Today is not only the start of the league year for the NFL but the first day of the most exciting time for Jets fans. Unfortunately this time of year has been our postseason for the last decade or so but this offseason has the potential to change it all with the draft capital they possess, cap space they have available and of course the return of a set structure in place.
By the time you’re reading this, the league year may have already started and Joe Douglas may have splurged on a guy or two but as of this moment, the Jets have the entire offseason ahead of them and it starts in just a couple hours.
Prior to today, the team has decided to bring back Nick Bowden, Lamarcus Joyner, Will Parks and Connor McDermmot before letting them hit the open market. The contract details have yet to be released but to think they would add about five to six million to the books seems reasonable at this time.
But without further ado, here is what an ideal scenario of a 2022 offseason would look like from the eyes of yours truly.
Before Bawden, Joyner, McDermmot and Parks re-signings
First thing first, the need to add some more cap space to their already high number by moving in from the following players:
- Greg Van Roten: $3,500,000
- Ryan Griffin: $3,194,824
- Lamical Perine: $708,664
- Trevon Wesco: $965,000
- Sheldon Rankins: $5,441,168
- Chuma Edoga: $965,000
It is too bad that some of these guys did not pan out but this will allow the team to save around 15 million that they can use for a higher profile name on the market. Of all of these guys to come back, we could see Rankins and Griffin return at a fraction of the price, but for now they are all available to the rest of the league.
Everyone thought Amari Cooper would be the perfect target considering the leverage, or lack thereof, the Cowboys had after announcing they would release him. He ended up going for two late day three selections which seemed like a low price to pay, but ultimately it likely came down to the fact that they did not want to spend 20 million for Cooper. So now they start to look elsewhere to get their young quarterback another key target alongside the young budding star in Elijah Moore and the veteran Corey Davis. In comes Brandon Cooks. Now it is not certain that the Texans would be willing to move on from Cooks considering their own quarterback situation but it is possible, which is all we need here. Looking at the contract Cooks has at the moment (roughly 13-14 million) and what he’s done for Houston, I don’t see why a third (pick 69) and a fifth (pick 145) doesn’t get this deal done, especially when you consider how early the third round selection is. This gives Wilson another speedy option who can play inside and out, who is also a dynamic route runner that easily creates separation, something the team desperately needs from another receiver. This would be a great trio to have for Wilson as he grows to take the next step in this young career.
Now with the trades out of the way, onto free agency, what today is really all about. After the Cooks trade, the cuts, and re-signings, the team will have about nearly 38 million available to them to spend on the draft and free agency.
- QB Joe Flacco – 1 year, 2 million
- QB Mike White – 1 year, 2 million
- HB Tevin Coleman – 1 year, 1 million (N/A market value per Spotrac)
- iDL Nathan Shephard – 1 year, 1 millionTE Ryan Griffin – 1 year, 1 million
No Marcus Maye, Foley Fatukasi or Braxton Berrios, the three best players hitting the market from last year’s team. We don’t re-sign any of them for different reasons, but it’s in the best interest of the team to move forward and look elsewhere for their replacements. I know losing another all-pro return man will be tough but spending six million on a primary special teamer is not the right way to spend money, at the moment.
- TE OJ Howard – 1 year, 4 million ($2.2M market value per Spotrac)
- TE Will Dissly – 1 year, 2 million (N/A market value per Spotrac)
- OL James Daniels – 4 years, 38 million ($7.3M market value per Spotrac)
- DT BJ Hill – 3 years, 19.5 million (N/A market value per Spotrac)
- CB Darius Phillips – 1 year, 3 million (N/A market value per Spotrac)
- DB PJ Williams – 3 years, 15 million (N/A market value per Spotrac)
- S Marcus Williams – 5 years, 70 million ($15M market value per Spotrac)
This does not seem like a lot of moves were made but for the money, they get some much needed pieces up and down the roster. On the offensive side, they get a young tight end that never seemed to get the chance he deserved in Tampa after being a first round selection in 2017. Now Howard gets to come in and be the main guy heading into the draft. Then they go add in Will Dissly, who in my mind will be an underrated player. When given an opportunity in 2019, Dissly was on pace for over 700 yards and double digit touchdowns before a season ending injury six games into the season. Unfortunately, he never got another chance to prove himself but that made him a cheaper option for the Jets to add some depth at the starved position.
