NY Jets Free Agents
The Jets started their transactions by re-signing some safety depth with the likes of Lamarcus Joyner, Will Parks, and Elijah Riley, in addition to fullback Nick Bawden, and offensive tackle (backup tight end?) Connor McDermott.
This was a good start for the Jets in terms of some depth and continuity, but as the clock struck noon on March 14, tension was high around Jets nation.
How will Joe Douglas fill the glaring holes on all three sides of the ball and satisfy the Jets fanbase, while sticking to his frugal philosophy on the first day of free agency which traditionally is reserved for overspending (see: 2021 New England Patriots and 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars)?
NY Jets Day 1 Review
After approximately two hours, which felt closer to a decade due to the gauntlet of NFL splash moves and rumors regarding the degree of Jets interest in said player, Joe Douglas made his first move.
Laken Tomlinson, captain and veteran starting left guard for the San Francisco 49ers, agreed to a three-year, $27 million guaranteed deal (max of $40 million).
This was a no-brainer signing in terms of monetary value and team-fit as Tomlinson thrives in the zone-blocking scheme and has familiarities with head coach Robert Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, and John Benton the offensive line coach and run-game coordinator from San Francisco.
The only major concern with this signing is Alijah Vera-Tucker is the starting left guard for the Jets which means Tomlinson will be starting at right guard.
All throughout the day, Damien Woody, ESPN Analyst and an offensive lineman who has played every position, spoke about the transition from left to right and specifically the journey for Tomlinson and the Jets.
Woody, on multiple occasions, was confident in Tomlinson working out the kinks in the offseason despite citing difficulties in transitioning to the other side of the offensive line.
Specifically, in the case of Laken Tomlinson, he has chemistry with the coaching staff, knowledge of the playbook, and the golden approval from offensive line guru, Joe Douglas.
If the Super Bowl champion, veteran Pro Bowl offensive lineman who played all five positions, turned NFL analyst for the world sports leader believes in Tomlinson moving from left-guard to right-guard — then you can count me in.
Next up, about 25 minutes later, the All-Pro tweets out, "WE'RE BAAAACK." The Jets retained their most reliable player on offense last season, Braxton Berrios, who seemingly plays every position — from receiver to running back to kick returner to punt returner.
The most impressive aspect? Douglas plucked on the heartstrings of Jets fans on his own terms. $7 million guaranteed over two years (max of $12 million) — a stark difference from the rumored $9-10 million per year that was rumored for Berrios.
The next agreement was to bring back Tevin Coleman on another one-year deal. ESPN's Rich Cimini mentioned on "Jets Twitter Spaces" that the Jets believe he still has a lot of gas left in the tank if he can stay healthy.
Despite re-signing Berrios and Coleman, expect the Jets to still be on the lookout for a WR1 and another running back to add to the Michael Carter and Coleman tandem (likely through the draft, but also keep an eye out for some value free agents looking for "prove-it" deals such as Will Fuller (WR) or J.D. McKissic (RB)).
At around 7 p.m, Joe Douglas made his final move for the day — and you guessed it — another offensive player. The Jets' front office was sick of hearing about the lack of weapons for Zach Wilson and they were able to poach C.J. Uzomah from the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals for three years, $24 million (guaranteed money not confirmed yet).
Uzomah is coming off a career year with 49 receptions, 493 yards (300 being yards after the catch), and five touchdowns, in addition to being a leader in the Bengals' locker room.
New York fills the TE1 role with a veteran, who will inevitably mentor the incoming Day 2-3 rookie tight end, and makes his living with yards after the catch, a staple in LaFleur's offense.
I would not be surprised if the Jets add one more tight end before the NFL Draft such as Hayden Hurst or Tyler Conklin. I would be shocked and ecstatic if the Jets snagged FB/TE hybrid Pat Ricard — talk about a game-changer.
*Note: Connor Hughes of The Athletic reported that the Jets were never seriously in on J.C. Jackson, Carlton Davis, or Amari Cooper due to money (and I'm sure Tom Brady had a role). However, the Jets were interested in B.J. Hill who stuck around with the Bengals and D.J. Jones who signed with Russell Wilson and the Broncos. The indication is that Douglas is searching for an interior defensive lineman to replace Foley Fatukasi, who signed with the Jaguars.