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The NY Jets are entering the 2021 offseason in a better position than many initially thought.
It was well known before the season even started that the Jets would have four first-round draft picks over the next two years, as well as over $100 million to play with in free agency once all was said and done.
After the recent hiring of San Fransisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as the Jets’ next head coach, it seems that New York is finally trending in the right direction.
That being said, the team is still coming off a 2-14 season, where their few wins came against two playoff teams who managed to win playoff games.
It is widely speculated that Jets general manager Joe Douglas will be aggressive in free agency this year. News even broke about there being a potential shocking move in the offseason that could be a bombshell to the NFL.
While it seems like the Jets are constantly rebuilding, this year could end up being the perfect storm to end the fans’ suffering.
A ton of teams, either looking to shed cap space or looking to rebuild, could be prime targets for the Jets to make deals with this offseason.
Here are four blockbuster moves Joe Douglas can make this offseason.
Next: 4. A veteran pass-rusher
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4. The NY Jets could trade for J.J. Watt
The Jets have lacked an elite pass-rusher for years. Draft picks upon draft picks have been used on college players, but to no avail.
J.J. Watt is in the twilight of his career and he’s found it difficult to remain on the field as of late. However, with the Houston Texans lacking much draft capital at all, it might not hurt to trade for Watt to help out that young defensive line.
Watt didn’t stand out as much as he normally does this past year, recording just five sacks through 16 contests. That could be partially attributed to Houston’s lack of defensive production, in general.
Just two years removed from a 15-sack season, Watt may or may not be looking for an out from Houston. If Joe Douglas can swing Watt for cheap, there’s little doubt that Robert Saleh would be able to utilize the time that Watt has remaining in the league.
One of the few issues with Watt is that there is likely no chance that he would like to be a part of another rebuild. It’s the reason why envisioning him in Houston come next season is a bit difficult.
The only way the Jets can land the veteran would be if free agency is particularly kind and lucky for New York.
With the defensive line already on the rise, adding a proven leader like J.J. Watt would be the icing on the cake.
Next: 3. An aging superstar
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3. The NY Jets could trade for Julio Jones
A team that never was able to recover from 28-3, the Falcons have only gotten worse in each year following that Super Bowl meltdown. The firing of head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff might just be the first dominos to fall.
To wash clean of their postseason nightmare, it might be high time for the Falcons to sell off any asset they can for picks or young players. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan might be very high on that list.
If the Jets can make a deal for Jones, that would not only give an incredible receiving target to New York’s quarterback but help tremendously in Denzel Mims’ development by attracting most of the defense’s attention.
Jones hasn’t shown any sign of showing down recently. An injury preventing him from hitting yet another 1,000-yard season, but he’s still performing at an exceptionally high level. Jones would immediately be the best receiver on the Jets roster.
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It was not long ago that Jones was consistently brought up into the conversation of being the best receiver in the league. While DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs have since taken the driver seat in those dialogues, Jones is far from a shell of his former self.
The Jets need a true number one target. The days of Brandon Marshall have long since been over, and the new-look Kyle Shanahan-inspired offense will need an injection of talent to truly reach its full potential.
If the Falcons do explore a full-blown rebuild, New York should absolutely make a move for their star wide receiver.
Next: 2. A talented cap concern
2. The NY Jets could trade for Michael Thomas
Coming off of an injury-shortened season, Michael Thomas is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Just last season, he was even in the MVP conversation for his domination against defenses.
The New Orleans Saints are in a terrible predicament at the moment. Entering 2021, the Saints are about $100 million over the cap.
Even with the announcement that their franchise quarterback, Drew Brees, will retire, New Orleans will still need to shed themselves of a ton of money before next season.
Thomas, 27, is making close to $100 million over five years.
His character issues have also become an increasing concern as of late when he was inactive for a game during the regular season because of an altercation with a teammate.
Thomas’s spot on the team also doesn’t seem to be too safe considering how he was a non-factor in the Saints’ playoff bout with the Super Bowl-bound Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But in order to experience a lack of production in the postseason, the Jets would first need to make it there.
With the odds stacking against Thomas remaining in New Orleans, considering his issues on and off the field, as well as the Saints’ horrific situation, a trade might be all but inevitable.
It seems odd to discuss a trade of a star wide receiver before the ink had truly dried on his extension, but it isn’t unprecedented. The Cleveland Browns/Odell Beckham trade comes to mind.
Beckham had signed a five-year, $95 million extension with the New York Giants in the summer of 2018, only to be traded in the 2019 offseason.
The Jets can make an offer for Thomas, adding a much-needed receiving target for their quarterback. It likely would involve swapping a handful of picks and some hefty draft capital, but Thomas is a fantastic player.
And his contract could drive down the asking price.
Michael Thomas would be an incredible addition to a team needing to speed up their rebuild, courtesy of a team possibly entering a rebuild.
Next: 1. A top quarterback
1. The NY Jets could trade for Deshaun Watson
The Texans should have fired Bill O’Brien sooner.
After a year that saw Houston lose their head coach, general manager, and star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, things only got worse for the Texans.
Deshaun Watson has reportedly become very dissatisfied with the Texans organization, somehow managing to be even angrier than when the team traded Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals last March.
Ignoring Watson’s requests to interview either Eric Bieniemy or Robert Saleh in the first round of interviews, and finishing 2020 at 4-12 without their first-round pick, there’s no question how the Texans have been able to upset their star quarterback.
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The Jets are one of the teams that could possibly have just enough draft capital to make a respectable deal to bring in Watson and instantly have a sure-fire franchise quarterback the likes of which haven’t been seen in New York since Joe Namath.
Deshaun Watson has a no-trade clause in his current contract, meaning that he would need to willingly waive the clause himself. Watson would likely have a say in where he ends up.
The Miami Dolphins have also been linked to trading for the Clemson product. Having Deshaun Watson inside the division, especially if the Jets have a chance to make a move themselves, is a terrible outcome that they must avoid.
Joe Douglas is expected to be aggressive in free agency this offseason. If he can start the season with Watson wearing Gotham Green, they might just build a statue of the highly-regarded GM in East Rutherford.