NY Jets: 3 players the team should have signed in free agency
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets have been relatively quiet to start free agency this year, and it may have cost them a chance at some good free agents. Here are three players the Jets should have signed.
The NY Jets haven’t exactly had the offseason that many were expecting them to have so far. It’s still early, but the initial return on free agency has been less than stellar.
The signing of former Seattle swing tackle George Fant left much to be desired while the re-signing of fringe starter Alex Lewis didn’t excite the masses.
The Tuesday evening signing of Connor McGovern was certainly a welcome change of pace, but the Jets haven’t been as active as many people thought they would be.
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That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the goal is always to build primarily through the draft. General manager Joe Douglas knows this very well so he won’t be quick to jump at all of the top names on the market.
But sometimes teams miss out on deals that they maybe should have made. Even if the draft should be the primary tool to construct a roster, that doesn’t mean that free agency can’t still be an effective resource.
Some of the Jets’ reported targets are better off playing elsewhere given their large contracts or overrated abilities. But the three players on this list were all either signed to affordable or reasonable deals given their skill level.
Let’s take a look at three players the Jets should have signed during the first two days of free agency.
Next: 3. Case Keenum
3. Case Keenum, QB
This one might surprise a few people, but the Jets are in the market for a backup quarterback this offseason — and veteran Case Keenum was likely the top choice available.
Unfortunately, the seven-year veteran was signed by the Cleveland Browns to a three-year, $18 million deal with $10 million guaranteed on Monday. The Browns were smart and recognized the importance of a backup quarterback.
The Jets might have to learn the hard way again.
Gang Green saw the significance of having a reliable backup QB last season when Sam Darnold went down in Week 1. The team believed they had one in Trevor Siemian, but a broken leg suffered in Week 2 threw those plans out the window.
Now, Siemian’s injury isn’t the Jets’ fault. But the Darnold absence shows just how valuable having a backup quarterback is.
Perhaps they could bring back Siemian who is actually a solid option, so long as he’s recovered from his injury. But Keenum was their best chance at landing a very dependable veteran backup who could not only start in a pinch, but serve as a mentor to Darnold.
The Browns jumped early and got their guy to do the same for Baker Mayfield at a very reasonable price.
The Jets may be left with the bottom of the barrel.
Next: 2. Byron Jones
2. Byron Jones, CB
The Jets aren’t only looking at help on offense this offseason, although that is the primary focus. Two positions on defense need addressing in a big way — cornerback and edge rusher.
So far, nothing has been done for either.
Again, it’s still very early and far too soon to make any declarative statements about the outcome of free agency. But it isn’t too soon to say that the Jets missed out on their best option.
Byron Jones and James Bradberry headlined what was a pretty solid crop of free-agent cornerbacks. Bradberry wasn’t going to be worth the hefty price tag it would take to land him, but Jones certainly was.
The Jets showed interest but it was ultimately the Miami Dolphins who came away with the former Dallas Cowboys star signing him to a massive five-year, $82 million contract.
Now, that’s quite the contract — one that makes him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. But for a Jets team lacking a No. 1 cornerback — and arguably lacking a reliable starter — Jones would give them just that.
Despite the low turnover numbers, Jones has developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. And given his age, 27-years-old, and high level of play, he was always going to get paid a large sum of money on the open market.
The Jets should have been the ones to give him that large sum. Now, they’ll have to play him twice a year, instead.
Next: 1. Graham Glasgow
1. Graham Glasgow
With an eye on upgrading the offensive line in the offseason, the Jets made it clear that two players were at the top of their priority list — New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney and Detroit Lions interior lineman Graham Glasgow.
Unfortunately, a wrench was thrown into their plans when Thuney was franchise-tagged just minutes before the legal tampering period officially began. That left Glasgow as the clear-cut top interior option available.
The Jets still showed plenty of interest in Glasgow, but they were ultimately beat out by the Denver Broncos who signed the versatile lineman to a four-year, $44 million contract with $25 million guaranteed.
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That would make Glasgow the sixth-highest-paid center or the seventh-highest-paid guard depending on where the Jets chose to play him. Either way, the money would have been worth the significant upgrade.
Instead, the Jets signed swing tackle George Fant and re-signed below-average guard Alex Lewis as their first two offensive line moves. The Connor McGovern signing helps, but why not sign both?
Both Glasgow and McGovern have experience playing center and guard and both are easy upgrades over Lewis and current right guard Brian Winters. The Jets had the cap space to match Denver’s offer, so why didn’t they?
Clearly Joe Douglas had a number he didn’t want to surpass. On one head, he should be commended for not paying more than he thought was fair. Former general manager Mike Maccagnan could have learned something from that.
That said, Glasgow was worth the $11 million per season that it took for the Broncos to land him. And if the Jets signed by Glasgow and McGovern, we’re looking at this offensive line in a very different way right now.
They still have time to address the offensive line, but losing out on Glasgow was a miss that the Jets didn’t need.