Mike Maccagnan promised to be “very active” in the early stage of free agency. He wasn’t kidding.
In a span of 18 hours, Tuesday into Wednesday, the New York Jets‘ general manager retained quarterback Josh McCown and added five free agents: quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, running back Isaiah Crowell, center Spencer Long, linebacker Avery Williamson and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. On Thursday night, they reached a deal to bring back cornerback Morris Claiborne.
This is a good time for a reset, analyzing the current depth chart and what moves still need to be made:
What’s next? The focus shifts to the draft. With the sixth overall pick, the Jets will look to take a quarterback. Prediction: They will trade up, possibly to No. 3 (Indianapolis Colts), to get the quarterback they want. That would put Petty or Hackenberg in immediate danger. They could bring one of them to training camp as insurance. Remember, Bridgewater is attempting to come back from a devastating knee injury and there are no guarantees.
What’s next? They’re set for now, but there’s nothing that will stop them from drafting a runner if the value is there. They have tremendous flexibility at this position. Powell is entering the final year of his contract, and Crowell’s contract (three years, $12 million) is more like a one-year, $4 million deal. The Jets can easily bail after a year.
What’s next? In a perfect world, the Jets would be able to find a No. 1 receiver in free agency or the draft. Not happening. They can go into the season with this group, although it’s worth noting that Kearse, Anderson and Enunwa aren’t signed beyond this season. It wouldn’t be a shock if they shop Anderson before the draft, but he’ll be tough to move because of his off-the-field issues.
What’s next? They lost Austin Seferian-Jenkins to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fans might disagree, but the Jets like the current depth chart. The coaches are eager to see Leggett and believe he can fill the Seferian-Jenkins role, but it’s a gamble because he’s coming off a rookie season in which he saw no action because of a knee injury. The free-agent market is filled with has-beens.
What’s next? Depth is a concern, particularly behind Beachum at left tackle. Maybe they can re-sign Ben Ijalana, a free agent.
What’s next? Where are the backups? There are none, as Dakota Dozier, Jonotthan Harrison and Wesley Johnson (former starting center) are testing free agency. Look for the Jets to sign a couple of free agents, then add to that in the draft. When healthy, Long is an upgrade over Johnson. The interior pass protection will be improved.
What’s next? Maccagnan said recently the defensive line isn’t a priority area. Oh no? The Jets have only four players under contract, and two of them might not make the team. You bet it’s a priority. Kony Ealy and Mike Pennel are free agents. The Jets are interested in re-signing Pennel, but he’s strictly a rotational player. This is the biggest need on the team.
What’s next? They need a rush linebacker to play opposite Jenkins, but there aren’t any good ones in free agency. Teams don’t let quality edge rushers hit the market. They had interest in Kareem Martin, but he wound up signing with the New York Giants. This will have to be a position addressed in the draft. Donahue’s status is up in the air because of his recent DWI arrest.
Williamson, Darron Lee
What’s next? Obviously, they need some bodies in reserve roles. They lost Julian Stanford to the Buffalo Bills and Bruce Carter is a free agent. On Thursday, they visited with Kevin Pierre-Louis, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs. The big story, though, is the change in the middle. The Jets budgeted a certain amount of money for the position, deciding Williamson (three years, $22.5 million) was a better investment than incumbent Demario Davis, who left for the New Orleans Saints (three years, $24 million). The main reason: Williamson is three years younger than Davis. The downside to Williamson is that he’s not a three-down player.
What’s next? No work needed here. They re-signed Brooks and made a tender offer to Miles, so their depth is intact. What about the possibility of Tyrann Mathieu, aka the Honey Badger? Keep dreaming. It’s not happening, not after the Jets drafted two safeties last year.
What’s next? Claiborne agreed to a one-year deal Thursday night, so the Jets should be set, if they keep Skrine ($8.5 million cap charge) in the nickel role. They also have a couple of young players in the pipeline, Derrick Jones and Jeremy Clark.
What’s next? They’d better hope Santos, signed Thursday, is healthy. He spent most of last season on injured reserve because of the twice-injured groin. The Jets lost Chandler Catanzaro go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because they didn’t want to match his $3 million guarantee. Statistically, Catanzaro and Santos are comparable.