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NY Jets: Breaking down 2020 ESPN offseason free agency predictions

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 29: Outside linebacker Matt Judon #99 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 29: Outside linebacker Matt Judon #99 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
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NY Jets (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

What kinds of crazy moves could the NY Jets make this offseason? ESPN did a massive prediction article and we decided to rank and grade the moves.

This offseason is pivotal for the Adam Gase and Joe Douglas NY Jets regime. They have $60 million currently in projected cap space with the opportunity to create some more with some roster finagling.

On Monday morning ESPN columnist Bill Barnwell laid out a massive interactive article predicting the top 2020 offseason dominoes. It featured eight-star players, 144 possible moves, and how it all plays out.

In this crazy article, the NY Jets are featured in 10 separate possible scenarios that featured big-time free-agent additions, strange trades that bring in prime-time talent, and even some moving of 2020 NFL Draft picks.

Here’s a full breakdown and report card of every scenario where Bill Barnwell mentioned the NY Jets.

Next: 7. NY Jets, Ravens make big-time trade

“Rumors have already suggested the Ravens are shopping Judon, who will be an unrestricted free agent. As the Chiefs did with Dee Ford, Baltimore could franchise-tag Judon before trading him. The Jets desperately need a pass-rusher across from Jordan Jenkins; they send pick Nos. 48 and 138 to add Judon, who had 33 quarterback hits this past season.”

On the surface this potential reunion makes sense.

The NY Jets have a clear need for an edge rusher. Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon is set to be a free agent after a career-year (9.5 sacks). Joe Douglas, the current general manager for the Jets, has ties to the Ravens organization.

Here’s what makes zero sense. Trading multiple picks away for a player that is set to be a free agent.

The NY Jets should be in the business of acquiring picks, not giving them away for no reason. If the Ravens are hell-bent on trading Judon, then the Jets should look at the bevy of other free-agent options that will be sitting out there.

This potential move receives a fat F-, the player makes sense, but trading for him makes zero sense. 

Next: 6. Le'Veon Bell gets moved, then replaced

“There’s no way the Jets will get meaningful value for Bell, whose contract is underwater, but they might be able to dump salary if they attach a draft pick. I’d love to see Bell in Bruce Arians’ system, though Tampa would be on the hook for $13.5 million in 2020. The Jets might be able to make this deal without attaching a draft pick if they eat some of his contract.”

What in the bloody hell is going on here?

These should be the only two options the NY Jets consider with their All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell this offseason.

  1. Keep him because he’s stupidly talented and his mere presence helps Sam Darnold out on offense.
  2. Or you potentially trade him if an offer overwhelms you this offseason. The more we dig in on this possibility it seems more and more unlikely.

To reiterate the Jets should be in the market of acquiring draft capital, not handing it away. Especially in this specific situation where the Jets are giving away a star talent and a draft pick just to get rid of the salary.

RB Jordan Howard. . 54. . .

JORDAN HOWARD SIGNS A ONE-YEAR, $1.5 MILLION DEAL WITH THE JETS

“Without Bell in the fold, the Jets suddenly have a hole at running back. Adam Gase has long struggled to find a running back solution, but Howard is a cheap short-term investment who played under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in Chicago.”

In this scenario, the Jets traded away Bell which leaves them without a fourth-round pick and with a large void in the backfield. So in addition Barnwell has the green and white taking a flier on veteran running back Jordan Howard on a one-year deal for $1.5 million.

It’s not sexy and considering what they gave away in Bell makes this all the more unappealing.

This potential option deserves another terrible grade: F. The Jets need to find a way to keep Bell and gain draft picks, not give them away. 

Next: 5. Jets pay up for big-time CB

CB Chris Harris Jr. . 45. . .

“Can you name the only cornerback with an average annual salary of $15 million? It’s Josh Norman. Jalen Ramsey will likely sign a record-setting deal soon, but Harris might be the next to top that $15 million mark. The Jets desperately need help at cornerback and will clear out Trumaine Johnson’s deal this offseason.”

The NY Jets swung and missed on Trumaine Johnson a few years ago to the tune of $72 million. Now the team dives back into the deep end of the free agency pool with a record-setting four year $62 million contract.

Chris Harris Jr is a talented corner and someone will pay him this offseason. But he’s on the wrong side of 30 and will be 31 by the start of the 2020 season. Is that someone you want to hand a four-year deal to for top of the market value?

At least this possible scenario from Bill Barnwell makes more sense than anything else we’ve evaluated thus far.

Ultimately this potential move receives a C+. It’s obviously a position of need, but the exorbitant price seems like you’re playing Chris Harris Jr for what he’s done in the past, not necessarily what he’ll provide in the future. 

Next: 4. NYJ snags a CB replacement

. . . CB Logan Ryan. . 35

“Ryan had an active season in Tennessee; he was the nearest defender in coverage on 99 targets, the fifth-most in football. Trumaine Johnson is almost surely going to be cut by the Jets, and Brian Poole is a free agent, so Ryan could step in as a much-needed starting corner outside or (preferably) in the slot.”

This is another move that makes sense on paper. The NY Jets fill a need at corner and do it with a cheaper deal than what they would’ve given Chris Harris Jr.

