The NY Jets look improved, but these three free agents would still fill starting role on the team.
The NY Jets seem to be done with any notable spending this offseason and with training camp rosters expected to shrink to around 75 players, it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t make another signing before the start of the season.
Now that the dust has settled, the Jets’ roster certainly looks improved on paper. General manager Joe Douglas seemingly did a good job of addressing the team’s most pressing needs in the offseason.
He built depth all around the roster, addressed some of the most glaring holes, and helped make quarterback Sam Darnold’s job easier going into 2020. At least, that’s the hope anyway.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of players on the roster who could still provide value. Perhaps some of them could even be starters for the Jets.
Now, the point of this discussion isn’t to insist that the Jets should sign these players. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that the team shouldn’t sign any of these players.
But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t better than any current option on the roster.
With that, let’s take a look at three remaining free agents who would be starters on the Jets.
Next: 3. Larry Warford
3. Larry Warford could start for the NY Jets
It seems stunning that Larry Warford is still on the market after being released by the New Orleans Saints way back in early May. But now approaching the middle of July, his market seems to have stagnated.
When Warford was released, the expectation was that teams would be pounding the table for the standout offensive guard. After all, Warford had made the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons and was still playing at a pretty high level.
But alas, the Jets were seemingly never interested and they certainly don’t seem to be alone.
There’s likely more than meets the eye with Warford. Sure, his play may have slipped a little last season, but he’s still only 29-years-old and hasn’t missed more than three games in a season in his seven-year career.
He’s durable and seemingly an above-average starter. So what gives?
It’s very likely that Warford has received some offers but that his asking price is too high or he’s waiting for the right deal. Either way, a stint with the Jets feels incredibly improbable.
But that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be a huge upgrade for the Jets’ offensive line.
The projected starting guards going into Week 1 are Alex Lewis and free-agent signing Greg Van Roten with veteran Brian Winters competing for playing time as well. Warford would undoubtedly be an upgrade over Lewis and could easily take Winters’ spot on the roster.
A signing seems very unlikely, but Warford could absolutely step in on the Jets roster and start Week 1.
Next: 2. Jadeveon Clowney
2. Jadeveon Clowney could start for the NY Jets
As surprising as it is to still see Warford on the open market in mid-July, it’s even more shocking to see Jadeveon Clowney available this late in the offseason.
The former No. 1 overall pick entered the offseason as one of the most notable options on the free-agent market. But despite plenty of rumored interest from a host of teams, Clowney remains a free agent.
His reported asking price of upwards to $20 million per year at the start of free agency likely has something to do with that and while he’s probably come down from that price a little, it’s clear he isn’t willing to compromise.
Clowney is standing by his valuation and teams are as well. One of those teams is the Jets who did have some reported interest in Clowney earlier in the offseason before realizing it was a battle they were never going to win.
Joe Douglas would love to land Clowney, but at his own price.
What’s been lost in this entire situation is just how great of a player Clowney truly is. While he won’t blow anyone away with his sack production, Clowney remains an elite run-defender — perhaps the best at his position in the NFL.
And his pass-rush abilities have seemingly been underrated as, despite a disappointing three-sack performance a year ago, his 79.1 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus was still well above-average.
Not to mention the fact that he had 18.5 sacks from 2017 to 2018 as well. Clowney is a very good player, and there’s no doubt that he would immediately be the best edge rusher on the Jets by a wide margin.
A signing doesn’t seem imminent, but Clowney is likely the best player remaining on the market and he’d be an immediate upgrade for the Jets.
Next: 1. Jason Peters
1. Jason Peters could start for the NY Jets
Jumping back to the offensive line, Warford isn’t the only remaining free agent who would immediately provide a major boost to the offense. Nine-time Pro Bowler and potential future Hall of Famer Jason Peters is still available as well.
And despite his age (38-years-old), he’s still playing at an incredibly high level.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets: 3 non-quarterback trade targets on offense
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
- NY Jets: Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Joe Thuney
- NY Jets officially place the franchise tag on safety Marcus Maye
Peters started 13 games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 and even at age 37, he still put together an elite season allowing just three sacks while earning a fantastic 83.4 grade from Pro Football Focus that ranked him as the No. 6 offensive tackle in the NFL.
It’s likely that he’s still a top-10 player at his position, but his age and recent injury history (he missed three games last season and 13 games in 2017) have likely scared some teams away.
From a pure talent perspective, however, Peters would be the Jets’ best offensive lineman from day one.
Mekhi Becton would likely still get the start at left tackle, but Peters could move over to the right side — something he’s indicated he’s willing to do — replacing the duo of Chuma Edoga and George Fant.
Again, this very likely isn’t going to happen. The Jets will be paying Fant over $7 million this season and still see Edoga as a possible starter of the future. They’re content rolling into next season with those two competing for the starting job.
But Peters would undoubtedly be an improvement over both of them, even if it’s just a pipe dream at this point.