A free agency prediction this early in the year? It’s never too early to start planning ahead for future offseasons. The New York Jets are expected to have the most cap space next season.
For a team rebuilding like the New York Jets, it’s all about making smart acquisitions. Whether it’s in the NFL Draft or free agency, the Jets need to add better talent if they’re ever going to turn into contenders in the future. Luckily, they already are at an advantage heading into next offseason.
Once again, the Jets are going to have a lot of cap space to work with in 2019. As per Over The Cap, the Jets as of right now have about close to $88 million to work with. Once next offseason becomes clearer with the players they’ll be keeping, restructuring, and releasing, they could have even more money to work with.
Next year’s free agency could potentially be the biggest the NFL has ever seen due to the possibility that several high profile players could hit the market. Since the Jets have the money to afford such star free agents, it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of these top players consider joining the franchise since they’re a team on the rise.
Here’s an early look at the top five potential free agency targets that could be on the sights of the Jets.
5. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr., depending on who you ask, is the best name that will appear on this list. So why is he as low as No. 5? Beckham is also the least likely to be available next offseason. Beckham will be just 26-years-old when free agency rolls around next year.
A receiver of his ability at that age will rarely ever hit the open market so the chances of him actually being available are not great. Until the New York Giants extend the star receiver, however, he remains a candidate that just about every team in the league will be lining up to acquire.
Beckham has been a constant headline maker and not always for good reasons. The embattled receiver has been criticized often for his childish antics, such as his on-field altercations with cornerback Josh Norman or throwing his helmet at the practice kicking net.
For a team like the Jets who do not have a true number one receiver, they should be able to see past his troubles. Pairing Robby Anderson with Beckham could be just what Sam Darnold needs. It’s unlikely, but don’t rule it out.
Next: 4. Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney
4. Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney
The Houston Texans pass rusher has been more potential than substance to this point in his career. This past season was the first time he has completed all 16 games in his young career. Clowney racked up 9.5 sacks on the season and looks to be what the Texans have been waiting for.
At just 25-years-old he still has a lot of great years ahead of him presuming he can stay healthy. It was rumored that the Texans and Clowney were approaching a new deal which is why he comes in at No. 4 on this list.
Should negotiations break down, the Jets should be all over Clowney. The Jets haven’t had a legitimate pass rushing threat since John Abraham. Clowney would finally give them a legitimate threat in the front seven to pair with a young and emerging defensive secondary.
Next: 3. Cornerback Tryann Mathieu
3. Cornerback Tryann Mathieu
Tyrann Mathieu is a name that would be a perfect fit for the Jets. The now Texans defensive back was deployed as a swiss army knife the last time he played in a Todd Bowles defense. With Buster Skrine set to be a free agent this year, there is not a better name the Jets could replace him with. Safety Jamal Adams would be on board with bringing in another fellow LSU defensive back that could also serve as another mentor on the team.
Mathieu has had his fair share of injuries in the past, but when healthy he is in the discussion for being best in the league at the position. Able to play corner, slot, free and strong safety, the Honey Badger is a player that you get on the field and just set him free. His versatility allows for worlds of possibilities on defense. Out of every name you will see on this list, this is the move Jets fans should want the most.
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Next: 2. Linebacker Dante Fowler Jr.
2. Linebacker Dante Fowler Jr.
Could Fowler finally be a Jet four years later? There were rumors that the Jets attempted to trade up for him in the 2015 NFL Draft when they picked Leonard Williams. Now, the Jets could be in a position to pair the two together.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars defense is of historic measures. As we have seen with the Seattle Seahawks, however, too many high profile players on one side of the ball means you may have to make sacrifices at some point in time.
Fowler is a prime candidate to be a sacrifice after the team declined to pick up his fifth-year option. It just doesn’t make much financial sense for the Jaguars to keep him around when they have so much talent on defense, which makes him expendable.
As stated before, the Jets desperately need an edge presence. With a ton of cap space next year, this is a move the Jets can easily afford. Fowler is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do and is younger than every player that is on this list. Should Fowler have another productive season, it’s easy to see the Jets jumping on him early in the free agency period if he hits the market.
Next: 1. Running Back Le'Veon Bell
1. Running Back Le’Veon Bell
Surprise, but No. 1 on this list is none other than Le’Veon Bell. Bell is a similar case to Beckham where you don’t ever expect a player of his status to reach free agency. Except in the case of Bell, it is more likely than not that he hits the market after failing to secure a long-term deal for the second offseason in a row.
Bell is a generational talent and a jack of all trades. Bell serves as a true workhorse back for Pittsburgh while also being the No. 2 option in the passing game. The amount of touches he sees every Sunday plays a key role in why the Steelers don’t want to pay him the money he is looking for.
For the Jets and all the cap space they have, this shouldn’t be an issue for them. Bilal Powell is already on the wrong side of 30 and backup Isaiah Crowell essentially signed a one-year deal. Replacing them with Bell would be a massive upgrade. He would give Darnold a serious weapon out of the backfield and take a lot of pressure off his plate.