Having rounded out their coaching staff, the New York Jets head into free agency with several holes to fill. Armed with the second highest cap space, the pressure is on GM Mike Maccagnan to spend the money wisely.
While there will be some high-profile names available, the Jets should focus on getting younger, hungrier players who can aid the team’s needs and help them grow as a unit. Three players who fit the bill would provide quarterback Sam Darnold two weapons on offense and help fill the pass-rushing void the Jets have had for the longest time.
Taking a look at three options the New York Jets should consider in FA:
Assuming the Jets cut ties with Isaiah Crowell, they will need a new running back that can do it all to give the offense additional firepower. The big, sexy name on the free agent market right now is, of course, Le’Veon Bell. After sitting out the 2018 season, the 3-time Pro Bowler is looking for a huge payday. While Jet fans and Jamal Adams alike would love to add Bell, he isn’t the best fit for the team. Given their multiple needs, the Jets would be better off not breaking the bank for a potential locker room headache.
Enter Tevin Coleman, who has the potential to be a valuable consolation prize. While filling in for Falcons star Devonta Freeman, Coleman posted multiple career highs last year. These included rushing yards (800), receptions (32), and receiving touchdowns (5).
Only 25, Coleman has yet to hit his prime and would complement fellow running back Elijah McGuire well. His size (6’1”, 210 pounds) and versatility would make him a dynamic Swiss-army-knife in Adam Gase’s offense. Plus, he’s sure to come at a much cheaper price than Bell would.
The Jets have not had a quality pass rusher, or really any kind of pass rush since John Abraham was on the squad. Mike Maccagnan should be driven to find one or two of them for his team. While it would be great to pry away a potential star like Demarcus Lawrence from the Cowboys or a familiar face like Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans, both are likely to receive the franchise tag and never make it to free agency.
However, the Jets could, and should, turn to another familiar face to give them an edge: Trey Flowers. The 25-year-old has spent the past few seasons wreaking havoc for the New England Patriots. He posted 57 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles while leading the Patriots defense to another Super Bowl run.
Trey would be a fantastic addition for the Jets and Gregg Williams’ 4-3 defense. He can move around the defense and also plays the run very well. PFF graded him the 8th best run-stopper among edge rushers last season. With Leonard Williams at the other end, the Jets could have two young players that can dominate in the future and help turn the tables on the Patriots.
Another task on the Jets’ do-to-list is to pick up a #1 wide receiver for Sam Darnold. There are a few, rumored big names that could be available via trade, including Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. It would be smart for the Jets not to go down the trade route though. Having given away several picks to secure their franchise quarterback last year, they should hold on to the picks they have, or even trade down for more draft capital. Odds are that the Steelers wouldn’t trade Brown to an AFC team anyway, and he’d be yet another distraction in the Jets locker room. The same could be said for Beckham Jr., and a Giants-Jets trade would be shocking, to say the least.
While the options are slim in free agency, one player the Jets should kick the tires on is Devin Funchess. After having a breakout year in 2017 with 8 touchdowns, he seemed ready to become the Panthers’ #1 receiver. However, injuries to Funchess and his quarterback, Cam Newton, played a role in a lackluster season for the former. The Panthers even made him a healthy scratch in Week 17.
In spite of that, the Jets should give Funchess a shot. At 6’4” and 236 pounds, he could give Sam Darnold a big red zone target. He would have a shot to prove himself in greener pastures, and he’d contribute to a solid receiving trio with Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. In addition, he’ll only be turning 25 this year, so he has time to rebound and grow before reaching his prime.
This will be a huge offseason for the Jets. They have an opportunity to reshape their team and get some quality players with their massive cap space. The key for them is to further develop their young core and attempting to sign the three players listed above will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.