This offseason is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book for Jets general manager Joe Douglas.
Douglas faces so many options because of how many holes the Jets still have on their roster. He can choose to fill some of those holes this week in free agency or kick the can down the road to next month’s NFL draft. He can wheel and deal and make a trade with some of the draft capital he has built up over the past two years. He can spend big money or search for value.
The options are plentiful as free agency kicks off Monday at noon when the negotiating window opens. Here are six positions we think the Jets will be monitoring heavily this week and where they are most likely to make moves in free agency:
The Jets bolstered this position last year with the drafting of Elijah Moore and the signing of Corey Davis. But they still need help. They are expected to let Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole depart in free agency. They could bring back their own free agent, Braxton Berrios, if the price is right. Berrios and his agent are seeking to be paid like a top slot receiver. The Jets view him as a very good kick returner who can be a No. 4 wide receiver. We’ll see who the market agrees with. If Berrios returns, that could be it for moves here. Allen Robinson is the top receiver on the market but he is looking for a big payday. Douglas likely will only get in on Robinson if he sees the price tag coming down.
Douglas could also explore trades at receiver. The Jets did have some interest in Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper but not under his current contract which pays him $20 million this year. The Browns took on Cooper’s contract and now they put Jarvis Landry on the trade block. He is another player with a bloated contract the Jets would want reworked if they were interested in dealing for him.
The Jets need an upgrade here to help out quarterback Zach Wilson. They could bring Tyler Kroft back for a second season, but Douglas needs to do more. O.J. Howard from the Buccaneers and Evan Engram from the Giants are both first-round talents who have not lived up to their potential, but they are 27 and seem like they could be low-risk, high-reward players. Hayden Hurst and Tyler Conklin are other names to watch here.
Interior offensive line
Douglas has bolstered the offensive line since he got the job but the job is not finished. The Jets should come out of this week with either a center or a guard. Laken Tomlinson (49ers) is one of the top names the Jets are expected to be in on. They also hope to bring back Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Dan Feeney. Douglas could wind up with some nice depth on the line.
Interior defensive line
The Jets have a big free agent of their own here with Folorunso Fatukasi. The Jets still have hope to bring him back but there is a feeling that Fatukasi is going to get paid in free agency. That likely means he’ll be leaving the Jets. If he does, the Jets will likely turn to one of the other free agents at the position like D.J. Jones from the 49ers or Sebastian Joseph-Day from the Rams. They also might lose Nathan Shepherd as a free agent so adding depth here could be important.
The Jets liked what they got out of their young cornerbacks last year but know they still could use more talent at the position. That could come at the top of the draft because this free-agent market might be too rich for Douglas. Sources said the Jets are not interested in Patriots free agent J.C. Jackson, who could get around $20 million a year. The Buccaneers’ Carlton Davis could be an option for the Jets if his market does not get out of control. Davis should command about $15 million per year.
The Jets re-signed Lamarcus Joyner this week but are expected to let Marcus Maye leave in free agency. Don’t expect the Jets to be a bidder on top free-agent safety Marcus Williams of the Saints. The Jets are not going to tie up major money at a non-premium position. Tyrann Mathieu of the Chiefs would be a nice veteran leader for the Jets but they must decide how much he has left. Jordan Whitehead (Bucs), Terrell Edmunds (Steelers) and Quandre Diggs (Seahawks) are the next group of free agents. Douglas will pounce if he sees a soft market. If not, this is another position he could address in the draft.