What the New York Jets need to do to piece together an elite defense

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

The New York Jets’ defense ranked among the top half of the league and was ranked as one of the top rushing defenses in all of football last season. The defense was good but not great. With the defensive line figured out and filled with depth, C.J. Mosley returning, Avery Williamson potentially returning if he is not cut, the defense can be great. They just need to fill 2 vital holes.

Cornerback

Main Options

The Jets ideal route for filling the holes at corner would be to resign Brian Poole so the slot role is filled and then go about grabbing a lead corner in free agency. The biggest issue for the Jets is avoiding tying themselves to a contract resembling the headache they just freed themselves of in Trumaine Johnson.

The free agency class is top-heavy at corner but there is depth within the lower levels. James Bradberry and Byron Jones are reportedly being targeted by the Jets. Both guys would immediately become the Jets lead corner and fill a huge hole.

Bradberry is very underrated and has been Carolina’s top corner for the past few years. The Jets reportedly believe he is the better of the two and are willing to splurge on him. I believe Bradberry would be great but he wants to be a part of resetting the cornerback market and his contract may be too pricey.

Other Options

If the Jets miss out on the top two guys, Ronald Darby, Prince Amukamara, Jalen Mills, Chris Harris Jr., and Trae Waynes are among the guys the Jets could target. Even if the Jets get one of these guys to be their lead corner, the Jets need to grab a corner in the draft as well. By doing that the Jets would have two veteran CBs and two younger options, a draft pick and Bless Austin. This would drastically change the Jets secondary and potentially make it elite depending on the additions.

Pass Rush

John Abraham was the last elite pass rusher the Jets had. Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were both great defensive linemen but not capable of being pass rushers. The Jets drafted Jordan Jenkins a few years ago and he’s developed into a consistently good pass rusher, but he should be re-signed and used as a complementary pass rusher to a better pass rusher.

The Jets can go about filling that hole in a few ways. Free agency is an option, Dante Fowler Jr. and Markus Golden are two guys the Jets have been tied to and both would be great additions. In the draft, there are a few guys I have grown fond of in the pre-draft process. Bradlee Anae, Josh Uche, Kenny Wilekes, Curtis Weaver and Jonathan Greenard are all very talented pass rushers who could be available for the Jets on Days 2 and 3. Any of those guys would be great additions to the Jets and could be capable of becoming elite pass rushers. The Jets need to form an elite pass-rushing tandem, maybe even a trio. The overall goal needs to be an establishment of pass rush and finally getting playmakers at the edge.

The Jets need to get a few more “dawgs” and if they do that then the Jets will have an elite defense that can help lead this team to playoff contention.

New York Jets Roadmap To a Ring: Free Agency Predictions

New York Jets, Vic Beasley

This is section three of my multi-part series dedicated to laying out a blueprint for the New York Jets this offseason. It is essentially a blueprint of what I would do if I were in Joe Douglas’s shoes. Most moves are realistic, but keep in mind; there is A LOT of offseason to go. Part three is devoted to the “dawgs” the Jets should bring in during free agency.

Estimated Cap After Resigning Players & Cuts: $47,317,397

Joe Thuney G

Estimated Deal: $14 million a year for five years

Thuney is one of the best guards in football. He hasn’t missed a single game in his career, and he’s been one of the most efficient offensive linemen. Thuney is going to command BIG money, but that’s what you have to pay to get the best. Douglas needs to splurge and get a beast to pair with Alex Lewis on this offensive line. This would be a phenomenal move.

Ronald Darby CB

Estimated Deal: $5 million a year for two years

Darby was a very talented corner for the Eagles, but he had an awful campaign last year. He still has potential mainly because he played banged up most of last year, and in a Gregg Williams defense, Darby should be successful. Offensive line was prioritized, so the Jets subsequently miss out on Bradberry and Jones in this scenario, but the low-cost option in Darby is a good one.

Vic Beasley EDGE

Estimated Deal: $7.5 million a year for three years

Beasley is an underrated productive edge rusher. In his career, he’s had 37.5 sacks. He had eight sacks last season, and he is a major Swiss Army knife that Gregg Williams would love to have. Adding two low-cost, efficient players in Darby and Beasley immediately improves the defense. Pairing Beasley with Jenkins could be the edge-rushing answer for the short term.

