As we (very patiently) wait for Aaron Rodgers to make his decision, the NY Jets will still have other needs to address when free agency starts next week. Here are five targets for the Jets in this year’s free agency class.
1. Jessie Bates III, S, Cincinnati Bengals
Jessie Bates would be a perfect fit for a Jets defense that needs good safeties. Lamarcus Joyner will most likely not be back, and Jordan Whitehead could be a cap casualty as well.
Bates has played over 1,000 snaps and had at least three interceptions in four of his five NFL seasons. He will enter the unrestricted free-agent market after being franchise tagged by the Cincinnati Bengals last offseason.
It remains to be seen if the Jets can clear the money needed to hand out a big contract to a non-quarterback, but if they can, Jessie Bates should be their No. 1 target.
2. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
With Derek Carr deciding to sign with the Saints, if Aaron Rodgers decides to retire or stay in Green Bay, Jimmy Garoppolo will be the next option for the Jets.
There are other possibilities; maybe Lamar Jackson shakes free, but at this point, he is not available. Daniel Jones and Ryan Tannehill seem likely to stay put, so that leaves Garoppolo for the Jets.
Garoppolo was with Robert Saleh in San Francisco, so there is a sense of familiarity there. Saleh also mentioned how there is a lot of carryover from the offense Mike LaFluer ran over the past two seasons to the offense Nathaniel Hackett is installing now.
If the Jets can’t land Rodgers, Garoppolo would still be an upgrade at quarterback, but it would undoubtedly be a disappointing outcome for the quarterback search.
3. Jimmie Ward, DB, San Francisco 49ers
If the Jets can’t land someone like Bates at safety, Jimmie Ward would be a great fallback option. Ward played slot corner for the 49ers this past season and was denied his request to switch back to his safety role.
I'm sure Ward and Saleh would love to reunite in New York, and Ward can return to his natural free safety position. The Jets' secondary is still very young, so having Ward, who knows the system well, would be a major help to one of the Jets' few weaknesses on defense last season.
4. Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers
If the Jets do end up adding Aaron Rodgers, they will need to help him out by getting him some weapons. According to The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt, Rodgers’ former teammate Allen Lazard could be an option.
With Corey Davis likely to be released, the Jets would be in need of a bigger-bodied receiver, and at 6-foot-5, Lazard fits the bill. He not only has familiarity with Rodgers but also Hackett. Lazard had 60 catches for 788 yards this past season and also provides value as a good blocker.
5. Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
We have had a couple of guys with ties to Saleh, so how about someone with ties to Joe Douglas?
The Jets' offensive tackle group is in an interesting spot. Duane Brown is coming back, but he is coming off an injury and is 37 years old. Mekhi Becton hasn’t played in two seasons, and Max Mitchell was forced to step away due to blood clots.
Suffice to say, the Jets need to add depth at offensive tackle. Andre Dillard was a first-round pick by the Eagles back in 2019, when Joe Douglas was still with them. He hasn’t worked out as expected, starting only nine games over his three seasons in the NFL.
The Jets could take a chance on a former first-round pick to give them offensive line depth. Dillard spent time at both tackle and guard during his time in Philidelphia.
Even if the Jets plan to select an offensive tackle with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, it would still be smart to add someone like Dillard in free agency.