The New York Jets approach a free agency period with the second-most cap space in the NFL. Last offseason, the Jets played it relatively safe with short-term low money deals and a load of stopgaps. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network recently went on the Moose & Maggie show on WFAN, where he said adamantly he expects the Jets to be active players in this go-around. The Jets are rumored to be gunning for a massive offensive line upgrade, an addition at receiver, and a boost at the edge. So, how will Gang Green handle free agency? Well, here are my predictions.
Three players the New York Jets should be in on:
CB Kâ€™Waun Williams
The Jets will likely let Brian Poole walk this offseason. Instead, they can opt to go after someone who has familiarity with the defense in nickelback Kâ€™Waun Williams. Williams has played for Saleh in San Francisco and produced at a very high level. As a consistent piece of the 49ers defense, he put up 73 tackles, 7 TFLs, 3.0 sacks, 5 Forced Fumbles, and 2 INTs over the last two seasons in a span of 23 games. Williams has the obviously Saleh connection, but the New Jersey native could opt to come back to his roots with gang green. Williams would immediately bolster their secondary and provide a sense of stability at the nickelback role heading into next season.Â
G Joe Thuney
Last offseason, the Jets were ready to back up the brinks truck for Joe Thuney, with the 28-year-old set to hit the open market, itâ€™s reasonable to expect they make a run at him. I firmly expect the Jets to ink Thuney. Thuney is a consistent and productive lineman who also provides versatility. The incredibly intelligent former state champion has had success everywhere he has gone, both on the field and off. He graduated early with prestige from NC State, got selected by the Patriots, and went on to win two rings with the team. Thuney would provide a veteran presence, high caliber play, and stability to a rebuilding unit. Thuney is the player the Jets NEED to come away with this offseason in order to truly commit to the offensive line rebuild.Â
WR JuJu Smith SchusterÂ Â
The New York Jets can go two routes with addressing the receiver position. They can target a young WR2 type player and pair him with Denzel Mims and rely on Crowder in the slot. Or, they can swing big and go for a legit WR1. JuJu Smith Schuster can be that WR1. He will command big money and a high level of attention. Last season JuJu received a lot of scrutiny for the way he handled himself and his off-the-field Tik Tok endeavors. Despite all the negative attention, JuJu remained relatively unfazed. I think JuJu can handle himself well in New York on and off the field. Schuster would be a good complementary receiver one, and he could do massive things in the LaFleur offense, so I see the Jets taking a shot on the receiver.
Edge Yannick NgakoueÂ
This is a move Iâ€™ve gone back and forth on heavily. The Jets desperately need to upgrade the edge, and I believe they will try to in free agency. How the Jets upgrade the position will depend on how the market falls. The edge group is deep, and Ngakoue is arguably one of the best of the bunch. The Jets reportedly coveted him last offseason when he was traded, and at 25 years old, he still holds immense value. With 45.5 career sacks, 18 forced fumbles, 49 TFLs, and 96 QB Hits, Ngakoue is an absolute force off the edge. I expect Ngakoue to look for a long-term deal and find a permanent home. I think the Jets with Robert Saleh would be a great fit for the former Pro Bowler. The Jets have not had a legitimate presence off the edge in decades, and by taking a shot at Ngakoue, they can finally establish a presence.