The NY Jets could see some familiar faces return in 2020. Here is a full comprehensive list of the top 5 former players who could be back.
The NY Jets have a litany of holes to fill this offseason. Whether that is at backup quarterback, edge rusher, cornerback, offensive line, wide receiver, I mean we could go on and on. Which shouldn’t be overly surprising coming off of a 7-9 campaign and the ninth straight year without a postseason berth.
The green and white do have several assets in the 2020 NFL Draft and in terms of cap space. With that being said, Rome wasn’t built in a day so we must temper expectations on how many leaks can be fixed in a single offseason.
Although with over $50 million in cap space it would behoove the green and white to get a little creative with their spending. Instead of just chasing big-name free agents that’ll cost tons of money, perhaps they can try something different this time around. One way that they can finagle the cap is by selectively spending during free agency.
We dug up five former NY Jets of the past that could return to Gang Green in 2020. This would provide a cheap alternative to fill the variety of holes on the roster so the team can get back to competing for the postseason.
Next: 5. A fan favorite returns
5. Damon “Snacks” Harrison
Damon Harrison is the kind of player you want to root for. He was born and raised in Lousiana and only got into football by accident. He wanted to play basketball and was a guard in high school but after injuring his knee he put on a bunch of weight and decided to give football a try.
Since he started his football career so late he was passed over by colleges/scouts and didn’t receive any scholarship offers. Initially, he enrolled in a community college but dropped out to make some money as a night stocker.
Eventually, he returned to football at William Penn University had a solid college career then went unselected in the 2012 NFL Draft. Shortly after he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jets and the rest was history.
Harrison eventually got playing time due to a rash of injuries on the team’s defensive line and he didn’t disappoint. He became a fan favorite and one of the elite run stuffers in all of football. The Jets decided to let him hit free agency because as stout as he was against the run he didn’t produce enough in pass-rushing situations.
Ultimately Harrison signed a monster deal with the cross-town rival NY Giants for a five-year deal for over $46 million with $30 million over the first three years of the deal. After a few years with Big Blue, he was eventually traded to the Detroit Lions.
In late February he was released by the Lions and Harrison called it “a mutual parting of ways.”
This seems like a perfect opportunity for Harrison to rejoin the green and white. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious need for the Jets with them already having Steve McLendon, Quinnen Williams, and Foley Fatukasi. But this would go beyond the field, adding a great locker room guy is exactly what this team needs right now.
Plus it wouldn’t hurt to have him in the defensive line rotation. That’ll keep everyone fresh and it wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive to bring him in.
Next: 4. Controversial player could return to the big apple
4. Geno Smith
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Geno Smith joined a long list of quarterbacks that were selected by the NY Jets and at one point or another was dubbed the savior of the franchise. Back in 2013, he was selected with the 39th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Mark Sanchez era was coming to a brutal end and the fan base was ready for something new and fresh. Geno Smith had his fair share of ups and downs as the quarterback for the Jets playing in 33 games during his four-year run going 12-18 as a starter.
Although the moment that epitomizes his time with Gang Green happened off the field in the locker room when his jaw was reassigned to the floor thanks to former teammate Ik Enemkpali’s fist.
Smith’s golden opportunity was then handed to veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest was history. Once his contract ran out he signed with the NY Giants to back up Eli Manning, then jumped over to the LA Chargers to back up Philip Rivers. Then stayed on the west coast to join the Seattle Seahawks quarterback room with Russell Wilson.
Geno Smith is now 29 years old and is more mature than he was during his days with the Jets. He’d be a nice guy to bring back to the team’s quarterback room. The Jets need a backup quarterback and Smith has handled that task beautifully in LA and Seattle.
Next: 3. Bring back some beef on OL
3. Oday Aboushi/Spencer Long
We’ll give you two for the price is one on this slide.
The NY Jets have neglected the offensive line for far too long. They haven’t properly invested the resources necessary to turn this thing around recently whether that’s big money or premium draft picks.
For those reasons, the team has struggled to consistently protect any quarterback behind the line and why they’ve struggled to run the football.
They haven’t just struggled to find starters, quite frankly they’ve struggled to add depth. With this double-decker addition, the team could add some versatile swing linemen that can play multiple positions in case of injury.
Spencer Long has a team option for the final two years of his deal with the Bills, there’s a chance he could be sent to free agency. Last year for Buffalo he provided invaluable depth at both guard and center for a revamped Bills offensive line.
While another former Jets player is also heading towards free agency and that’s guard Oday Aboushi. He hasn’t played for the team in five years, but he’s a valuable reserve that has bounced around the league: Houston Texans (2015-16), Seattle Seahawks (2017), Oakland Raiders/Arizona Cardinals (2018), and Detroit Lions (2019).
Next: 2. A wise sage returns to the offense
2. Josh McCown
If Geno Smith isn’t your flavor, perhaps Josh McCown is?
We all thought McCown had finally hung up his cleats after 16 years in the pros, but he received an offer from the Philadelphia Eagles that he simply couldn’t refuse and returned for his 17th season in the league.
It proved to be a special season and Josh McCown played in his first-ever playoff game with the Eagles at the ripe age of 40. Not only did he suit back up in the pros and make some nice pocket change, but he also was able to coach his kid’s high school games around his busy NFL schedule.
McCown is obviously a great influence wherever he goes. Despite playing for nine different NFL franchises, all of his visits ended amicably. You won’t find one person he worked with that’ll tell you a bad thing about him.
Also, McCown and Sam Darnold had a very special relationship that you could see both on and off the field. The only problem with this potential reunion is age. McCown will be 41 before the start of the 2020 season and it’s fair to ask how much he has left in the tank.
If the team did bring back McCown for another run in 2020 it would simply be delaying their issue at backup quarterback. Josh wouldn’t be a bad stop-gap, but eventually, the team would need to find a long-term answer for the backup quarterback position.
Next: 1. Folklore
1. Nick Folk
The most likely player to return in 2020 is none other than ‘Folk Hero’ Nick Folk! Folk is 35 years old and he’s still kicking.
Last season Folk played for the New England Patriots but he struggled with injuries and inconsistency. Although overall when you look at his career arc, he’s been wildly consistent and dare I say exceptional. He’s just outside the top-50 most accurate kickers in NFL history per Pro Football Reference.
The NY Jets had some obvious kicking issues last season and the guy they ended up with, Sam Ficken, was fine but unspectacular. It’s time to go back to a tried and true option.
Nick Folk spent seven seasons with the green and white and overall was solid at an 82% conversion rate (57-of-65 field goals made).
Although he was best known for his clutch field goals during the team’s 2010 postseason run including the wildcard round when the Jets upset the Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts thanks to a clutch Folk field goal in the waning seconds.
Age is really just a number for a kicker so that’s irrelevant. What the NY Jets need is a reliable leg that can convert when called upon. Folk has been that guy in the past, why can’t he do it again?