation with another center to keep him preserved for a full season, it might very well be some of the best options for him.
Either way, Tretter would be a solid fit for the Jets that wouldn’t exactly break the bank. The free agency market isn’t exactly overfilled with solid centers but Tretter would be one of the better choices to go with as a player capable of starting or subbing in for Mangold should the Jets keep him for next season.
Next: 4. Center Stefen Wisniewski
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski (61) in action against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
4. Center Stefen Wisniewski
The best teams in the league have versatile players. When it comes to an offensive line, it’s always good to have a player that can do well in two positions. As previously mentioned, the Jets would be wise to go with Tretter and also consider adding center Stefen Wisniewski as well.
Wisniewski can effectively play center or guard which are two areas the Jets need to bolster. The best part is he’s spent his career with the Philadelphia Eagles as the AFC East is all about tough defenses and pass rushes.
Not only has Wisniewski been able to hold his own but he’ll be 28-years-old come the regular season which means he’d be perfect to bring to the Jets on a three-year deal. He has experience, toughness and great characteristics to build upon.
His versatility in playing center or guard is perfect for the Jets, especially if they keep adding new pieces to their offensive line. Since he has a lot of experience as a backup, he’s the perfect plug-and-play kind of player to have that can step into either role and do well in.
Next: 3. Cornerback Darryl Morris
Sep 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts strong safety Mike Adams (29) and cornerback D’Joun Smith (30) and defensive back Darryl Morris (35) react against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lions won 39-35. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
3. Cornerback Darryl Morris
For Jets fans, the name Darryl Morris might look familiar to you. He was a part of the Jets many moons ago but has been a journeyman throughout his career. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Morris is once again in the market and quite honestly, would be a smart pickup by the Jets this time around.
Depth is incredibly important in the league as Morris, while not ready to be an every-down starter, would be great in a situational role. He plays hard and has a good football IQ which is what the Jets need to have in their defensive secondary.
Morris has experience at cornerback and safety, considering how safety Calvin Pryor has looked like he regressed last season, bringing in some competition for his spot would be ideal. Morris is a ballhawk and knows how to disrupt passes and make his presence felt.
It would also be quite the story to bring Morris back to the Jets as quality depth. He never had an opportunity to showcase his talents in the big apple and now that he’s had some success last season with the Indianapolis Colts, would be a nice addition. Morris also does well on special teams which are another area of need for the Jets.
Next: 2. Cornerback A.J. Bouye
Jan 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) in action against the Oakland Raiders during the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
2. Cornerback A.J. Bouye
Besides offensive line, the Jets have major issues at cornerback. It’s hard to tell what will ultimately happen with cornerback Darrelle Revis but before his off-the-field incident, he more than likely wasn’t going to be brought back next season by the Jets anyway.
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This is another case of the Jets having to do whatever is necessary to have spending money heading into free agency. To fix such a massive issue on their defensive secondary, the Jets need to bring in a player capable of starting the moment he’s brought to the franchise.
Cornerback A.J. Bouye is coming off his best season yet with the Houston Texans. Last season, Bouye totaled 48 tackles, 1.0 sack, 16 passes defended and was considered one of the best at his position. Bouye will likely seek a huge payday in free agency but he brings the stats and major upside to the table.
Adding Bouye to the Jets would be a huge move and easily make the team better come next season. While miracles don’t happen overnight, Bouye is a player on the rise and could very well have his best football yet to be seen as he hits his fifth year in the league. The Jets will want to bounce back next season and while it might not happen, Bouye is a player that would be great to build around for the future.
Next: 1. Quarterback Brian Hoyer
Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
1. Quarterback Brian Hoyer
Recently, Brian Hoyer was the No. 1 choice in my top five free agent quarterbacks the Jets should consider for next season and rightfully so. The Jets should either give quarterback Bryce Petty the opportunity to start and play for all of next season or at the very least, have an open competition come training camp to determine who is the best player to start.
The Jets surely can’t go with just Petty and Christian Hackenberg at the position as it’s likely that they won’t be bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith for 2017. They need a veteran quarterback and well, that’s where Hoyer comes in.
Hoyer is a game manager and would be a solid mentor to have for both young quarterbacks. Should Petty not take care of business or even if Hackenberg is still not ready, Hoyer can easily start and do enough to not bring headaches to the most important position on the team. As an insurance policy, this is also the case should Petty or Hackenberg get injured as well.
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The Jets don’t need to give up precious draft picks or some of their top players in order to acquire a franchise quarterback. It’s time to see if Petty can be a franchise quarterback but the football world won’t know until he gets his shot. Not for a handful of games but rather, an entire season. That’s why having someone like Hoyer is crucial to his continued development and progression. Plus, not to mention, Hoyer isn’t going to ask for premium money, unlike other free agent quarterbacks that will be seeking huge deals.