NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets have had quite the busy offseason so far, and we haven’t even reached the end of March. The team went into the free-agency period possessing the second-most cap space in the NFL.
And as expected, they showed they weren’t afraid to use it.
At the time of writing, only five teams have spent more money than the Jets have this offseason with over $120 million dished out to new members of the roster. A significant portion of that money went to defensive end Carl Lawson and wide receiver Corey Davis.
Even aside from those two, the Jets have added 11 other free agents over the course of the last few weeks. But they’re certainly not done adding players just yet.
The majority of their future additions will undoubtedly come in the 2021 NFL Draft as the Jets have a total of nine picks to make including five in the top-90.
However, they might not be done signing free agents just yet.
The last time we released one of these “best remaining free agents” pieces, we identified four free agents the Jets could still sign. Three of the four have since been signed, one of which by the Jets — running back Tevin Coleman.
The other two, cornerbacks K’Waun Williams and Malcolm Butler, went elsewhere. But it’s probably in the Jets’ best interest to sign at least one veteran cornerback before the draft arrives.
Just a little spoiler of what’s to come.
With that, let’s take a look at three remaining free agents the Jets could still consider signing.
Next: 3. K.J. Wright
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
3. The NY Jets could target LB K.J. Wright
K.J. Wright was the lone name listed in our last “best free agents remaining” piece that has gone unsigned over the past four days. Expect that to change within the coming days/weeks.
And perhaps the team that finally swoops in to scoop him up could be the Jets.
The Jets’ linebacker corps will look very different in 2021 with very likely no holdovers from the 2020 team. C.J. Mosley will return after opting-out of last season and the hope is that he could return to his Pro-Bowl form from two years ago.
The Jets also added Jarrad Davis to give the team another high-upside athletic linebacker to patrol the middle of the field. Clearly Robert Saleh has a type.
And while he may not be the player he used to be, K.J. Wright still fits the Saleh mold.
Even at 31-years-old, Wright is still going strong. He’s played in 15 or more games in six of the past seven seasons and he continues to do so at a high level.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
Wright was ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ seventh-highest graded linebacker in 2020 earning a stellar 75.3 grade. In particular, he shined in coverage with an elite coverage grade of 79.1 that ranked sixth at his position.
In essence, a perfect fit for Saleh’s defense.
Wright has experience playing both the SAM and WILL role in the Seahawks’ defense and even crossed paths with Saleh in Seattle from 2011 to 2013 when the future Jets head coach was serving as the team’s defensive quality control coach.
The Jets could use another starting-caliber linebacker and Wright fits the bill.
Next: 2. Brian Poole
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
2. The NY Jets could target CB Brian Poole
After missing out on K’Waun Williams in free agency, could the Jets come crawling back to a player who many believed was all but gone? It’s certainly possible. And at this point, it might just be their best bet.
The Jets are desperate for help at cornerback, and that goes for both the outside cornerback role and the slot position. The current depth chart of Bryce Hall, Blessuan Austin, and Javelin Guidry just isn’t going to get it done.
Guidry showed promise down the stretch last season, but the Jets can’t rely on him to be a starter going into 2021. That’s why bringing back someone like Poole on a short-term deal makes a ton of sense.
Williams is no longer a target. Other free-agent nickel cornerbacks such as Troy Hill, Mike Hilton, and Mackensie Alexander have all been signed. The Jets options are pretty much Poole or … Nickell Robey-Coleman?
Given Robey-Coleman’s abysmal 2020 season, it’s safe to say that Poole is the better option.
The Jets had concerns about Poole’s ability to perform in a Robert Saleh defense that primarily focuses on zone coverage. Poole notably played his best football under Gregg Williams in a many-heavy scheme.
He also struggled earlier in his career with Atlanta in a similar defense to the one that Saleh will be running. But the Jets are getting desperate at this point, and Poole has played very well over the past two seasons.
After missing out on their rumored target, the Jets might just bring back Brian Poole after all.
Next: 1. Steven Nelson
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
1. The NY Jets could target Steven Nelson
The Jets shouldn’t only be targeting one cornerback, they should be targeting a couple. And by far the name that stands out the most out of the current crop of free agents is the recently-released Steven Nelson.
The Pittsburgh Steelers recently cut ties with Nelson after a pair of excellent seasons with the organization. Perhaps slightly overlooked in a supremely talented Steelers defense, Nelson has developed into a very good cornerback since leaving Kansas City.
A third-round pick of the Chiefs in the 2015 NFL Draft, Nelson was a solid if not unspectacular cornerback over the first four years of his career. He developed into a reliable starter, but was never much more than that.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets land Zach Wilson and Kwity Paye in 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
- NY Jets: Oregon CB Deommodore Lenoir talks NFL Draft in interview
- 3 hypothetical trades the NY Jets could make on draft night
- NY Jets: Kent State WR Isaiah McKoy talks NFL Draft in interview
- NY Jets: 3 tight ends to target in the 2021 NFL Draft
For that reason, it wasn’t surprising to see the Chiefs move on after his rookie contract with the team trying to save cap space. But Nelson went on to have the best year of his career in 2019 finishing as PFF’s sixth-highest graded cornerback.
Nelson was legitimately one of the best cornerbacks in football in 2019, and while his play slipped a little in 2020, his 68.1 PFF grade was still good for 36th at his position making him a high-end No. 2 cornerback at worst.
And at just 28-years-old, Nelson is younger than some of the other veteran options out there such as Richard Sherman and Casey Hayward. He wouldn’t just be a one-year stop-gap.
Nelson would give the Jets a true veteran cornerback to lean on allowing them to potentially have a little more flexibility in the draft.
The free-agent market may be running dry, but Nelson is a fresh, new name that could make a significant impact for the Jets or any team he lands with.