Free Agency

New York Jets Free Agent Big Board: Ranking the Top 25 free agent targets

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 16: Anthony Barr #55 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after sacking Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 16: Anthony Barr #55 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after sacking Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 16: Anthony Barr #55 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after sacking Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 16: Anthony Barr #55 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after sacking Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

With free agency right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to put together a big board consisting of the top free agent targets for the New York Jets. Here is a ranking of the top 25 targets for the team in free agency.

The New York Jets will have their eyes set on adding a plethora of new pieces in free agency this offseason. With nearly $100 million in cap space, their options will definitely be open and there is never a shortage of quality players on the open market.

However, finding players that make sense for the team, fit the organizational scheme, and are realistically attainable/affordable becomes a more difficult task. Your options begin to dwindle until you have a set list of true targets.

With free agency just a few days away, we here at The Jet Press thought it would be a great idea to construct a big board ranking the top 25 free agent targets for the Jets this offseason. Everything including market value, prior production, and team fit has been taken into account to put together this list.

We’ve left no stone unturned as we’re looking at not solely the major, pressing needs for the organization. Rather, we will be looking at the low-key, under-the-radar fits as well. With that, let’s jump into our first five entries.

Notable omissions: WR Danny Amendola, EDGE Ezekiel Ansah, WR Cole Beasley, WR John Brown, OT Trent Brown, EDGE Dante Fowler, EDGE Markus Golden, RB Mark Ingram, S/CB Tyrann Mathieu, WR Donte Moncrief, LB C.J. Mosley, CB Steven Nelson, QB Brock Osweiler, CB Brian Poole

OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 11: Tyrell Williams #16 of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 11, 2018 in Oakland, California. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 11: Tyrell Williams #16 of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 11, 2018 in Oakland, California. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

No. 25 — No. 21

25. QB Trevor Siemian — The Jets could look to move on from Josh McCown given his age and recent struggles. Siemian is an ideal backup quarterback that gives the team increased insurance in case Sam Darnold is forced to miss a few games. Given his prior starting experience in Denver and low expected market value, this signing would make a ton of sense.

24. TE Levine Toilolo — The Jets seem to have landed their tight end of the future in Chris Herndon but the tight end depth chart behind him is scarce. It would be wise for the team to look to acquire a solid blocking tight end to pair with Herndon and Toilolo fits the bill perfectly. He offers enough ability as a receiver to be an excellent No. 2 tight end option.

23. RB T.J. Yeldon — Any running back on this list not named Le’Veon Bell will be considered a fallback option, but Yeldon is one of the more intriguing options available. While he shouldn’t be counted on as a feature back, Yeldon would be an appealing option to pair with another running back in the backfield in 2019. His experience as a pass-catcher and as a blocker make him an ideal third-down back.

22. WR Tyrell Williams — The Jets will need to address receiver in free agency this year and one of the more interesting options is Tyrell Williams. Williams is still just 27-years-old and his speed and downfield ability allow him to take the top off of opposing defenses. His skill set may be too reminiscent of Robby Anderson‘s but pairing the two together could give the Jets a dangerous duo of downfield dynamo.

21. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins — Much like the Toilolo entry, Seferian-Jenkins would give the Jets a legitimate No. 2 option at tight end behind the impressive Herndon. Seferian-Jenkins experienced a career revival with the Jets in 2017 but failed to do much of anything this past year in Jacksonville before ending up on the injured reserve. Given his history with the Jets and the team’s reported interest in bringing him back, we could see a reunion between the two sides before long.

Next: No. 20 — No. 16

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 16: Linebacker Shaquil Barrett #48 of the Denver Broncos dives to tackle wide receiver Jordy Nelson #82 of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter of a game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 16: Linebacker Shaquil Barrett #48 of the Denver Broncos dives to tackle wide receiver Jordy Nelson #82 of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter of a game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

No. 20 — No. 16

20. OG A.J. Cann — Cann is by no means the preferred option for the Jets at guard, but he would be an acceptable alternative if the Jets fail to sign a top offensive line target. The South Carolina product played alongside current Jets right tackle Brandon Shell in college and has been a reliable starter for four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Still, his play has left much to be desired as he has struggled both with his run blocking and pass protection at times. It doesn’t help that he has exclusively played right guard in the pros while the Jets will be searching for a new left guard.

