NY Jets: Grading 2020 free agent class after one season

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
NY Jets
NY Jets /

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Kevin R. Wexler-USA TODAY Sports

NY Jets fans, it is time to cheer. General manager Joe Douglas is finally going to have the opportunity and resources necessary to piece together the roster in his own vision.

As Douglas enters his second offseason at the helm, and third season overall as the team’s GM, he will have a lot of work to do.

Gang Green is coming off of a 2-14 season, in which having won two games came as a shock. Especially considering it came against two teams that made the divisional round of the playoffs.

Nonetheless, the Jets are a young, scrappy team that currently sits with only a few building blocks. This being due to the poor drafting and development during the Adam Gase head coaching era of the past two seasons.

Thus, leaving Douglas turning to his cap space and exceptional draft capital to fix things.

With free agency due about a month from now, the Jets are expected to be much bigger players than a year ago. Douglas had a conservative approach, knowing the talent that would become available, the state of the team’s 2020 roster, and the cap rollover from the pandemic-ridden year.

The Jets, despite having money to spend last free agency, did not splurge on premier players. New York played the second and third-tier markets, signing many to team-friendly, short-term deals, for better or worse.f

That being said, let’s review how each free agent signing from a year ago fared during one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

Next: 1. Quarterbacks and skill position players

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NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NY Jets signed QB Joe Flacco to a one-year deal

This past season, Joe Flacco would go on to not only appear but start in a handful of games for the Jets. By no means was the 35-year-old perfect under center, but he did throw six touchdowns to three interceptions and had his highest QBR since 2014.

Flacco finished the season 0-4 as a starter, though played surprisingly well given he was coming off of neck surgery in the offseason.

Grade: B

NY Jets re-signed QB David Fales to a one-year deal

Bringing back David Fales on a one-year deal was an easy, low-risk call for the Jets. Fales had years of experience playing under Adam Gase, leaving him as another option at quarterback should an injury occur.

In the end, Fales never appeared in a game for the Jets in 2020, despite the chaos that would ensue at the position.

Grade: N/A

NY Jets signed RB Frank Gore to a one-year deal

One of the many issues Jets fans had this past season was the usage of future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore. By no means was Gore unusable, as he accumulated 742 yards from scrimmage.

However, with La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson on the roster, many had issues with the fact he has 187 carries to their combined 118, and only 3.7 yards per touch. Gore is an NFL legend who when it is all said and done, Jets fans will be thrilled to say he once played for them.

But he wasn’t effective in 2020.

Grade: D+

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NY Jets signed WR Breshad Perriman to a one-year deal

One of the more disappointing moves last offseason was when the Jets saw their top playmaker Robby Anderson head for the Carolina Panthers.

Even Douglas admitted later on that it was a mistake. With Anderson gone, the Jets hoped to replace his deep threat ability with Breshad Perriman.

Perriman, a former first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens, has seen his career plagued by injury. That trend carried over into 2020, as he missed four games. Perriman did not have a terrible season, as he had 505 yards on 30 catches.

Nevertheless, Perriman was not enough to replace Anderson or distract fans from Anderson’s 95 catches for 1,096 yards.

Grade: C+

NY Jets signed WR Chris Hogan to a one-year deal

With the inexperience and the lack of depth the Jets had at wide receiver, the team turned to Chris Hogan. The veteran slot receiver played five games, compiling 118 yards on 14 catches, never really providing a spark.

By October, Hogan went on injured reserve before being cut in December.

Grade: F

Next: 2. The blockers up front

NY Jets (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) /

NY Jets signed C Connor McGovern to a three-year deal

Last offseason, one of the team’s top priorities was to protect quarterback Sam Darnold. While the offensive line did improve, it was very inconsistent.

Center Connor McGovern, who signed a three-year, $27-million deal, was no exception. McGovern started the season off as the front’s biggest liability.

Then, around the midpoint, the 27-year-old settled in. He started all 16 games, earning a 71.0 grade from Pro Football Focus as a run blocker, which helped cover up he was second to last among qualifying centers in pass blocking.

Certainly, the Jets hope for him to pick up where he left off in 2020.

Grade: B-

NY Jets signed C Josh Andrews to a one-year deal

One of the things the Jets had to do last offseason was build better depth. Signing the versatile Josh Andrews, who had been in the league since 2014, was supposed to be that.

He certainly was a moveable chess piece along the line, but not an effective one. In fact, he ranked 78th among 80 qualifying guards in 2020.

Grade: F

NY Jets re-signed OG Alex Lewis to a three-year deal.

