NY Jets: 3 players on the hot seat entering the 2020 season
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets have made plenty of changes thus far in the offseason and that’s left these three players on the hot seat entering 2020.
When the NY Jets take the field again in 2020 we will be looking at a very different team. Sure many of the more notable holdovers will still be there, but general manager Joe Douglas made it clear that he intended to overhaul a ton of the roster this offseason.
And in all honesty, who could blame him?
The offensive line has received a makeover and the same will soon be true for the wide receiver position. And on defense, the Jets are expected to have new starters at edge rusher and cornerback.
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The new additions have left a few players who held prominent roles in 2019 fighting for their Jets futures. From struggling youngsters to disappointing veterans, these three players all fell short of expectations last season.
And if they’re to remain a part of the organization going forward, they’re going to have to step up their game in 2020. As such, they remain firmly on the hot seat.
Let’s take a look at those three players with the most to prove in 2020.
Next: 3. Chuma Edoga
3. Chuma Edoga, OT
The Jets knew that USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga was going to be a long-term project when the originally selected him in the third round of last year’s NFL Draft.
But that didn’t stop the rookie from being forced into action early on in the season.
After a disastrous start to the year headlined by the atrocious play of the team’s offensive line, the Jets decided to give Edoga a shot at right tackle in place of Brandon Shell. And as expected, the young 22-year-old struggled mightily.
Edoga would go on to start eight games in 2019 — five of which were at right tackle — and it’s safe to say that he would have liked better results. Pro Football Focus gave him a horrendous 48.9 grade and he remained a weak link on an already weak Jets offensive line.
But the Jets clearly see potential in the former USC standout and he’s expected to compete for a starting job in 2020. The chances are that he’s the team’s Week 1 starter at right tackle.
It will be easy to write Edoga’s 2019 season off as simple rookie struggles if he comes out strong in 2020. But the pressure will certainly be on for him to perform with a year now under his belt.
The Jets will be patient with Edoga, but they have enough depth with free-agent signing George Fant and an expected high draft pick that they don’t have to stand idly by and watch Edoga falter.
He will be replaced if he continues to struggle, that’s a fact.
The Jets still hope that Edoga will be a long-term starter on the offensive line, but he’ll have to prove himself in 2020.
Next: 2. Henry Anderson
2. Henry Anderson, DL
In the midst of a disappointing season for the Jets, Henry Anderson was quietly one of the team’s biggest disappointments.
After breaking out with a seven-sack season in his first year with the Jets, Anderson took a major step back in 2019 finishing the year with just one sack despite starting 13 games.
The former Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman not only saw his pass-rush production take a hit, but his overall level of play dropped significantly. Anderson’s PFF grade tanked in 2019 as he finished with an abysmal 55.8 grade.
That was in stark contrast to his 2018 grade of 76.5 which ranked 36th among all interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Moreover, the former Stanford standout finished with 48 total pressures which ranked 12th in the league at his position.
But in 2019, he got his hands on the quarterback just nine times.
Anderson has an out in his contract after 2020 that will allow the Jets to move on with just $1.3 million in cap space. That’s good news considering the young depth the team has at the position and Anderson’s $9+ million cap hit in 2021.
It will take an effort closer to his 2018 campaign to convince the Jets’ front office that he needs to be back in 2021. And for that reason, Anderson finds himself firmly on the hot seat.
Next: 1. Le'Veon Bell
1. Le’Veon Bell, RB
Look, we all know that what happened with Le’Veon Bell in 2019 wasn’t entirely his fault. But that doesn’t change the fact that it did happen.
The Jets signed Bell to a massive four-year, $52.5 million contract in March of last year with the hope that he would be their best offensive playmaker in decades. Instead, Bell recorded career-lows in essentially every statistic en route to his worst season as a professional.
Bell averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and rushed for under 800 yards despite carrying the ball a whopping 245 times. Not exactly the numbers the Jets were expecting from a player they’re paying over $13 million per season.
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Again, this was not entirely his fault.
Bell was tasked with running behind one of the worst run-blocking offensive lines in the NFL and head coach Adam Gase struggled to find use for one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the game.
It wasn’t completely his fault, but it was clear that Bell didn’t seem like his old self in 2019. His play regressed, and that’s not entirely due to his situation
Much like Anderson, the Jets have an out in Bell’s contract after the 2020 season that will cost them just $4 million in dead cap — far less than his $13.5 million cap hit in each of the next two seasons.
And if Bell performs as he did in 2019, there’s really no sense in keeping him on the roster. If the Jets aren’t going to give Bell the opportunity to excel, then there’s no reason to spend $13.5 million on him going forward.
Bell will have a lot to prove in 2020. Unfortunately, his success will depend on his organization as much as it will his own abilities.