The NY Jets are expected to be major players in free agency this year and with plenty of needs to address, they should have no problem making a big splash or two.
The NY Jets go into the 2020 offseason with a roster that needs plenty of work. After making a few big-name splashes last March, the team will surely be looking to do the same again in the coming weeks.
Only they’ll be hoping that those offseason pickups have a much larger impact than their 2019 acquisitions.
The Jets will turn to free agency first as they look to address some of their biggest needs. With a roster lacking playmakers at some of football’s most important positions, this offseason will a crucial one for general manager Joe Douglas.
That’s doubly true considering the fact that it’ll be his first offseason with the organization.
The NFL Draft is always significant, but before the draft comes free agency. And that’s where the Jets could put their near $60 million in cap space to use.
With that let’s take a look at the three biggest needs the Jets must address in free agency.
Next: 3. Edge Rusher
3. Edge Rusher
The third spot on our list was a close call between edge rusher and wide receiver. But given how deep the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft class is expected to be at receiver, it makes sense for the Jets to primarily address that need in late April.
Instead, edge rusher is something that should be addressed in free agency.
For years, the Jets have all but ignored the edge rusher position instead opting for veteran stop-gaps or average starters. It’s about time the team added a true difference-maker and this free-agent class could be their ticket to success.
The likes of Jadeveon Clowney, Dante Fowler, and Yannick Ngakoue all could hit the open market with the first two being the most likely. Ngakoue could be franchise tagged by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but expect him to be playing for a new team in 2020 one way or another.
Now, Clowney would likely be very expensive and Fowler certainly wouldn’t be cheap either. Other cheaper options who could be targets as well include players like Markus Golden, Vic Beasley, or even Shaq Lawson.
Perhaps the most realistic, intriguing option is Fowler who the Jets have been connected to for quite some time now.
Of course, the Jets will first have to worry about their own internal business with Jordan Jenkins set to hit free agency. Bringing Jenkins back and pairing him with another, more accomplished pass rusher is the ideal scenario.
But if Jenkins walks, the edge rusher position becomes a dire situation for Gang Green.
Either way, expect the team to make some sort of a move here in the next couple of weeks.
Next: 2. Cornerback
The Jets went into the 2019 season with a horrible plan for the cornerback position on paper. So it wasn’t really a surprise when that plan failed miserably once the season began.
Week 1 starters Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts were quickly replaced once it became clear that neither was a legitimate starting-caliber player. And if it wasn’t for some mid-season diamonds in the rough and Gregg Williams magic, who knows where the Jets defense would have been.
Nonetheless, the Jets can ill-afford to ignore the cornerback position for a second straight offseason.
The Trumaine Johnson experiment was a massive failure, to say the least, and Roberts proved to be nothing more than a one-year wonder. Expect both to be released from their contracts before long.
Sixth-round rookie Blessuan Austin impressed enough to warrant consideration for a starting job in 2020, but given his limited sample size and extensive injury history, it seems foolish to rely on him as a starter.
Not to mention that the team doesn’t exactly have a plan opposite him.
Nickel cornerback Brian Poole will need to be re-signed after the former Atlanta Falcons defensive back put together a career year in 2019. But even if he is re-signed, the Jets need some help on the boundary.
Perhaps that means they could target one of the top names on the market such as Byron Jones, James Bradberry, or Chris Harris Jr. Or maybe they opt for a cheaper, less notable name like Prince Amukamara.
Either way, something needs to be done and free agency gives the Jets their best chance to truly make a difference.
Next: 1. Offensive Line
1. Offensive Line
There is no argument to be made here. There remains no position of more importance this offseason than the offensive line. And until the Jets bring in three or four new starters, it must remain the top priority in both free agency and the draft.
Fortunately, this is a great year to need offensive line help.
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It’s been well-documented just how stacked the upcoming draft class is at offensive tackle with four expected to be selected in the top-15 picks alone. However, the free-agent class is perhaps just as deep.
High-profile names such as Brandon Scherff, Jack Conklin, and Joe Thuney highlight what could be one of the most star-studded free agents crops of offensive linemen in years. And even behind them, there’s depth to this class.
There is no excuse for the Jets not to come away with at least two starting-caliber linemen in free agency with the hopes that one of them is a top-market name like Conklin or Thuney.
This doesn’t mean that the team can’t still double-down and address the position heavily in the draft as well. In fact, that’s likely the smartest decision to make.
However, in terms of needs to address in free agency, the offensive line must absolutely be the Jets’ No. 1 priority.