19. EDGE Shaquil Barrett — Barrett isn’t going to be one of the most talked about edge rushers in free agency this year, but he has been sneakily productive during his NFL career thus far. The sacks numbers won’t jump out at you, but he has been able to get a ton of pressures and has graded very well with Pro Football Focus over his five-year career. Barrett wouldn’t be a star, but he would definitely be an improvement.

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18. WR Golden Tate — Tate ranks very low on this list despite the fact that he is expected to be the top wide receiver available in free agency. But because of that, it’s expected that he will draw a large market and his age (30-years-old) is a number that is concerning as well. Still, it would be nice to see what he could do in Adam Gase‘s offense, only for the right price, however.

17. CB Ronald Darby — Much like Tate, Darby is low on this list not due to talent, but anticipated team fit. Darby will be the top cornerback in free agency this year and he will likely be paid as such. With very solid prior production and at just 25-years-old, Darby will likely draw a huge market and be paid top-tier money in free agency. He’s a good player and an intriguing option, but he may not be a great fit for the Jets who will look to spend their money elsewhere.

16. EDGE Preston Smith — Smith is expected to be one name in a long list of edge rushers the Jets will be in the market for. The Mississippi State product has spent the first four years of his career with the Washington Redskins and has flashed at times. However, his eight-sack 2017 campaign was followed up with a disappointing four sacks in 2018. Smith projects more as a run-stopping SAM linebacker which could make his skill set too similar to Jordan Jenkins.

Next: No. 15 — No. 11

LANDOVER, MD – DECEMBER 09: Wide receiver Jamison Crowder #80 of the Washington Redskins runs for a touchdown after a catch in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at FedExField on December 9, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD – DECEMBER 09: Wide receiver Jamison Crowder #80 of the Washington Redskins runs for a touchdown after a catch in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at FedExField on December 9, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

No. 15 — No. 11

15. CB Pierre Desir — If the Jets opt to replace Morris Claiborne in free agency, Desir is a player they could look to target. Once outcast as a veteran journeyman, the 28-year-old Desir was able to turn his career around with a breakout 2018 season playing for the Indianapolis Colts. Some are concerned that Desir is simply a product of the Colts Cover 2-heavy defensive scheme — see Rashaan Melvin — but the former 2014 fourth-round pick could be an interesting option as a possible upgrade over Claiborne.

14. TE Jesse James — We’ve reached the last of our viable tight end options and definitely the most appealing. James is far more accomplished in his career than the prior two options (Toilolo and Seferian-Jenkins) and would give the Jets one of the better tight end duos in the entire NFL. At 6-foot-7, James is an excellent blocker but has also shown receiving ability in the past on par with a good amount of starting tight ends in the league. This is a free agent target that no one is talking about that would be one of the better moves of the offseason, if the price is right.

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13. CB Bradley Roby — Roby ranks ahead of Desir not necessarily for his recent play but for his positional flexibility. The Ohio State product spent the first four years of his career as a slot corner for the Denver Broncos before being shifted outside after the departure of Aqib Talib. While he struggled in his new role in 2018, his prior success in the nickel could be appealing to the Jets looking to move on from Buster Skrine. His versatility only helps his case.

12. WR Jamison Crowder — Adding a true slot receiver could prove to be very beneficial for the Jets as it would allow Quincy Enunwa to play more outside receiver, a role he excelled at in 2016. Crowder is just 25-years-old and has one of the more impressive pedigrees out of any free agent receiver. The Redskins will definitely make a push to keep him in 2019 and beyond but if he hits the open market, expect the Jets to at least explore signing Crowder.

11. OG Quinton Spain — Spain is a potential fallback option if the Jets fail to land one of the top offensive line targets. The soon-to-be former Tennessee Titan spent the past three years as the starting left guard in Nashville and while his 2016 season looked promising, his play has tailed off in recent years. Still, at only 27-years-old, it could be worth taking a flyer on Spain and hoping he regains some of that 2016 magic. Plus his price tag won’t be nearly as large as some other offensive linemen on the market.

Next: No. 10 — No. 6

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 30: Trey Flowers #98 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 30: Trey Flowers #98 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

No. 10 — No. 6

10. EDGE Za’Darius Smith — In a relatively weak free agent class of edge rushers, Smith could be one of the more enticing options. In a daunting Baltimore Ravens defense in 2018, it was Smith who led the team in sacks with 8.5 despite only starting eight games all season. The former 2015 fourth-round pick might project more as a 4-3 defensive end but he has the athleticism to play a 3-4 outside linebacker role with the Jets just as he did with the Ravens.

