With the NFL’s league year set to start tomorrow at 4 PM let’s look at some key positions that the Jets can possibly fill in the first week of free-agency. I expect the team to make some splashes in free agency, but not like the 2015 spending spree, this time GM Mike Maccagnan is sure to focus on younger, cheaper players, not established big money vets on the wrong side of 30.
Quarterback: Obviously this has been the biggest question mark for the Jets for nearly the last 50 years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be a franchise savior available for the Jets in free agency. That being said, there are some solid options.
Mike Glennon: the former Bucs backup has been making headlines over the last few days regarding a report that he could command $14-$15 million per year. That’s astounding for someone who has sat behind Jameis Winston for the last two years, and was shaky in his starts before that. Certain NFL Coaches and GM’s rave about Glennon and his chances of blossoming into a quality starter. I doubt the Jets will shell out that much money, but Maccagnan has been interested in Glennon since he got to the Jets, so anything is possible. Expect them to pounce if that price drops.
Tyrod Taylor: A lot of Jets fans are clamoring to sweep up the Bills’ QB if they decide to release him onto the open market. To me, that’s still a big “if”. Seeing how much money a guy like Glennon may command on the market, the Bills may be less reluctant to sign Taylor’s $30 million guarantee if they don’t see any prospects on the market. That being said, if Taylor becomes available, the Jets are poised to make a run at him, but I see it as one that becomes too pricey for the Jets to risk. If Glennon is getting $15 million, Taylor is getting probably $17 million, is he really worth that?
Brian Hoyer: Nothing gets people excited like former Bears/Texans/Browns/Cardinals/Steelers/Patriots QB Brian Hoyer……… okay, so Hoyer may not be the most exciting name on the list, but look at these numbers from his last two seasons with the Bears and Texans: 63.9 comp. %, 25 TD’s, 7 INT’s, 7.2 YPA. For context, that’s much better than what Glennon has done in his career, and Hoyer wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Taylor would (whose stats are only marginally better). Hoyer is a perfect bridge QB who can be a serviceable starter. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Jets make a play for him.
Tackle: What good is getting any of the QB’s listed above if he winds up on the ground each play. The Jets need blindside protection, and they need it bad.
Riley Reiff: The former first round pick is coming off of his rookie contract and will be looking to test the market and get to a team that will play him at Left Tackle. The Lions recently moved him to Right Tackle when they drafted Taylor Decker. Reiff brings great versatility and talent to the line. With the emergence of Brandon Shell, and perhaps the drafting of an early round tackle, and the potential re-signing of Ben Ijalana, picking up Reiff Jets can have some flexibility with their tackles.
Russell Okung: A big name player who will command big time money, even though he thoroughly disappointed last season in Denver. My guess is that Maccagnan is done with offering big contracts to players close to 30.
Secondary: The Jets secondary was dreadful last season, the release of Darrelle Revis signified the big changes that are coming. The team will certainly look to the draft for a blue chip cornerback, as well as the expected improvement of CB Juston Burris, but a solid free agent signing will go a long way towards rebuilding this unit.
S Tony Jefferson: Head Coach Todd Bowles must be banging down the door for Maccagnan to bring in the Cardinals safety. Jefferson had an outstanding year and is one of the leagues most underrated players. His arrival would either make Calvin Pryor available for a trade, or allow him to switch into a hybrid S/LB role, similar to how Bowles used Dionne Buchanan with the Cardinals. Jefferson, who just turned 25, will command big money, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets commit. Would be a great pickup.
CB Logan Ryan: Out of all the names being thrown around in the cornerback conversation, I believe the Patriot’s Logan Ryan has been the one talked about least. The Patriots definitely want to keep him around, but we know Bill Belichek won’t pay a penny more than he wants to, so Ryan may shake loose. If he does, he will make the most sense for the Jets, a physical corner, who can slide into the #2 role immediately and won’t command as much money as some of the higher priced CB’s on the market.
CB Trumaine Johnson: Word on the street is that the recently franchise-tagged Johnson is on the trading block. Is it possible the Jets try and shop DE Sheldon Richardson and a pick over to Los Angeles for a shut down corner? They would need to agree on a long term deal first, but it is a possibility. In my opinion, Johnson was the most talented corner on the market before he was tagged.
CB’s Stephon Gilmore & A.J. Bouye: With Johnson tagged, Gilmore and Bouye became the top two corners remaining. I believe the Jets will look into both of them but will hesitate giving them the big money they will be looking for. Expect them to make a harder push for Bouye, Maccagnan was the Texans scouting director when they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2013.