The NY Jets have made quite a few additions so far this offseason adding eight players in free agency at the time of writing. But even as we near the end of the first week of free agency, their work is far from over.
The Jets made a pair of high-profile signings on the first day of the legal tampering period adding both wide receiver Corey Davis and pass-rusher Carl Lawson.
Both players figure to play key roles on the roster not just in 2021 but over the next few years. However, they aren’t the only two additions the Jets have made.
Linebacker Jarrad Davis will likely step into a starting role on defense. Justin Hardee should fill a role as an integral special-teamer and high-character locker-room presence.
There’s also Keelan Cole, Dan Feeney, Lamarcus Joyner, and Tyler Kroft who will each provide extra depth to the roster and play specialized roles.
The Jets have made their fair share of signings. But given the obvious holes on the roster, they could still serve to do additional damage on the open market.
While the plan is to primarily build through the draft, the Jets have far too many holes to adequately address all of them with their nine picks. That’s why adding a few more players in free agency is crucial.
But which positions do the Jets need to target the most? Which positions remain the weakest on the roster?
Let’s take a look at three positions the Jets must still address in free agency.
Next: 3. Running back
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3. The NY Jets must target running back in free agency
The Jets don’t need to spend big on a running back this offseason. In fact, that ship has probably sailed with the likes of Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, and even Kenyan Drake already being scooped up.
At the same time, they also shouldn’t spend any premium draft capital on the position. But that doesn’t mean the position doesn’t need to be improved significantly.
Ty Johnson showed promise in 2020. Josh Adams even flashed a little. But the Jets can’t feel comfortable going into the 2021 season with the trio of Johnson, Adams, and the underwhelming La’Mical Perine leading the way.
It’s very likely that the team addresses the position in the middle rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft. But there’s no guarantee you hit on your mid-round picks, even at running back. See La’Mical Perine who was about as statistically ineffective as Frank Gore in his rookie season.
That’s why adding a capable veteran on a cheap deal should be a priority for the Jets. There are still a few intriguing players on the market too.
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Former San Francisco 49ers’ running backs such as Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Jerick McKinnon could all be targets given their familiarity in Mike LaFleur’s system. Breida is the most appealing of the three given his blazing speed.
Elsewhere, James Conner is available as is former New York Giants’ back Wayne Gallman. Damien Williams didn’t play last year, but he could interest the Jets too. Even someone like Brian Hill might make sense as an under-the-radar pickup.
The Jets need running back depth. And rather than solely relying on the unproven crop of backs that they have now and/or hitting on a mid-round pick, it would be wise to take a flier on a cheap veteran as well.
Next: 2. Interior offensive line
2. The NY Jets must target the interior offensive line in free agency
The Jets looked to make a major splash in free agency this offseason as they were reportedly one of the most notable suitors for star guard Joe Thuney. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t exactly work out.
The Kansas City Chiefs surprisingly swooped in and offered Thuney $16 million per season to play for arguably the best team in football. The Jets, or any team for that matter, were not going to beat that offer.
But after missing out on Thuney, the Jets have been quiet in the offensive line market. They weren’t active in the race for Corey Linsley and they steered away from David Andrews as well.
By the looks of things, the Jets seem to like Connor McGovern at center and have no plans to consider kicking him over to guard, despite his experience at both positions. That leaves their options on the free-agent market rather thin.
The best available interior offensive lineman who remains unsigned is Austin Reiter, but he primarily plays center meaning that he likely isn’t an option. Elsewhere, potential upgrades are slim to none.
Austin Blythe could make sense as an upgrade if he plays as well as he did in 2020. Veterans like Trai Turner or Lane Taylor are risky given their recent struggles or injuries, but they have been standout players in the past.
If not them, it’s hard to argue that players like Zach Fulton or John Miller are even upgrades at all.
The draft will be where the Jets seriously address this position, but landing an upgrade at one of the guard spots in free agency would be ideal.
Next: 1. Cornerback
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1. The NY Jets must target cornerback in free agency
There is no position that the Jets must place a greater emphasis on over the remaining stages of free agency than cornerback. Given their almost-barren depth chart, it’s pretty much a necessity.
At the moment, the Jets’ starting cornerback trio is 2020 fifth-round pick Bryce Hall, 2019 sixth-round pick Blessuan Austin, and former undrafted free agent Javelin Guidry. The Jets realistically need at least two new starters going into 2021.
For starters, they must find a replacement for Brian Poole at the nickel cornerback spot. Poole is expected to depart in free agency after a pair of impressive seasons with the organization.
And if that’s the case, one player the Jets continue to be connected to is former 49ers’ slot corner K’Waun Williams. Williams is a local New Jersey native who has plenty of experience in a Robert Saleh defense.
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If not Williams, someone like Cameron Sutton could make some sense. He’s just 26-years-old, has experience playing both outside and in the slot, and is coming off the best year of his career.
The Jets also need to bolster their boundary cornerbacks. Fortunately, there are a host of notable players still on the market.
Adoree’ Jackson would be a high-profile addition and would give the Jets a borderline No. 1 cornerback who’s still in his prime, provided he stays healthy. Kyle Fuller, assuming he’s released, would also give the Jets a top-tier cornerback, although one that’s a little older.
Richard Sherman has ties to Saleh and has been connected to the Jets as well. There are also veterans such as Malcolm Butler and Xavier Rhodes who could provide upgrades.
The Jets will look to the draft to further address this position. But it seems pretty clear that they must add at least one veteran starter in free agency.