9. RB Tevin Coleman — A potential Coleman signing is fully contingent on the failure to sign Le’Veon Bell. Otherwise, his market is not something the Jets will explore. However, Coleman is the ultimate fallback option for Bell and will likely be paid as such in free agency. If the Jets do sign the former Atlanta Falcon, expect the team to pair him up with an inside runner as a backfield partner as Coleman has never been a true feature back. Regardless, he would be a major upgrade over the current crop of backs on the team and give the Jets an excellent outside running threat.

8. C Mitch Morse — If the Jets can’t land the top center in free agency (more on him later), Morse would be a very suitable replacement. The former Kansas City Chief has struggled with durability over the last two seasons but has been a very reliable blocker when healthy. While he isn’t the most accomplished run blocker, he is one of the better pass blocking centers in the league and would help sure up the interior of the offensive line. He projects as a better version of what Spencer Long was last year. Hopefully, much better.

7. WR Adam Humphries — With a major need at receiver, Humphries represents the top positional target for the Jets on this big board. As mentioned in the Crowder entry — see No. 12 — adding Humphries would give the Jets an excellent slot receiver option allowing the aforementioned Enunwa to shift back to the boundary. Humphries is just 26-years-old and is fresh off a 76-catch, 816-yard season in Tampa Bay’s high-powered offense. A trio of Anderson, Enunwa, and Humphries would go a long way towards helping improve Darnold’s supporting cast.

6. EDGE Trey Flowers — This year’s crop of free agent edge rushers doesn’t present teams with many exciting options but expect Flowers to be the hottest commodity available. Flowers has been the definition of consistent having secured 6.5 or more sacks in each of the last three seasons. While he isn’t your ideal pass rusher, Flowers has been the ultimate chess piece for New England’s defense and does basically everything really well. He isn’t so much of a one-trick pony pass rusher as he is an all-around very good edge defender making him a top option for teams in need of an edge this offseason.

Next: No. 5 — No. 1

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 10: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against Michael Pierce #97 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on December 10, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 10: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against Michael Pierce #97 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on December 10, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. New York Jets free agency (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

No. 5 — No. 1

5. EDGE/OLB Anthony Barr — While Flowers will be discussed by many as the top edge available, Barr ranks slightly ahead of him on this list. Barr has spent the first five seasons of his NFL career as an excellent off-ball linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, having made four consecutive Pro Bowls. However, teams have expressed interest in moving him back to the edge position where he excelled at in college. Barr has the highest upside out of any potential edge rusher in this free agent class and has the proven NFL success to back it up. He should be a top priority for the Jets.

4. CB Bryce Callahan — For whatever reason, nickel cornerbacks are still undervalued in free agency despite their prominent place in today’s NFL. Regardless, the Jets could be set to benefit from that if they explore Callahan’s market in free agency. Callahan has spent the past couple years getting overshadowed by the star players in the Chicago Bears defense but has quietly been one of the unit’s best players. Arguably one of the top slot corners in the league, Callahan would be a significant upgrade over the aforementioned Skrine and the Jets shouldn’t have to break the bank to get it done.

3. OG Rodger Saffold — If the Jets are going to have a successful offseason, they must significantly improve their offensive line play and the best way to do that would be to land a player like Saffold in free agency. After nine seasons with the Rams, Saffold is expected to be the top guard available and should garner a huge market. Despite his price tag and his age, the Jets must do what they can to sign him and shore up the offensive line going into 2019. The team has reportedly shown interest in him, now they need to get a deal done.

2. C Matt Paradis — If not Saffold, the Jets must land the other top offensive lineman available this offseason in Matt Paradis. Paradis ranks higher than Saffold only due to a slight age difference (29 as compared to 31) and teams will certainly be all over the former Denver Broncos center’s market come the start of free agency. Prior to breaking his leg, Paradis ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 2 center and would immediately be the Jets best offensive lineman if he were to sign with the team. The price will be steep, but the reward will be worth it.

3 free agents the Jets must stay away from. Next

1. RB Le’Veon Bell — Bell is the most polarizing player on this board. Some will agree and equally have him ranked as their top target while others will exclude him from their boards entirely. Ultimately, Bell represents such an anomaly in the market that the Jets would be doing a disservice to themselves and more importantly Sam Darnold if they were to sit on their hands with this one. The value that Bell would bring to the Jets offense would be immense and he would likely become their best skill position player on offense since the days of Curtis Martin. A Bell signing has every chance of blowing up in the Jets faces, but the risk would be well worth the potential reward.

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