Harris’ deal averaged out to $15.5 million on the projected deal in the last slide. This projected three-year deal for $42 million pays out around $14 million annually.

In Barnwell’s assessment above he’d like to see the Jets pay Logan Ryan that paper bag full of cash to play in the slot. If that’s what he would project as, the NY Jets should take a hard pass.

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Brian Poole played in the slot last year for the Jets and was terrific. He’s projected to receive a much smaller deal on the open market than Logan Ryan, so the team should just retain him instead of getting a more expensive car that does the same thing.

This move receives a C+ from us. If you bring him in to play outside corner, maybe you can sell us on the deal. Overall the Jets should look to retain Brian Poole over bringing in a new guy for more money.

Next: 3. Gang Green snags a pair of WRs

. . . WR Emmanuel Sanders . . 42

“With Quincy Enunwa’s future uncertain after suffering his second neck injury in three years, the Jets could add a replacement for the 27-year-old by signing Sanders. The SMU product played well after returning from a torn Achilles and enjoyed his time under Jets coach Adam Gase when both were in Denver.”

This would reunite Adam Gase with Emmanuel Sanders this offseason. The projected deal is four years for $40 million, with a cool average of $10 million per season.

The big question with this move is Emmanuel Sanders a No. 1 wide receiver? The court of public opinion would say no and his statistical achievements would also say no.

Emmanuel just completed his 10th professional season and he hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiving campaign since 2014. Sanders is a talented dude and would certainly add to the NY Jets offense.

124. . . . WR Sammy Watkins.

“New York was supposed to get Sam Darnold some weapons in the 2019 offseason. The Jets still need to get Darnold weapons in 2020. Signing Watkins would give them a more physically impactful option. While he has disappeared at times in Kansas City, Watkins’ numbers would likely improve as the No. 1 target in New York.”

In this scenario, the NY Jets would double-dip at the position. Sammy Watkins is a huge cap casualty candidate for the Kansas City Chiefs. The team could save $7 million by cutting him.

If that were to happen the 26-year old (will be 27 by the start of the 2020 season) would sign a three year deal with the NY Jets (for an unspecified amount).

Watkins has at times been labeled a No. 1 wide receiver throughout his career. Although he’s only had one 1,000 yard receiving campaign in his six-year NFL career (that was back in 2015 with the Buffalo Bills).

Sammy could help Sam Darnold out tremendously in this offense with his speed, but his propensity to disappear off the face of the Earth for weeks at a time is alarming.

If the NY Jets made these two moves it would receive a B-, it’s not great, but it’s not terrible. Obviously these two would increase the talent level immediately of Gang Green’s receiving core.

Next: 2. NYJ revamp OL

. . OT DJ Humphries. . 32.

“Humphries just finished his first full healthy season as a pro, but the Jets are desperate for offensive line help. The former first-rounder has played just 43 games during his five years in the desert, and he could be one of the top veteran options available in free agency. New York left tackle Kelvin Beachum is also a free agent, so the Jets have a hole to fill.”

This would be an expensive deep dive for the NY Jets at a critical position of need. In this scenario, the green and white would dole out $56 million over a four-year deal. That averages out to $14 million per season.

Humphries can play both left and right tackle which is a plus, but his durability concerns are legitimate. This may be an area the team is forced to overpay.

. C Ben Garland. . 42. .

“After the Ryan Kalil experiment went disastrously, Adam Gase will be looking for a new center this offseason. Garland has earned a long-term deal from some team after he impressed for the 49ers, where he has ably replaced the injured Weston Richburg.”

Not only do the Jets add to their offensive tackle room, but they also grab a future option at the center spot. Ben Garland in this projection would sign a three-year deal for $18 million which averages out to $6 million per season.

Garland has been in the league since 2012 and has only started 10 games in his career. So the lack of true starting experience is a concern, but he’s played in 63 career games. This would be a nice under the radar addition paired with the big money invested in DJ.

This dynamic duo receives a B+ because the team needs offensive line help. Garland won’t win any beauty contests but if he gets the job done at center and Humphries can stay healthy (a huge if) this could work out great. 

Next: 1. Jets pay premium price for OT

. . . OT Jack Conklin. . 35

“Gang Green’s recent big-ticket free-agent signings have mostly been disasters, but under new general manager Joe Douglas, they probably need to go back into the market for at least one significant offensive lineman. With no great left tackles available, signing the best right tackle on the board makes sense, but he’ll be expensive.”

The NY Jets need to come away from this free-agent period with at least one marquee big-time offensive lineman. The two that stand out are Joe Thuney of the New England Patriots and Jack Conklin of the Tennessee Titans.

This is where need meets fit which meets money demands.

If the NY Jets want Jack Conklin it’ll cost $80 million over five years. It’ll cost a record-breaking $16 million per season.

Sources within the Jets indicate that they feel very strongly about the future of Chuma Edoga. If that’s true, perhaps the Jets will pass on Conklin, but in this scenario, the team lands a young right tackle as a building block on the offensive line.

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

A+ if the NY Jets are able to pull this off. This would lock in their right tackle of the future and help build a fortress around Sam Darnold.

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