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New York Jets: Ranking the team’s top 5 needs heading into 2020

NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
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New York Jets (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Jets (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Jets have a lot to accomplish during this pivotal offseason. Here are the top 5 needs the team needs to address in 2020.

The New York Jets went 7-9 in 2019. That’s the eighth time in the last nine years that the team finished with a .500 record or worse. Fans are ready for change.

2020 is a pivotal time for New York Jets’ second-year general manager Joe Douglas. Despite technically being in his second year with the team, this will be his first opportunity to put his imprint on the green and white.

In an unusual move, the Jets decided to move on from former general manager Mike Maccagnan after he signed a boatload of free agents and after he ran the 2019 NFL Draft.

Douglas was hired back in June of 2019. So, in other words, he had no hand in what free agents the team signed nor did he have any say on draft day. That won’t be the case this offseason.

Obviously considering this team’s track record of losing, they have plenty of needs heading into 2020. We evaluated the team and came up with our top five needs for the New York Jets heading into 2020.

Next: 5. NYJ's most underrated need

5. Backup quarterback

Under contract: Sam Darnold, Mike White.

Pending free agents: Trevor Siemian, David Fales.

Not enough people are talking about how big of a need this for the New York Jets in 2020. Which is shocking considering how the 2019 season unfolded.

When Sam Darnold was ruled out for the foreseeable future after Week 1, the team collapsed under the “tutelage” of Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk. The team didn’t invest enough resources into the position and it cost them dearly in 2019.

Sam Darnold is obviously the franchise quarterback for the green and white, but he needs a legitimate backup that in case of emergencies (injuries or otherwise) can come in and keep the ship afloat.

Let’s take the Philadelphia Eagles for example: during the wildcard round of the 2019 postseason vs the Seattle Seahawks, Carson Wentz went down with an injury in the first quarter. If that were the Jets, the entire team would collapse and they’d have no chance. But the Eagles turned the keys to the franchise over to former Jets backup Josh McCown and he kept the team afloat and was respectable.

We already broke down the top three backup quarterbacks the team should consider this offseason that’ll be available in free agency in 2020 (read here). Although there are several avenues the team could explore to improve the position whether that be through trade or heck even late during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Next: 4. NYJ finally needs to address this

4. EDGE

Under contract: Tarell Basham, Harvey Langi

Pending free agents: Jordan Jenkins, Paul Worrilow, Frankie Luvu, Brandon Copeland

The New York Jets defense played better than they should’ve in 2019. When you consider the wide array of injuries the team suffered this season:

  • C.J. Mosley
  • Avery Williamson
  • Blake Cashman
  • John Franklin-Myers
  • Trumaine Johnson
  • Kyron Brown

On top of this list of players that ended up on injured reserve, there were countless other players on the roster that were banged up for several different portions of the 2019 season including stud safety Jamal Adams.

The team’s best edge rusher Jordan Jenkins is a pending free agent although there’s optimism on both sides that they can hammer out a long-term extension ahead of free agency in March. Even if they’re able to, the Jets still need more help on the edge.

Jamal Adams was one of the team’s best pass rushers and that’s not a good thing. They need an infusion of youth and talent. There will be several viable options in the free-agent market, trade is certainly an option, and of course, don’t rule out the 2020 NFL Draft.

Next: 3. Time to upgrade around Sam Darnold

3. Wide receivers

Under contract: Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Josh Bellamy, Keon Hatcher, Vyncint Smith, Braxton Berrios.

Pending free agents: Robby Anderson, Demaryius Thomas, Josh Malone, Jeff Smith.

You could make an argument that ‘wide receiver’ deserves to be higher on the list of needs for the New York Jets this offseason. The New York Jets haven’t had a true No. 1 wide receiver since (Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker) and they haven’t had a long-term No. 1 wideout since Keyshawn Johnson.

