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NY Jets: 4 pending free agents the team should re-sign

NY Jets (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
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NY Jets
NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets should consider re-signing these four free agents this offseason.

The NY Jets are going to overhaul a large portion of their roster in the offseason. Since the arrival of general manager Joe Douglas, the former Philadelphia Eagles executive has done his part to reshape the roster to his liking.

And by this time next year, expect the team to look completely different from how it looks now.

With an abundance of cap space and draft capital at his disposal, Douglas will have plenty of assets to work with as he continues his upheaval of the roster.

That’s good news for the future of the Jets’ organization given that there isn’t very much talent on a team that appears destined to finish 0-16. But at the same time, it’s bad news for pending free agents who are looking to return.

The Jets have 18 players set to become unrestricted free agents this March and a host of other restricted and exclusive-rights free agents. At least for those hitting unrestricted free agency, the vast majority of them likely won’t be re-signed.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few integral players worthy of bringing back.

Which of the Jets’ 18 unrestricted free agents should be re-signed? We take a look at four of the most important players to consider extending.

Next: 4. Neville Hewitt

NY Jets
NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

4. Neville Hewitt, LB, NY Jets

Neville Hewitt is what he is at this point in his career. A stout special-teamer, Hewitt has gotten the chance to fill a starting role with the Jets over the past couple of seasons.

And while his play in 2020 has been better, he’s never going to be anything more than a below-average starter at best.

He’s underwhelming in pass coverage and a bit overrated as a run-defender. Hewitt will rack up his fair share of tackles, but that doesn’t make him one of the better run-stopping inside linebackers in the NFL by any means.

Nonetheless, he’s quality depth at worst and a reliable low-tier starter at best. Throw in his on and off-field leadership and he’s someone you want to keep around.

The Jets shouldn’t go out of their way to re-sign him and if some team comes calling with an exuberant offer, Douglas would be better off passing. But for a short-term deal worth maybe around $4 million per season, Hewitt is worth re-signing.

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C.J. Mosley is due to return next season and the Jets will need a linebacker to pair with him in the middle of the defense. Ideally, someone like Blake Cashman would take that next step, but the former fifth-round pick can’t seem to stay on the field.

Hewitt is a solid, if not unspectacular player — but he’s worth bringing back for the right price.

Next: 3. Joe Flacco

NY Jets
NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

3. Joe Flacco, QB, NY Jets

The Jets are almost certain to have a new quarterback next season. Sam Darnold‘s fate has essentially been sealed and whether it’s Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, the Jets will be restarting at the quarterback position.

But as they’ve seen in the past, having a capable backup is important for any team that wants to compete. And in Joe Flacco, the Jets have that capable backup.

Flacco has started four games this year in place of the injured Darnold, and while his play has been up-and-down at best, he’s proven to be the team’s best quarterback — for better or worse.

The longtime Baltimore Ravens signal-caller has completed only 55 percent of his passes, but he’s thrown for six touchdowns and only three interceptions. He almost signal-handily won the Jets’ their first game of the season against the New England Patriots in Week 9.

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The days of Flacco being a starter are clearly over, but he’s one of the most accomplished backups in the NFL and he’s shown this year that he can still perform at an adequate level, even in spite of poor talent around him.

At 36-years-old, Flacco would be an ideal veteran backup to whoever the Jets bring in next season. Another one-year deal should suffice provided he’s willing to return in 2021.

This isn’t a must sign, but it’s a move the Jets should seriously consider making.

Next: 2. Brian Poole

NY Jets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

2. Brian Poole, CB, NY Jets

The Jets really only have two above-average players set to hit the open market — both of whom play in the secondary. The first that we’re going to talk about is slot cornerback Brian Poole.

The Jets signed Poole prior to the 2019 season looking for an upgrade over Buster Skrine in the slot. Poole was coming off the worst year of his career in 2018, hence why the Jets were able to snag him for a meager one-year, $3.5 million contract.

But the former Atlanta Falcons’ defensive back didn’t waste any time exceeding expectations as he finished as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 9 overall cornerback. And in 2020, he proved that he was no one-year wonder.

Poole followed up his standout 2019 campaign with an arguably even better 2020 finishing with a 77.1 PFF grade that is currently ranked as the eighth-best at his position in the entire NFL.

Unfortunately, a shoulder injury cut his season short after just nine games, but it’s safe to say the 28-year-old will be looking for more than just a one-year contract in the offseason.

Since he’s solely a slot cornerback, his contract likely won’t get too pricey. And for that reason, the Jets should do everything in their power to bring him back.

The Jets are weak enough at cornerback as it is. They can ill-afford to lose their most consistent defensive back over the last two seasons.

Provided his contract doesn’t reset the slot cornerback market, Poole should be back in green and white in 2021.

Next: 1. Marcus Maye

NY Jets
NY Jets

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

1. Marcus Maye, S, NY Jets

The Jets might not have a lot of talent on their roster, but one player who’s proven to be one of the few standouts on an otherwise abysmal team is safety Marcus Maye.

Since the departure of Jamal Adams, Maye has taken on the increased responsibility of the team’s veteran leader in the secondary. And he’s responded by putting together the best season of his career by a long stretch.

The former Florida star is currently PFF’s No. 4 overall safety and his performance couldn’t have come at a better time. Maye is turning 28-years-old in March meaning that this will likely be his only chance to earn big money in free agency.

Expect him to take full advantage of that opportunity.

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The safety position isn’t one of the most valuable positions in football, but the Jets have seen firsthand Maye’s impact this season. He’s taken that next step from above-average starter to an undisputed top-five free safety in the league.

Even if his market is competitive, the Jets need to do what they can to bring him back.

This is a young team and Maye is one of the few holdovers from the previous regime. Assuming Jordan Jenkins isn’t re-signed, Maye would be next-in-line to become the longest-tenured member of the roster.

He’s blossomed into not only an excellent player, but someone who’s embraced his role as a team leader.

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There remains no more important internal free agent in the organization than Marcus Maye.

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