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Jets hesitation to address positions of need is puzzling

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked and stripped by Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders is sacked and stripped by Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets have made quite a few splash signings in free agency this offseason but their inability to address positions of need has curbed their overall success.

The New York Jets entered the offseason with an abundance of cap space that was to be used to fill an abundance of needs on the roster. While the team has done an excellent job landing some of the most high-profile names in free agency, the Jets lack of urgency when addressing the true needs of the organization is confounding, to say the least.

Le’Veon Bell was an incredible signing that will help the team out in more ways than can even be calculated. The addition of C.J. Mosley is fantastic and will immediately improve the defense from both a caliber and leadership standpoint.

But you’d be lying if you said that running back and off-ball linebacker were the two most pressing needs to address this offseason.

Is it unfair to characterize Bell and Mosley simply by their positions? Yes, perhaps it is. The value that they bring extends beyond simply pigeonholing them within their assigned position on the field.

Still, the fact remains that the Jets have wholly ignored the three most crucial positions of need this offseason — offensive line/center, edge rusher, and cornerback — and that’s a problem.

The Jets did their best work shoring up the offensive line with the addition of former All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele shortly before the start of the free agency period. This was an excellent start and it showed promise that the team would finish the job they started and finally solidify the offensive line.

Instead, we sit here in late March and their current projected starting center is career reserve, Jonotthan Harrison. Harrison did an admirable job filling in for injuries last season starting a combined eight games at both left guard and center but the versatile veteran is best served as a steady backup option.

The Jets had the opportunity to acquire a high-caliber center in free agency but passed on both Mitch Morse and Matt Paradis, the consensus top options on the market. Veterans John Sullivan and Stefen Wisniewski remain unsigned, but even they’re just stop-gap options for the time being.

This blunder was compounded with the failure to improve upon the cornerback situation. The Jets replaced the oft-penalized Skrine in the nickel with former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole. Poole, in many ways, is a discount Skrine who is younger, cheaper, and has more room for development.

But to expect an immediate, noticeable upgrade would consist of ignoring his recent play.

The Jets also seemingly decided to replace the aging, injury-riddled Morris Claiborne with Darryl Roberts, a player who has spent his three seasons in the league as a primary backup candidate.

Make no mistake about it, this isn’t necessarily about giving a younger player a chance either. Roberts will be 29-years-old before the season ends, the same age that Claiborne will be.

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Now, Roberts did play well when given the chance last season and there’s no harm in bringing him back. But to expect him to be the No. 2 cornerback opposite Trumaine Johnson — who wasn’t exactly a lockdown No. 1 option last year either — is really putting all their eggs in one basket.

But perhaps the most egregious mismanagement of all has come with how the team has addressed the edge rusher position. Despite multiple opportunities to sign viable starting edge rushers in free agency, the Jets have come away empty with not a single free agent contract to show for any of their efforts.

Of course, the team did do their best to sign Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and it’s likely that he would have played more of an edge rusher role in New York. But that deal, unfortunately, fell through leaving the Jets empty-handed.

At the moment, the current starting options for the Jets at edge rusher are Jordan Jenkins, a solid edge defender who showed promise as a pass rusher in 2018 but still projects more as an edge setter, and…..Frankie Luvu. Yes, the Frankie Luvu that spent all of last year as a reserve pass rusher after making the team as an undrafted free agent.

Of course, the answer that people will give for all of these problems is the NFL Draft. But that’s just it.

That’s the problem.

It would be just fine for the Jets to have ignored one or even two of these positions in free agency and simply waited their time until the draft came around. With this year’s class particularly deep at both edge rusher and cornerback, it would have made some sense.

But for the Jets to seemingly ignore all three major positions of need, it should be considered gross mismanagement on the part of general manager Mike Maccagnan and the rest of the front office. Unless there is a trade in the works before the draft rolls around, this seems like a strategy destined to fail.

With just six picks in this year’s draft and just three in the top 100, it will be very difficult for the Jets to properly address each of these pressing needs. Not to mention the fact that they will have to actually hit on their picks, something that even the best of teams struggle to do consistently.

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Again, there’s nothing wrong with passing on free agency to fill holes in the draft. But when you do that with your three biggest needs it’s a recipe for disaster.

A trade down would help as it would give the Jets more room to breathe so they wouldn’t be locked into addressing these three needs with their first three picks. But even so, the Jets seem to have backed themselves into a bit of a corner in this year’s draft.

Say, for example, a player they really like begins to fall but he doesn’t necessarily fill one of these needs. The Jets won’t have the luxury to make a “best player available” selection since they will have already locked themselves into drafting for need.

At the end of the day, you could sign all the Le’Veon Bell’s and C.J. Mosley’s that you want. But if you choose to ignore the most glaring issues on your roster they will come back to bite you.

Next. Power ranking the Jets 2019 free agent acquisitions

Let’s just hope that’s not what happens with the Jets in 2019.

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