Demarcus Robinson WR

Estimated Deal: $4 million a year for two years

Robinson can be a cheap asset for this team, and he allows for draft flexibility. Robinson would be able to slot in with Crowder, Doctson, and likely two draft picks and immediately become a vital piece of the offense. Gase would be able to have fun with a young receiver like Robinson, who is a dynamic playmaker.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai OL

Estimated Deal: $9.5 million a year for four years

Vaitai is an underrated value signing that I would be ecstatic for. Vaitai is a Super Bowl Champion who filled in admirably for Jason Peters in the past. Vaitai is versatile and has a connection to Douglas. By signing Vaitai, you add a starting-caliber lineman who can play wherever. Adding a guy like him makes Beachum less important and nearly expendable. Beachum could be a reliable mentor at left tackle for a rookie and excellent backup. Overall, Vaitai and Thuney immediately makes the offensive line more suitable for Sam Darnold. With the two of them, Alex Lewis, Chuma Edoga, and Kelvin Beachum, the Jets have a solid offensive line before the draft, where I plan to try to add two more linemen. This eases pressure, however, and makes offensive line less prioritized.

EDIT: Kelvin Beachum resigning becomes unnecessary, but in this case, I worked it into the team as depth.

Overview:

This would be a great free agency for the Jets. They would add two great offensive linemen and three low risk/high reward players. All of these moves lead up to the big event… the Draft.

How can the New York Giants upgrade their secondary?

New York Jets, Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

The New York Giants pass defense was well documented as being one of the worst in the league last season.  The Giants secondary gave up more than 4,200 passing yards on the season (28th overall) and 7.1 yards per pass attempt (29th overall).  New York must upgrade their pass defense, but according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, those upgrades will not come from spending big in the cornerback market in free agency.

How will the New York Giants improve their pass defense?

Much of the headaches in the pass defense could be attributed to the lack of experience in the secondary.  Only three of the cornerbacks that saw impactful snap counts for the Giants defense last season had any playing time before last season.  Only one, Janoris Jenkins, started more than ten games heading into 2019. 

Many believe that the New York Giants may look at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft to help upgrade the cornerback position, but is adding more inexperience a good move?  Maybe. Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah seems to have the talent. However, adding a veteran presence to replace Janoris Jenkins looks to be the better move for New York.

If the rumors are true and the Giants won’t spend big on the cornerback market in free agency, who does that leave?  It most certainly rules out Byron Jones, assuming he doesn’t get an extension from Dallas. Jones will be one of the most highly sought free agents on the market and will likely get paid as such.  

Chris Harris, Jr., Logan Ryan, Bradley Roby, and Jimmy Smith are all free agents that made at or above $10 million per year on average.  However, is $10 million the bar for the Giants? Also, was their performance or age going to impact their number? I wouldn’t rule these names out like I would with Jones, but they may be just outside where New York is willing to go for the position.

So, who could the Giants target in free agency?

Former first-round selection for the Minnesota Vikings, Trae Waynes found himself not having an excellent coverage year in 2019.  His speed is his top trait, and he consistently has been good as a run defender. Unfortunately, his coverage ability has not been as consistent.  He shows flashes, but in the last four seasons has given up 16 touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is another intriguing name for New York to keep an eye on.  He’s a solid cornerback, particularly in the slot, but has not been the most durable. With only one full season in the last six, health should undoubtedly be a concern for the Giants.  

I am sure the Giants would love to take Byron Jones away from a divisional rival and excel.  However, if the cost is an issue, there may be another option. Enter former Eagle Ronald Darby. Darby had an extremely forgetful 2019 season, posting an abysmal 45.9 grade with PFF.  He has battled injuries throughout his career and was put on injured reserve in December for a hip injury. Before 2019, Darby had been a very reliable starter, when healthy. Could he return to that form?

What is the Giants answer at improving the pass defense?

All of these options are risky.  Spend less money on inconsistent talent or durability concerns.  This has been the gamble that has hurt the New York Giants in other recent free agency moves.  The best way to help an inexperienced pass defense is to upgrade the pass rush. It’s been the story for the Giants all along, and that will not change.  

Yannick Ngakoue, Shaquil Barrett, and Kyle Van Noy could all be and should be considerations for the Giants.  The Chase Young dream is unlikely. Isaiah Simmons is versatile and talented, but will that translate to a consistent threat in disrupting the quarterback?  Trading back and somehow taking a K’Lavon Chaisson, AJ Epenesa, or any of the other next tier rookie edge defenders is an option. Whatever the case, if the Giants want to improve the pass defense without spending big in free agency, the best way to do that is to spend big in getting to the quarterback.