The New York Jets have a grand total of 8 defensive players, 10 offensive players, and our kicker currently set to be free agents. However, barely any of these players are big names, since most of the Jets key players are still playing on their rookie contracts, but some crucial decisions need to be made. We’ll go through the stats of all the free agents and decide what the Jets should do – should they try and resign them, or let them walk?
The pending free agents on defense are a little more interesting, so we’ll start with them.
Huff only played 191 defensive snaps in 2022, but he made the most of each one. He had the 9th highest pressure rate in the NFL (22%), and his PFF defensive grade of 90.4 was 4th out of all defensive ends (only behind Myles Garrett, Micah Parsons, and Nick Bosa). Huff is a stellar player in the rotation, and he definitely deserves to see more snaps next year. Verdict: Keep 100% No Matter What
Rankins played about half of the Jets defensive snaps last season and played solidly. Compared to other defensive tackles, he was much higher ranked in run defense than in pass rush, but he did add 4 sacks and got 25 pressures on opposing quarterbacks. He had the highest PFF defensive grade of his career in 2022, and that ranked 22nd out of all defensive tackles. Verdict: Keep, but at a reasonable price
Shepherd also played limited snaps, but he was another player who was effective when he was on the field. He only had 2 sacks, but his PFF pass rush grade of 79.5 was 9th out of all defensive tackles! He definitely needs to improve in the run defense, and should be a cheap player to bring back. Verdict: Keep
Quincy Williams and Kwon Alexander
I grouped the two linebackers together because I think the Jets should bring one back, and probably let one walk (needing to add a starting LB in free agency or the draft). Quincy and Kwon are both solid linebackers and had the highlight reel plays and hits, but both have obvious weaknesses. Deciding who to keep has been a very back and forth game – PFF graded Kwon much higher than Quincy (and he did have less mistakes in tackling), but Quincy has improved each season and had an insane 12 tackles for loss this season. It will be hard to let Quincy go since he’s such an amazing presence on the Jets with Quinnen, but I probably have to give the edge to Kwon. Verdict: Keep one – giving priority to Kwon over Quincy
Probably one of the most underwhelming former 3rd overall picks in the draft, Thomas had a PFF defensive grade below 50, which was 98th out of all 126 qualified defensive tackles in 2022. That grade is the second worst of his career, and he’s shown no signs of any improvement. Verdict: Let Walk
Curry only played 184 defensive snaps in 2022, but unlike Huff, he did not make the most of his limited time on the field whatsoever. His PFF grades were the worst of his career, and he only accounted for 1 quarterback hit and 0 sacks. Not much reasons there to bring him back given the Jets depth. Verdict: Let Walk
People will be fooled by Joyner’s 3 interceptions and a couple weeks where he didn’t let any receivers get open, but that’s where the positives end for Joyner. He was one of the lowest graded safeties, and was pretty awful in coverage (also allowed 15 yards per reception), and his weaknesses were masked by the stellar cornerback play. There’s much better FA safeties out there and the Jets just traded for Chuck Clark who will most likely take at least Joyner’s spot. Verdict: Let Walk
The Jets pending free agents on offense are mostly depth pieces and backups, but let’s look at the stats behind them.
McGovern was the only healthy piece of the offensive line for the Jets in 2022, and just that fact should be enough for the Jets to keep him. He was PFF’s 10th highest graded center, and his grade of 69.6 was the 3rd highest of his career (that grade was also the same for both pass blocking and run blocking). He did give up 5 sacks and 24 pressures, and even though there’s some good free agent centers that will be available, McGovern’s been an overall consistent player. Verdict: Keep
White was stellar before Matt Milano broke his ribs, which effectively ended the Jets playoff hopes. He’s a high quality backup who should be above Zach in the depth chart. The Jets will need to keep 3 quarterbacks on the roster given the injury prevalence in the past, and I think they should try and bring White back to backup the likely starter Aaron Rodgers. Verdict: Keep
Herbig played a good chunk of snaps at guard for the Jets after all the injuries to other players. He did have his lowest PFF grade of his career at 58, but he only allowed 1 sack and 3 quarterback hits. His grade isn’t horrible for a player who should be used as a depth piece, which the Jets desperately need. Verdict: Keep For Depth
Johnson stepped up big when his number was called, averaging 5.3 yards per rush, 4 yards after contact, and even forced 12 missed tackles. He only placed 172 snaps, but had one of the highest PFF rushing grades at 90.2. He’s a great depth piece who proved he belongs on the roster. Verdict: Keep For Depth
Feeney’s been an absolute character since he joined the Jets, but he’s consistently been a below-average guard. He only saw 109 snaps in 2022, and his PFF grades were slightly below average for his career, but they were still above some of the other Jets free agent offensive lineman. Verdict: 50/50, Potentially Keep for Depth
Smith only caught 8 passes in 2022, but averaged 16.8 yards per reception. He’s been a decent backup option for the Jets for the past couple of years, so they could try and bring him back for the same role. Verdict: 50/50, Potentially Keep for Depth
Bawden didn’t get any action this season, and the Jets don’t really use the fullback position at all in their system. There probably won’t be a difference if he ends up back on the roster or not. Verdict: 50/50
Fant was supposed to be a promising tackle, but he had the 5th lowest PFF offensive grade out of all tackles in 2022, and his grade of 48.4 wasn’t even the worst of his career. He allowed 5 sacks, 27 pressures, and 8 hits, all numbers that should not at all result in him being brought back. Verdict: Let Walk
The Jets brought in Ogbuehi as another depth piece who unfortunately had to see the field, a place where he hurt the Jets more than he helped them. His PFF grade of 47.7 was the worst of his career, and the Jets don’t need Ogbuehi in the future, not even as a depth piece. Verdict: Let Walk
Robinson didn’t live up to the hype when the Jets brought him in after Breece Hall’s injury, but they also didn’t give him much of an opportunity. He had the worst season of his career, only averaging 3.9 yards per rush and 2.4 yards after contact (both stats being are ages lower than Ty Johnson). Verdict: Let Walk
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS
Greg the Leg had a great year, and fans were pretty confident in him hitting the long field goals. Zuerlein went 30/37 on field goals (6/11 from 50+) and made all but one extra point. The Jets could test out a kicker in the draft, but Zuerlein is solid. Verdict: Keep