The NY Jets have made a number of signings this offseason and these three were the team’s best value signings over a week into free agency.
NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas has taken a vastly different approach to free agency than we’ve seen in recent years. After growing accustomed to active free-agency periods with numerous big-name signings, Jets fans have witnessed something different this March.
Douglas has shied away from some of the top names on the market, instead targeting more low-profile players. Rather than go on a shopping spree, Douglas has been hunting for bargains.
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It remains to be seen whether this change in ideology will pay off, but it has allowed the Jets to land a few excellent value deals in the process. They haven’t dished out big money, but when they’ve spent, it’s been wise.
Even their “bigger” contracts given out such as the three-year, $30 million one to George Fant are intelligently constructed to give the team early outs in case things go wrong. Douglas has made sure to avoid placing the Jets in a cap bind any time in the near future.
And in many ways, he’s undoing the mistakes of the previous regime.
With that, let’s take a look at Douglas’ three best value signings of the offseason thus far.
Next: 3. Jordan Jenkins
3. Jordan Jenkins, OLB
What a rollercoaster week it’s been for the Jets and Jordan Jenkins.
Going into free agency, it seemed as though Jenkins would be one of the Jets’ top internal priorities. But by the start of the legal tampering period, reports seemed to indicate that wasn’t the case.
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes reported last Monday that Jenkins was expected to sign “elsewhere” and that the Jets were no longer “in the running to retain him.” It was a surprising development, but one that made sense.
Douglas wasn’t willing to overpay for a player who he didn’t feel was worth upwards to the $9-10 million annual salary he was asking for. Evidently, it seems as though the NFL agreed.
A week went by and Jenkins was still on the open market before he eventually caved and re-signed with the Jets on Monday to a very modest one-year, $5 million deal.
This contract is indicative of a few things. First and foremost, it shows how stingy Douglas is in his negotiations. He sets his value for a player and refuses to go above that figure at all costs. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the Jets.
It’s also indicative of Jenkins’ market not shaping up exactly how he hoped. It’s looking very likely that a similar situation could take place with Robby Anderson as well.
Finally, it’s indicative of the impact of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Jenkins reportedly had offers from the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, but he wanted to play for Williams again.
The Jets were able to bring back Jenkins for a fraction of what they thought he would make on the open market. He may not be a truly stout pass rusher, but he’s a high-character, reliable contributor who brings value to any team he’s on.
And for just $5 million, it’s hard to find a better value signing than that.
Next: 2. Pierre Desir
2. Pierre Desir, CB
The Jets waited a while, but they finally addressed the cornerback position on Monday with the signing of cornerback Pierre Desir. And much like Jenkins, they got another player for a fraction of his true value.
Desir spent the last three seasons playing for the Indianapolis Colts where he managed to transform from journeyman flame-out into an excellent starting-caliber cornerback.
After three middling seasons split between the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers, the Colts claimed Desir off waivers in September of 2017 where he would join the team as their sixth cornerback — behind current teammate Nate Hairston.
However, a struggling Colts secondary forced Desir into action and he impressed when catapulted into a starting role. It was enough to earn him a full-time starter role in 2018 where he would have the best year of his career.
Desir finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 overall cornerback playing on a very underrated Colts defense. The Colts rewarded him with a sizable three-year, $22.5 million extension in the offseason, but he wouldn’t last long on that deal.
The 29-year-old injured his hamstring early in the season and he opted to play through the injury with his team needing secondary help. The results weren’t pretty as Desir regressed to a 58.8 PFF grade, struggling mightily in the process.
The Colts surprisingly cut ties with him this offseason, but it didn’t take long for the promising cornerback to receive multiple offers from other teams. That’s why it’s incredibly impressive that the Jets were able to get him on such a cheap investment.
The Jets essentially landed themselves a starting-caliber cornerback on a one-year, $5 million deal.
Provided Desir returns healthy in 2020 — which there’s no indication that he won’t — this could wind up being one of the best moves of the offseason.
Next: 1. Brian Poole
1. Brian Poole, CB
Going into the offseason, the Jets knew that they had a few internal players that they wanted to re-sign. But perhaps no player was more of a priority to them than slot cornerback Brian Poole.
Poole joined the Jets on a cheap one-year, $3 million deal in 2019 after a disappointing couple of years in Atlanta. After thriving in his rookie season, Poole slowly declined over the next two seasons before the Falcons opted to let him walk.
The former undrafted free agent was brought in to be an upgrade over Buster Skrine — and boy was he.
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Poole finished 2019 as PFF’s No. 9 graded cornerback in the entire league putting together his best season as a professional. The Florida product was expected to cash in in free agency after a career year in 2019.
However, the Jets once again managed to get him on a discount.
Poole, like Desir, was signed to a meager one-year, $5 million contract — only a $2 million pay raise from the previous season. The contract surprised many, but it seems as though there’s a common trend here.
Call it the Gregg Williams effect.
The Jets landed three starting-caliber players for a combined $15 million. And that’s likely underselling just how good Poole is and how good Desir is when healthy.
That’s incredible value and further proof that Joe Douglas is doing his job right this offseason.
The Jets came away with a few excellent steals in free agency, but no signing was of better value than the one for Brian Poole.