During the early stages of the NFL offseason, NFL fans immediately start salivating at the prospects of their team landing premium free agents, NY Jets fans included.
For weeks on end, they fantasize about who their team will sign in free agency, even though most of the names earmarked by them rarely ever get to the open market.
The franchise tag deadline arrives, star players get tagged or re-sign with their teams, and with that comes the sobering reality of having to re-work wishlists.
It's infrequent that top-tier free agents at premium positions make it to the open market or the players who enter free agency play positions that don't warrant top-dollar contracts like guard, safety, etc.
The Jets are in a position, after winning only six games the last two seasons, where they have to be active players in free agency to help supplement their considerable draft resources.
And provided that general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh are up to the task, the Jets need to entice top-tier players to join the organization. Not a simple task by any stretch for a team still trying to become credible.
Success in free agency for the Jets is a must for a franchise lacking difference-making players. Overpaying for second-tier players is not a sound long-term football business strategy. Perennially losing teams often do that to reel veteran players in. The Jets must sign the right players for the right reasons.
The legal tampering period in free agency starts next Monday. New York will prioritize the free-agent market more than they have in years past. The Jets might've tipped their hand recently towards this approach by openly stating that their coaching staff would skip the Combine to focus on the open market.
So by now, the coaching staff and front office should have a sound strategy of who they plan to target in free agency and through trades. Whether or not they can successfully acquire their desired targets is another story.
In recent months, we've spoken about the top potential free agents available at positions of need for the Jets. And we have also listed star players like DK Metcalf and Danielle Hunter that the Jets can acquire through the trade market using their draft assets.
Aiding them in both cases is the fact that New York has the fifth-most amount of cap space in the league. Because of the financial freedom, the Jets can acquire players using different avenues to bolster their roster.
The worst thing that teams can do in free agency is overspend on players that weren't their first choice. Desperate teams usually do that, and they typically miss out on the first wave of premium free agent targets at positions of need.
And then, as a means, to avoid leaving the market empty-handed will overpay for options B, C, or D. That particular strategy usually leads to buyer's remorse and regret.
The Jets need to acquire as much talent as possible, but the most important is acquiring natural fit players. Don't settle for what's out there, and the trade market can help you achieve that goal. The Jets can also target free agents best suited to play in their systems.
Let's look at five free agents who fit those specific criteria. All of whom can be fits for the Jets and help upgrade the team's roster without the team breaking the bank and eating up all their cap space.