NorthJersey.com reporters Andy Vasquez and Chris Iseman discuss the Jets’ 14-7 loss to the Chargers.
The Jets obviously need a quarterback. That is their top priority heading into free agency this offseason. But they also have a lot of holes to fill beyond just the quarterback position. After all, despite some unexpected success this season, the Jets are rebuilding.
The good news is the Jets have a lot of ways to fill these holes. General manager Mike Maccaganan should have in the neighborhood of $100 million in cap space, and will probably have a top 10 draft pick. So let’s take a look at what positions the Jets should try to fill in the coming months, outside of the quarterback position.
This is just about as important as finding a viable quarterback for the future. The offensive line has been inconsistent this season in both pass protection and generating a push for the run. It starts with center Wesley Johnson, who has struggled to replace Nick Mangold, the starter for a decade. You could see the Jets target Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow, Ohio State’s Billy Price or Georgia’s Isiah Wynn in the draft. All three are versatile and have experience at guard which is helpful. Also, the Jets could look toward the future at tackle. Kelvin Beachum and 2016 fifth-round pick Brandon Shell will likely be the starters next season, but Beachum will be 29 so the Jets could look toward the future.
Coaching: Players want him to stay, but Jets’ coach Todd Bowles won’t discuss job security
Quarterback: Here are five possibilities for 2018
The Jets have figured out the back end of their secondary with rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. But even if the team brings back Buster Skrine and free-agent-to-be Morris Claiborne, they’ll still need to bring in a starting caliber cornerback. Darryl Roberts has been inconsistent, and the Jets don’t know what they have in youngsters Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones, and Juston Burris and Rashard Robinson don’t seem to be the answer. Perhaps the Jets could take a run at Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, or Patriots CB Malcolm Butler in free agency, or they could use a draft pick to fill this need.
The Jets have been looking for an edge rusher, seemingly forever now. But while second-year outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins is off to a nice start to his career, he hasn’t been getting to the quarterback with great frequency. Expect the Jets to try (again) to address their edge rushing deficiency. DeMarcus Lawrence would be the dream scenario (he has 14.5 sacks through the first 15 games), but the Cowboys will almost certainly use the franchise tag on him. If the Jets don’t take a quarterback in the first round, perhaps they could pick Arden Key out of LSU. Other draft options include Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, and Boston College’s Harold Landry.
Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have both had nice seasons, but the Jets need a bonafide playmaker on offense. And they just don’t have it yet, and it’s too early to tell how rookies Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart will develop. This might be a good place for the Jets to make a big splash in free agency, with several big names set to hit the market including: Sammy Watkins (Rams), Jarvis Landry (Dolphins), Davante Adams (Packers), Alshon Jeffrey (Eagles), Terrelle Pryor (Redskins) and Allen Robinson (Jaguars, coming off a torn ACL).
The Jets will likely cut veteran Matt Forte, leaving Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire as their only running backs. Powell is having an impressive season, but he’ll turn 30 next October. So while this isn’t an immediately pressing issue for the Jets, they need to start thinking about the future. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell could hit the open market this season, and be a game changer for the offense. San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde is another free agent option. But don’t be surprised if the Jets don’t want to pay top dollar for a running back and try to find one in the draft.