Free agency is almost here for the New York Jets. A big step towards ending the nearly decade-long rebuilding process can be had if the Jets address pressing issues on both sides of the ball.
Offensive line, wide receiver and cornerback are the priority position groups that will need to be addressed.
A primer on the state of the Jets and the available market as the Jets dive into free agency.
2019 RECORD: The season ended with six wins from their final eight games, lifting the Jets to a 7-9 record and a bit of optimism heading into the offseason.
Wins over the Pittsburgh Steeler, Oakland Raiders and at the playoff-bound Buffalo Bills in Week 17 were signature moments from the six wins in the second half of the season.
2020 UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
Ryan Kalil (center)
Kelvin Beachum (offensive tackle)
Robby Anderson (wide receiver)
Brian Poole (corner back)
Demaryius Thomas (wide receiver)
Trevor Siemian (quarterback)
Rontez Miles (safety)
Brandon Copeland (defensive end)
Tom Compton (guard)
Neville Hewitt (linebacker)
Brent Qvale (offensive tackle)
Bilal Powell (running back)
Ty Montgomery (running back)
2020 RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
James Burgess (linebacker)
Arthur Maulet (cornerback)
Leo Koloamatangi (offensive tackle)
B.J. Bello (linebacker)
Josh Malone (wide receiver)
Brandon Shell (offensive tackle)
Lac Edwards (punter)
SALARY CAP SPACE:
With the expected release of cornerback Trumaine Johnson, as first reported by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets figure to have roughly $53 million in salary cap space heading into free agency next week.
They enter the offseason fourteenth in the NFL in salary cap space.
FREE AGENT GAME PLAN:
Of their current group of free agents, the Jets likely will want to keep the productive and explosive Robby Anderson, who came on in the second half of the season with several big games. If he doesn’t put too much of a dent into the salary cap, the Jets would like to retain Anderson as he was the team’s biggest playmaker a season ago. But Anderson could well price himself out of the market for the Jets.
Offensive tackle Brent Qvale is quality depth along the offensive line and safety Rontez Miles, despite being injury prone, is another good depth piece who could be retained. The Jets should want to keep both.
The biggest need is along the offensive line where the Jets could use four starters in free agency and the NFL Draft. They also need at least one starting cornerback and an edge rusher as well.
And the Jets need to keep money for Jamal Adams, set to enter the fourth year of his rookie contract and eyeing a long-term deal.
FIVE FREE AGENT TARGETS:
Jack Conklin – A physical offensive tackle, Conklin has been a bedrock of a very solid Tennessee Titans offensive line the past four years, where he has 57 starts during that span. He might be the most in-demand offensive lineman of free agency. The Jets will have interest.
Mackensie Alexander – Coming off a down year in 2019, Alexander might be a bit under the radar in free agency. He’s a solid cornerback who, in 2018 for the Minnesota Vikings had 43 tackles and 10 passes defended. The Jets desperately need cornerback depth and Alexander could be a great fit on the outside or in the slot.
Graham Glasgow – Set to turn 28-years old this summer, the Detroit Lions guard is entering his prime. He’s a physical presence with good footwork who can pull and get down the field. For an offensive line that needs upgrading, Glasgow is a solid free agent target.
Connor McGovern – Another offensive line target, the reliable Denver Broncos center could anchor the Jets offensive line. He’s strong and tremendous in run blocking, an area where the Jets struggled last season. Can also play at guard.
Tajae Sharpe – Despite a bit of a drop in production from his rookie season in 2016, Sharpe still posted career-highs in yards per reception (13.2) and touchdowns (4) in 2019. The Titans wide receiver has good size and while not an elite wide receiver, has the ability to upgrade a major position of need on the roster. Bonus: Sharpe hails from New Jersey and played high school football at Piscataway.