When the Kelechi Osemele injury drama went down, Alex Lewis stepped up in his place. Thus, leading to a three-year deal in the offseason. Believe it or not, he played well, being an above-average pass blocker, though he struggled in the run game.

Lewis is a potential cap casualty this year given the structure of his deal, and the team likely wanting an upgrade. Not to mention some off-field issues that led to him being held out of a few games down the stretch.

Grade: C

NY Jets signed OG Greg Van Roten to a three-year deal

There is a reason why the Jets need to tackle their guard issues this season. Like Lewis, Van Roten was not terrible, he was simply inconsistent. He was better in the run than the passing game and made 13 starts.

He too could wind up being a cap casualty. With just over $3 million due over each of the next two seasons, he could stick around longer.

Grade: C-

NY Jets signed OT George Fant to a three-year deal

The first signing last year, George Fant brought a veteran swing tackle, who when healthy, has been a decent starter. That applied this past season, as Fant was a good enough starting right tackle in the 14 games.

Overall, Fant did not justify his $30 million payday. Lucky for the Jets, he can be cut with minimal dead cap.

Grade: D+

Next: 3. Linebacker depth

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NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NY Jets re-signed OLB Jordan Jenkins to a one-year deal

One surprise last season was that the Jets were able to retain Jordan Jenkins, despite him coming off of a career-high eight sack season.

Jenkins has always been a great edge setter, with his sack totals progressing each year — until 2020. Jenkins played in 12 games, putting up a career-low two sacks on six quarterback hits.

Grade: C+

NY Jets re-signed ILB Neville Hewitt to a one-year deal

Injuries and opt-outs hurt the Jets this past season at middle linebacker, leaving Neville Hewitt to once again run the show. After becoming a regular in 2019, Hewitt continued to improve, starting the entire season.

Hewitt had a career-high 134 tackles, six for a loss, two sacks, and one forced fumble. Ultimately, he ranked 33rd among 85 eligible off-ball linebackers, per PFF.

Grade: B

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NY Jets re-signed ILB James Burgess Jr. to a one-year deal

Another holdover from 2019’s linebacker injuries, James Burgess returned to the Jets on a one-year deal. In the end, it did not last long, as Burgess was an odd man out in a seemingly packed linebacker unit.

Grade: N/A

NY Jets signed ILB Patrick Onwuasor to a one-year deal

One of the players that caused Burgess’ release was Patrick Onwuasor. An old running mate of C.J. Mosley from his Baltimore Ravens days, Onwuasor came to Florham Park hoping for a bounce-back season.

What he got though was an injury-riddled campaign that saw him only play eight snaps.

Grade: F

Next: 4. Onto the secondary

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NY Jets re-signed CB Brian Poole to a one-year deal

Similar to Jordan Jenkins, Brian Poole was coming off of a phenomenal season in 2019, where he should have earned a multi-year deal on the market. Be that as it may, he wound up back in Gotham Green in 2020 to prove his season was no fluke.

Poole finished the year on injured reserve having undergone shoulder surgery, but he earned his money. Poole posted fantastic numbers in nine games, with two interceptions, nine pass deflections, and 44 tackles.

Poole also earned a 77.1 PFF grade, being the 11th highest among all cornerbacks.

Grade: A-

NY Jets re-signed CB Arthur Maulet to a one-year deal

Arthur Maulet was one of the unsung heroes of the team’s 2019 secondary, and when the injury bug hit again in 2020, he stepped up.

Maulet played corner and safety, and while he did struggle in coverage, proved to be a decent depth piece. The 27-year-old had a career-high five pass deflections, one sack, and 29 total tackles in 11 games.

Grade: D+

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NY Jets signed CB Pierre Desir to a one-year deal

The Jets needed a starting corner on the outside, and Douglas turned to Pierre Desir as the answer. After a down season with the Indianapolis Colts, Desir was cut, which would wind up being his eventual fate with the Jets.

Nine games into the season, Desir led the team with three interceptions, yet was getting beat consistently. Luckily for the Jets, Bryce Hall got healthy and took his spot, justifying Desir’s release.

Grade: D-

NY Jets re-signed CB Bennett Jackson to a one-year deal

Brought back as another depth piece, Bennett Jackson did not see much action during his second season with the Jets. He played in four games, with one tackle, receiving all his snaps on special teams.

Grade: D-

Next. NY Jets: 20 individual superlatives and awards for the 2020 season

In the end, it is the flexibility that Douglas created with short-term, low-risk deals last offseason that put the Jets into the position they are in entering this offseason.