James Daniels is maybe the player the Jets and the front office will covet the most and as my top center in the 2018 draft, I am ecstatic. An interior lineman who has played all three positions, while also only being 24 years old is not something you see very often. For a reference, he has four years experience and will be the same age as incoming rookie Bernhard Raimann. Nine to ten million a year is what we can expect to see and then he will flawlessly fill in at the right guard position between McGovern and Fant for the year. Apparently there is interest between the two sides so this could come together fairly quickly today.
BJ Hill could demand more on the market as he doesn’t have a spotrac market value, but based on what’s been put out there, six to eight million a year seems to be in his range and in this case they get him at six and a half million per year. Hill comes in after losing Foley and releasing Rankins. After a couple years in the tri-state area with the Giants, Hill was traded to Cincinnati last year and had a very solid year as both a pass rusher and against the run, helping the Bengals have a 180 on defense and getting to the Super Bowl.
Darius Phillips is another Bengal the Jets could be looking to bring in. At cornerback he brings a little more veteran depth but also provides as a replacement for the departing Braxton Berrios as a return man. Phillips was one of my favorites when he entered the draft a few years back out of Western Michigan.
To end it off, the Jets go out and get another teammate duo, this one from New Orleans, PJ and Marcus Williams. PJ provides as a potential starting option at a safety spot but could also play nickel as that’s what he has done and continuously got better at while with the Saints. Adding him to Ashtyn Davis, Joyner and Parks gives them a few different guys they can rotate in there. As for Marcus Williams, he is the big ticket free agent in this class. A 25 year old pure centerfield safety is something that can help this defense drastically, the cornerbacks in particular. There are Saints fans out there that think Williams may be the most important part of the very successful Saints defense and that alone is enough to go after him. After coming into the league in 2017, he has been nothing but a consistent force in the secondary, Minneapolis Miracle aside. At the end of the day, this will allow the defensive front the get a little more time to get to the quarterback, which is all we want.
These free agent signings would be a great start in the direction of taking the next step, on the defense especially. No, not every position that was needed was filled but to lessen the load for the draft is ultimately what the goal is of free agency, not to fill every hole.
1.4 – CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati
- Neal, Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are off the board to start. That leaves us with Ikem Ekwonu, Sauce Gardner and Kyle Hamilton as the most realistic options at this point. Considering the money spent on safeties this offseason, it comes down to Ickey and Sauce. Ickey is very, very enticing here but with two first rounders used on the offensive line in the last two years, James Daniels being brought in at 24 years old, they have three young building blocks moving forward and two fine stop gaps (at the very least), in George Fant and Connor McGovern. Instead of adding to the front, they get their number one corner. Gardner brings more than a cool nickname. His combination of size and athleticism on the outside in addition to his production in his three seasons at Cincinnati is unparalleled. No, Douglas and Saleh do not value corner as much as the rest of the league, but considering the only money spent at the position was on Darius Phillips, who is more depth than anything, Gardner or a top corner in general was a must in this draft. This move completes the overhaul of the secondary. The two Williams’s from New Orleans can be the main duo at safety and now Gardner comes in and allows Echols to get moved to a more comfortable spot as the top backup with Michael Carter continuing to flourish as the nickel corner moving forward.
1.10 – TRADE
- Traded with Browns (10, 110 for 13, 78 and 98)
1.13 – EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
- The Browns came in with an offer of the 78th pick and I countered with moving up 12 spots from the mid fourth to the late third round. This allowed us to recoup what we gave up from the Brandin Cooks trade while also keeping us in position to take either a top receiver or defensive end. And just like part of the thought process at four, since there was no money spent at the position in free agency and there are concerns about depth there, we go back to back defense with Jermaine Johnson. Johnson could easily go earlier in this draft but I think the mid-late teens is his floor, after a stellar draft season for the Seminole senior. After transferring from Georgia to Florida State, you wonder why he couldn’t get more playing time in Athens, regardless of how talented the rest of their line was. Johnson improved yet again in his last season and then dominated the Senior Bowl against NFL competition. Joining this defensive front, this will allow Saleh and Ulbrich to be more creative with John Franklin-Myers who can play inside and out and give more playable depth at the position, especially with the return of Carl Lawson.
