The NY Jets will have a decision to make on these three free agents in the 2021 offseason.
The NY Jets went into the 2020 offseason with decisions to make about the future of a number of their current players. And as with every offseason, the decisions weren’t easy ones to make.
Take the Robby Anderson situation for example. Anderson had developed intO a very quality No. 2 wide receiver over the last few years, but was commanding a new payday on the open market.
The Jets desperately needed help at receiver, but ultimately decided that Anderson wasn’t worth the two-year, $20 million he ended up receiving. That wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was a necessary one.
Expect the team to have plenty more of these difficult choices to make next offseason when a host of other players hit the open market.
Some of these players are veterans who could be looking to return to Gang Green while others will be former Jets draft picks finally hitting free agency for their first chance at a second contract.
Either way, the negotiation process is rarely a simple one.
General manager Joe Douglas did a good job of driving a few hard bargains this past offseason, but will he find the same level of success next winter? That remains to be seen.
Regardless, let’s take a look at three key players on the Jets roster who will be unrestricted free agents next offseason.
Next: 3. Jordan Jenkins
3. Jordan Jenkins, OLB, NY Jets
After four seasons with the Jets, Jordan Jenkins seemed destined to find a new home this offseason. The former third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft had developed into a quality edge rusher over the last few seasons.
Jenkins had managed a combined 15 sacks over the last two seasons and served a valuable role as the team’s most experienced edge defender. However, the Jets didn’t appear too concerned with bringing him back.
With reports surging that Jenkins could make up to $10 million per season on the open market, it seemed all but guaranteed that he would be playing for a different team in 2020.
But Jenkins’ market never developed in the way that he had hoped. And after some convincing from Douglas and some recruiting from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Jenkins opted to return to New York on a dirt-cheap deal.
A meager one-year, $5 million contract is all it took to get Jenkins to return despite the former Georgia star hoping to receive a multi-year deal with as much as $10 million per season.
Jenkins’ contract was one of the steals of the offseason, but the one-year part of it means that he’s set to hit free agency again next year. And don’t expect him to settle for less once again.
If Jenkins puts up similar production in 2020, expect the 26-year-old to look to cash in on what could be his only shot at a sizable free-agent contract.
The Jets got Jenkins back for cheap this offseason, but don’t expect a similar outcome next year.
Next: 2. Marcus Maye
2. Marcus Maye, S, NY Jets
Marcus Maye‘s future in New York wasn’t really much of a concern leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft.
The former Florida standout had put to bed any concerns regarding his injury history by playing in all 16 games for the second time in his three NFL seasons — and he did so by playing perhaps the best football of his career.
However, that all changed when the Jets used their first third-round pick to select Cal safety Ashtyn Davis. The pick was confusing at the time, but it soon became very clear why the Jets opted to do what they did.
They were planning for Maye’s eventual departure and Davis was seen as his long-term replacement.
It seemed pretty certain that Maye would be playing his final year with the Jets in 2020 given that his rookie contract is set to expire. However, perhaps the ongoing dispute with Jamal Adams changes things.
Neither Davis nor Maye can really be seen as a true replacement for Adams, but perhaps the Jets will be more willing to pay Maye if Adams has already been traded.
It’s certainly something worth monitoring, but it does still seem as though Maye might be playing for a new team in 2021. That said, the Adams situation could change everything.
Expect this to one of the more critical decisions the Jets make next offseason.
Next: 1. Brian Poole
1. Brian Poole, CB, NY Jets
This situation is all too similar to the Jordan Jenkins one that we just discussed. Brian Poole went into the 2020 offseason coming off a career year that saw him play like one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL.
His 79.0 Pro Football Focus grade placed him as the No. 9 cornerback in the entire NFL solidifying his status among the elite slot cornerbacks in the league. And given that he was set to hit free agency, most expected him to get paid as such.
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However, that never came to be.
Much like Jenkins, Poole accepted an incredibly team-friendly one-year, $5 million contract to re-sign with the Jets despite the fact that he likely could have gotten much better offers from other teams.
Compare that to the contracts that other top nickel cornerbacks such as Bryce Callahan (3-year, $21 million) and Kenny Moore (4-year, $33.3 million) received in recent years.
Even former Jets’ cornerback Buster Skrine received a three-year, $16.5 million contract worth $5.5 million per year after leaving New York.
It’s truly astounding that the Jets were able to get a player like Poole, who played so well last season, back for the contract that they did. But again, just like Jenkins, don’t expect the same outcome next offseason.
Poole will be 28-years-old when he hits free agency again in 2021 and if he can play anywhere near the level he played at in 2019, then he should finally cash in on a well-deserved payday.
And if the Jets want to keep him around, they better be willing to pay the price.