As we rapidly approach the start of the 2022 NFL free agency period, the NY Jets once again find themselves in a strong position to sign players and currently have roughly $48 million in cap space available.
With the legal tampering period set to begin on March 14th and the official start of free agency on March 16th, the Jets have a golden opportunity to improve the team in many areas.
Names like J.C. Jackson and Marcus Williams have been mentioned as potential targets to improve both the cornerback and safety positions. On offense, we've heard about the likes of Dalton Schultz, Mike Gesicki, and Chris Godwin as candidates to sure up the tight end and wide receiver positions (all of whom aren't options anymore).
One position that has flown under the radar for most of the winter is linebacker. The Jets do feel pretty good about the combination of C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams but what if another player was available at a reasonable cost and one who fits perfectly into the Jets' defensive philosophy?
After all, Quincy Williams is still an unproven commodity and if the Jets choose to do so, they can also move on from Mosley after the 2022 season at a relatively low cap hit.
Add to the fact that both Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen are coming off injury-riddled seasons and are yet to prove themselves and suddenly the linebacker position doesn't look quite as stable.
When you add up the entire equation, free-agent linebacker Foyesade Oluokun looks like a perfect fit for the green and white and could fill multiple roles for the team. For starters, he has a prior relationship with defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.
Foyesade Oluokun is a perfect fit for the NY Jets in free agency
For three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Ulbrich served as the linebackers coach and helped transform Oluokun, a former sixth-round draft pick, into a solid starting NFL-caliber linebacker.
Quite simply put, Oluokun is a tackling machine and the numbers prove it. In 2021, Oluokun registered an amazing 192 combined tackles with 102 of them being solo. It goes without saying that he lead the NFL in tackles in 2021 as well.
For his career, Oluokun has 462 combined tackles but brings much more diversity to the table with his skill set. He intercepted three passes last season and had five interceptions over the past two campaigns. In comparison, the Jets did not have any interceptions from their linebacker corps in 2021.
For a team looking to improve their ability to generate turnovers, Oluokun could prove to be a valuable commodity as a linebacker in pass coverage.
He has also proven to be a reliable, three-down linebacker that has avoided injury. Oluokun has played in 64 games and started 41 of them. He took 1,149 snaps (98%) in 2021 and had another 896 snaps in 2020 (90.0%).
Foyesade Oluokun looks like the perfect fit for the type of linebacker that the Jets are looking for. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he projects as a small but athletic linebacker and his versatility allows him to stay on the field in passing situations.
To some degree, he is the proven version of both Sherwood and Nasirildeen. Oluokun is the perfect example of a hybrid, safety/linebacker who can serve in a wide variety of assignments.
In 2021, Oluokun played the MIKE linebacker position but in 2020 was mainly utilized as the WILL. Overall, during his tenure in the NFL, Oluokun has lined up in the box, the slot, the edge, and even played some free safety and outside cornerback.
The Falcons would love to re-sign Oluokun, but they currently sit at about $6 million over the salary cap and have many other positions of need to address. Linebacker happens to be one of their deeper positions and they may deem Oluokun to be expendable.
The Jets should do everything in their power to make the Falcons' loss their gain. Oluokun is projected to receive a contract in the range of four years and $40 million dollars with about $22.5 million guaranteed, per Pro Football Focus.
The former Yale graduate has the potential to improve the Jets' beleaguered defensive unit and Gang Green would be wise to target him early on in the free agency period.