1.27 – TRADE – WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
- Traded with Tampa Bay (35, 78 and 116 for 27 and 132)
- Keeping an eye on the wide receivers, we could not let Burks drop any further. Trading away the third rounder from the Cleveland trade and moving back 16 picks in the fourth round seems like the right deal to make to get a playmaker of Burks’ caliber. Personally, I have my qualms about Burks and no it has nothing to do with the disappointing Combine. It is more so his effort and route running. However, his size, speed, physicality and potential are seen as very intriguing to quite a few people, myself included. He is the fourth best receiver in this class, in my eyes, but has the highest ceiling of the bunch and the Jets are one of the perfect landing spots for him. He can be used as a “Deebo” type player in Lafleur’s offense where he lines up inside, in the backfield and occasionally outside too. A foursome of Elijah Moore, Brandin Cooks, Corey Davis and Treylon Burks is not only a good group for your second year quarterback, but one that fits this offense and are all very complimentary of each other.
2.38 – TE Trey McBride, Colorado State
- Tight end cannot be ignored again. Unfortunately only able to sign OJ Howard in free agency, but adding Trey McBride to the mix, who is yet another ideal fit for the Lafleur offense, is a great addition and a player who could have an instant impact in the offense. A good blend of receiver and blocker, but as a receiver McBride possesses maybe the best hands in the entire class. He is aggressive at the catch point and does not seem to have trouble bringing down the ball, any given target. Considering the amount of drops the tight ends had last year for green and white, a player that actually provides the “security blanket” role would be one that could do wonders for Wilson as he continues to grow. Lafleur and Ron Middleton got to see McBride up close in personal down in Mobile and getting to coach him for the week, you have to know that the Colorado kid is 100% on their radar.
3.91 – TRADE – DL Logan Hall, Houston
- Traded with Tampa Bay (98 and 163 for 91)
- The defensive line took a pretty big hit losing guys like Foley Fatukasi and Sheldon Rankins. Getting BJ Hill will help minimize the losses but now being aggressive and bringing in Logan Hallputs those worries behind us. Hall, like Franklin-Myers has the flexibility to play inside and out, something Saleh loves from his defensive linemen, but here he will likely be playing inside more than anything else. Expect him to line up as a three-technique in this defense on passing downs early in his career. This is such a young team as it is, Douglas does not need to use all of these draft selections, so giving up the extra fifth round pick was worth moving up only seven spots in the third round to get our guy.
4.132 – iOL Cole Stange, Chattanooga
- Good teams bring in offensive linemen every single draft. This is arguably the most important position group so if you can do it, you do it regardless of the round. So with our last pick after all of the trading, they take a chance on the small school kid, Cole Strange. Strange made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl a couple of months ago, holding his own in front of the NFL and the Jets coaching staff in particular. In this situation, he will have the luxury to sit behind a steady group of starters along the interior of the line but could very well get his opportunity come 2023 after McGovern’s contract expires. Strange is a good fit for the zone blocking scheme as he is better known for his athleticism (9.95 RAS at Combine) than anything else.
The Jets will have to do some maneuvering with the cap and reconstructing contracts and such because believe it or not I am not a cap expert. But this is definitely doable with some of the players they have under contract and then trying to backload a couple of the contracts above.
(3) QB: Zach Wilson, Mike White*, Joe Flacco*
(3) HB: Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman*, Ty Johnson, Isaih Pacheco**
(1) FB: Nick Bawden*
(6) WR: Elijah Moore, Brandin Cooks, Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Treylon Burks*, DJ Montgomery
(3) TE: OJ Howard, Trey McBride*, Ryan Griffin*
(3) OT: Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Connor McDermmot*
(3) OG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, James Daniels, Cole Strange*
(1) C: Conor McGovern
(5) DE: Carl Lawson, Bryce Huff, John Franklin-Myers, Bradlee Anae, Jermaine Johnson*
(4) DT: Quinnen Williams, BJ Hill, Nathan Shephard*, Logan Hall*
(5) LB: CJ Mosley, Quincy Williams, Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Blake Cashman
(6) CB: Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Michael Carter, Darius Phillips, Justin Hardee, Sauce Gardner*
(6) S: Marcus Williams, PJ Williams, Ashtyn Davis, Will Parks*, Lamarcus Joyner*, Jason Pinnock
(1) K: Eddy Pinero
(1) P: Braden Mann
(1) LS: Thomas Hennessey
BOLD – Free agent/trade acquisition
Italicized – Re-signed
BOLD & Italicized – Rookie