Robby Anderson is a pending free agent and he refuses to sign with the green and white ahead of free agency. This means the team will be bidding against the other 31 teams in the NFL and that’s not a good sign that he’ll be with the Jets next season.

Outside of that, the Jets will lose a veteran and a few role players, but the only constant that is guaranteed to be on the team in 2020 is Jamison Crowder. Enunwa could retire or be cut due to obvious reasons. Vyncint Smith is an intriguing developmental guy, but that’s it.

If Gang Green is serious about competing next season they can’t do it with this island of misfit toys, they’ll need some bonafide weapons from free agency (which is an overall weak class) and/or the 2020 NFL Draft.

Fortunately for the New York Jets, draft analysts consider this one of the deepest wide receiver classes we’ve seen in well over a decade. It seems like the bread and butter of this class resides on Day 2 (second and third round), which the Jets have three picks (1 second, 2 thirds).

Next: 2. Bigger need than people are saying

Trumaine Johnson, who hasn’t talked to the media since he went on IR at midseason, blows off reporters like only he can. Adios. #Jets pic.twitter.com/dLfFHyNAvk

— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) December 30, 2019

2. Cornerback

Under contract: Kyron Brown, Trumaine Johnson (not for long), Darryl Roberts, Nate Hairston, Bless Austin.

Pending free agents: Brian Poole, Maurice Canady, Arthur Maulet, Bennett Jackson.

The cornerback depth issues for the New York Jets can’t be understated. The team’s No. 1 corner, Trumaine Johnson, was the worst bust in team history as a free agent signing. While technically he’s listed on the roster, he won’t be for long he’ll 100 percent be a cap casualty.

Which then leaves the Jets with Kyron Brown, Darryl Roberts (another possible cap casualty), Nate Hairston, and Bless Austin. Yikes.

Bless showed a lot of potential, but you can’t go into a season without a backup plan. Hopefully, the team retains free-agent-to-be Poole and Maulet (RFA) to at least maintain some level of depth.

Here are some of the top options available in free agency:

  • Chris Harris, Denver Broncos
  • Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens
  • Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans
  • Bradley Roby, Houston Texans
  • Ronald Darby, Philadelphia Eagles

Here are some of the top options available in the 2020 NFL Draft:

  • Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
  • Kristian Fulton, LSU
  • C.J. Henderson, Florida
  • Paulson Adebo, Stanford
  • Bryce Hall, Virginia

Next: 1. Clearly the No. 1 need for Gang Green

1. Offensive line

Under contract: Ben Braden, Jonotthan Harrison, Conor McDermott, Corbin Kaufusi, Brad Lundblade, James Murray, Chuma Edoga, Brian Winters.

Pending free agents: Tom Compton, Alex Lewis, Ryan Kalil, Kelvin Beachum, Brent Qvale, Brandon Shell, Leo Koloamatangi.

This should be no surprise to anyone who has watched the New York Jets over the last few years, but especially in 2019. The offensive line is the No. 1 priority for the team this offseason.

The team has three of their starters set to hit the free-agent market (Ryan Kalil, Kelvin Beachum, and Brandon Shell), another one was released mid-season (Kelechi Osemele), and the last one could be a cap casualty (Brian Winters).

This team could do a complete makeover with five new starters from the start of 2019 to the start of 2020. Although an overhaul of that magnitude is probably unlikely due to the assets it would take to make that happen. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The good news is the Jets have over $60 million in cap space. They can create an additional $25 to $30 million with some trimming of the roster (full details here).

There are several big-name dudes who will be available during the free agency run. Especially on the interior with guys like Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney.

On top of free agency, the team has eight selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. Don’t be shocked if the team takes two or three offensive linemen this April to try and solidify the trenches.

Next. New York Jets: Top 10 2020 NFL free agents Gang Green should chase

In 2019 Sam Darnold showed flashes if the team wants to make those more consistent they have to rebuild the offense around Darnold. Rectifying the offensive line would go a long way to helping that cause.

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