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Grading the Jets Free Agency Moves

From Laken Tomlinson and Tyler Conklin to Jordan Whitehead and D.J. Reed, here are grades for each of New York's moves in free agency thus far.

Just over a week removed from the start of the free agency period, the New York Jets’ roster looks a bit different. Like any four-win team, New York had a handful of holes to fill up and down the depth chart, and even though Joe Douglas and his staff are armed with four of the top 40 picks in the NFL Draft, they needed to make a splash in free agency to leave themselves with even the slimmest of margins for error.

Typical of the Douglas era, there wasn’t one big splash this free agency. Instead, the Jets made a series of smaller waves in the hopes that this roster can improve tangibly across the board. If they are to do so dramatically in a stacked AFC, the whole will have to be greater than the sum of its parts. Here are those parts, graded based on talent, fit and contract value.

49ers guard Laken Tomlinson smiles after win
Seattle Seahawks CB D.J. Reed returns interception
Cincinnati Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah hype before game
Minnesota Vikings TE Tyler Conklin runs after catch
Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead on defense
Houston Texans EDGE Jacob Martin pressures Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
Jets WR Braxton Berrios running with football
Jets running back Tevin Coleman runs against Patriots
Jets quarterback Joe Flacco warming up

Conor McDermott:

McDermott is probably best known for catching a touchdown on fourth-and-goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16. Unfortunately, his receiving skills have proven to be better than his blocking skills. McDermott has been forced into action a few times due to injuries by the Jets starters, and he struggled mightily. He’s not a reliable third tackle, and frankly, he doesn’t provide much as a fourth tackle either. New York isn’t exactly opening up the checkbook for McDermott, and the Jets can free more than half of his $1.5M salary by cutting him after training camp, but it’s hard to see any scenario in which McDermott makes any sort of leap this season.

Grade: C

Dan Feeney:

Like McDermott, Dan Feeney’s best attributes in New York haven’t come from playing offensive line. Known for his mustache, mullet and fan presence at New York Islanders games, Feeney drew some attention last offseason. When the pads came on, though, and he was forced into action, he was routinely overmatched. A contract like McDermott’s wouldn’t have been so bad, but Feeney is making $3M this season, all guaranteed, so he will make the 53-man roster this season. It’s hard to see how Feeney earned that designation on the field last year.

Grade: D

Lamarcus Joyner:

The Jets never got the chance to reap the benefits of the Joyner signing last season. He tore his triceps in Week One and missed the entire season. Giving him another chance in an otherwise weak safety room on a discounted price (one year, $2.6M) is probably a smart move for the Jets, who wanted to convert him back to safety last year after he played a few years as a nickel corner in Los Angeles. The Joyner signing certainly doesn’t preclude the Jets from drafting a safety. They almost certainly will draft one in the first three rounds. But given the guys New York had to play when the injuries piled up last year, having an insurance policy as versatile and experienced as Joyner makes a world of sense.

Grade: B+

Nathan Shepherd:

Shepherd is one of the few holdovers from the Mike Maccagnan era. In fact, he’s the longest tenured Jet. Let that sink in. The 28-year-old out of Fort Hays State has never really lived up to the expectations the Jets had for him when they selected him in the third round back in 2018. He’s struggled with positioning, penalties, and has never really meshed with the rest of the defensive line. Him getting a new contract in New York, even a minimum deal, is surprising. But if he doesn’t make the roster, he doesn’t pose any cap hit, so the Jets assume very little risk here. With Foley Fatukasi packing his bags for Jacksonville, maybe Shepherd can work his way into a roster spot. He’ll likely be competing with Jonathan Marshall and whomever the Jets select in the draft for an interior job.

Grade: C


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