With a ton of cap space, the NY Jets have an opportunity to change their franchise by signing a few high-profile free agents this offseason.
Cap space is important, but it’s how you use it. Just ask the Jets’ crosstown NBA team, the New York Knicks.
Year after year, the Knicks continue to bottom out and gain as much cap space as possible to “woo” the biggest free agent to New York. However, every time they do this, the star player never ends up signing there.
Whether it’s LeBron James or Kevin Durant, they always choose a different franchise to play for.
Just because the team has cap space, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to acquire the biggest player this offseason. For example, you can cross J.J. Watt’s name off the to-sign list already, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals this week.
Although the Jets won’t be getting the former Defensive Player of the Year, they still have an opportunity to acquire some quality talent.
The Jets may not have won a Super Bowl since 1969 or made the playoffs in the past decade, but it’s still New York. There’s no better place to be a star than the “Big Apple” and this franchise finally has a competent coach and general manager to help recruit.
If you can trust the Jets for once in your life, it should be now.
Here are five high-profile free agents that the Jets need to target this offseason. That is, of course, if any of the following players actually hit the open market.
Next: 5. JuJu Smith-Schuster
NY Jets Target: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR)
The Jets need a quarterback, but they also need an upgraded receiver corps for him to throw to.
Whether or not you liked JuJu Smith-Schuster’s TikTok videos last season, it doesn’t take away the fact that he’s a star talent.
Smith-Schuster’s 2018 season was one to remember. Targeted 169 times, he caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and 14 touchdowns. Although his numbers have declined over the past two seasons, a lot of that has to do with his quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the 2019 season due to injury and that clearly had an effect on his 2020 campaign as well.
The Jets are more than likely going to have a new quarterback to start the 2021 season, so whether it’s a star rookie or a well-known NFL starter, Smith-Schuster would be in a much better situation in New York than he was in Pittsburgh over the past two years.
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Given his age (24-years-old), we most likely haven’t even seen the best of Smith-Schuster yet. And there seems to be a good shot that he actually hits the open market with Pittsburgh unlikely to re-sign him.
In fact, the Jets were even predicted as his ideal landing spot recently.
Paired with a great quarterback, and as the No. 1 target, there’s no reason to believe that he wouldn’t become a Pro Bowl wideout once again if he landed in New York.
Next: 4. Richard Sherman
4. NY Jets Target: Richard Sherman (CB)
Richard Sherman will always have a soft spot for MetLife Stadium because that was the site of Super Bowl XLVIII where he won his first Super Bowl.
Pair that with the fact that the Jets just hired his former defensive coordinator in Robert Saleh and this could be a match made in heaven.
The @nyjets got a great one! Congrats to them!
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 15, 2021
The Jets’ cornerback position has a lot of question marks right now. Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin have only been in the NFL for a combined three seasons, while it’s unknown whether or not Brian Poole or Arthur Maulet will re-sign with the team, as well.
Although Sherman is getting older (32-years-old), he would be a great fit in New York. The Jets are a young team and need a veteran leader to turn to. Sherman is one of the best defensive players of the past decade, so who better to learn from than him?
The five-time Pro Bowler had some injury struggles with the San Francisco 49ers last season, but he’s still one of the smartest players in the league, and that intelligence isn’t going anywhere.
Not only would signing Sherman benefit the entire defense, but it would help the organization. When a team acquires a player of this greatness, the rest of the league takes notice.
Other players want to play on a team that has the type of leadership he possesses, so a Sherman signing could even make more additions easier.
Next: 3. Allen Robinson
3. NY Jets Target: Allen Robinson (WR)
It’s impressive that Allen Robinson has been so productive when his primary quarterbacks have been Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky, and Nick Foles over his first seven seasons.
If Robinson had played with a star quarterback, it’s crazy to think what his numbers could have been in that timeframe. Even with those three players throwing to him, he’s had three 1,000-yard campaigns and has 39 career touchdowns.
Although the Jets don’t currently have a quarterback worthy of superstar status, that could change. Whether it’s a big-name free agent/trade acquisition or a rookie draft pick, New York could be on the verge of having a great quarterback.
When you think of star receivers, Robinson’s name isn’t one that typically comes top of mind, but it should. After finishing sixth in the NFL in receptions last season, he’s clearly one of the most underrated players at the position.
Of course, there’s a decent chance that the Chicago Bears opt to franchise tag their star receiver rendering this point useless. But don’t rule out the potential of a tag-and-trade.
If Robinson wants to cash-in with a big contract, the Jets may be the best destination for him moving forward.
Next: 2. Chris Godwin
2. NY Jets Target: Chris Godwin (WR)
Offensive weapons typically cost the most amount of money, so with the cap space the Jets currently have, they need to recruit a superstar.
Godwin went from being the best wideout on a 7-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team in 2019 to the third or fourth option on a Super-Bowl-winning roster. That’s not a knock on the talent that he has as a football player, but more of a reality.
Although the team was more successful when Godwin played second-fiddle, it doesn’t mean the Jets shouldn’t target him as their No. 1 wide receiver.
Godwin is an exceptional talent and when a player like this becomes available, you need to go after him with a blank check. His hands are some of the best in the NFL and his speed is a defender’s nightmare.
The Jets haven’t had a true No. 1 option in years and could desperately use Godwin as their main weapon.
It’s very possible that the Buccaneers franchise tag Godwin and make him unavailable to the open market, but if he’s available, the Jets should pounce.
With so much cap space, he’s the type of player you back the Brinks Truck up for and make sure that he’s a part of your franchise long-term.
Next: 1. Dak Prescott
1. NY Jets Target: Dak Prescott (QB)
This one’s a longshot.
Dak Prescott is coming off a gruesome injury, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t get back to his old self. Although the Dallas Cowboys will most likely franchise tag Prescott, if that doesn’t happen, the Jets should swoop in and grab him.
Although many people may not agree with this statement, Prescott is an elite quarterback. He has a 42-27 career record as a starter and has thrown for 17,634 yards and 106 touchdowns in five seasons. It may not have happened yet, but a team can win a title with Prescott under center.
The 27-year-old is a victim of his surrounding. The Dallas Cowboys are the most famous NFL team in the world, but their family business has hurt their winning pedigree.
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Once a juggernaut, this team hasn’t been successful since the NFL salary cap started to rise substantially in the mid-1990s.
It feels like the more money Jerry Jones made, the less the franchise dedicates itself to winning. Although they put on a front that winning the Super Bowl is the goal every year, they haven’t come close to achieving it in 25 years.
Being the star quarterback for the Cowboys is a dream for any young player, but if Prescott continues to play there, he may not be able to live out his ultimate dream.
The Jets have a nucleus and a fresh start. With a great young coach, a smart general manager with a ton of cap space, and lots of draft capital, the Jets will be a brand new team in 2021.
The only thing they’re missing is a franchise quarterback and Prescott would take this team from the basement to the playoffs.