After a putrid 4-13 season, the New York Jets head into the offseason in desperate need of roster help on both sides of the ball — and fans can expect a turbulent period of free agent signing, new draft picks and roster cuts.
Luckily for Gang Green, the franchise will be picking 4th overall in the 2022 NFL draft on April 28, as well as the 10th overall pick that they acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, and they’ll likely use the picks to aid their development of last year’s number-two overall pick Zach Wilson.
The Jets in the draft
The team from MetLife Stadium is committed to Wilson at quarterback, and the Jets’ front office will need to surround the former-BYU passer with weapons if he’s to break the unfortunate trend of recent Jets quarterbacks that ultimately became disappointments to a despondent fan base.
General manager Joe Douglas, though, commented at the recently-finished NFL combine that the franchise could look towards the defense with their high draft picks, if a player stands out to their scouts — saying that an improved defense would alleviate the need for Wilson to heave desperation passes in come-from-behind attempts.
“One avenue to help the quarterback is the playmakers,” Douglas said. “There’s also the other way to help, which is defense — get him the ball back as often as we can.”
Some NFL experts have suggestested that the Jets could selected Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson with their first selection, who possesses all the necessary skills to succeed in the football trenches at 6’5” and 260 pounds.
Other possibilities with the number-4 pick include cornerback Ahmad Gardner of Cincinnati, who boasts great height for the position at 6’2”, as well as first-class speed to lockdown the NFL’s growing list of elite pass catchers.
Perhaps more favorable to Wilson, other insiders have speculated that New York could select offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State University, who, despite the Jets’ serviceable O-line, could add even more protection to the sophomore under center.
With their 10th overall pick, the Jets could look to plug whichever holes they fail to secure with their first selection, and bring in a second elite prospect to aid their young roster.
In a draft class that has much late-round talent in the skill positions, the Jets will likely also work to secure some pass catchers to help Wilson, from Ohio State alum Chris Olave and Jeremy Ruckert, to Isaiah Likely of Coastal Carolina and Wan’Dale Robinson of the University of Kentucky.
The Jets in free agency
The Jets have a number of free agents that could potentially leave the team if they don’t reach a new deal, as well as a number of other players whose cap hit is likely not worth the financial burden.
In addition to saying goodbye to a number of players, the Jets will likely look to free agency to find veteran players to solidify their budding roster.
One major position-of-need is a backup quarterback to Wilson, just as their neighboring New York Giants are looking to provide insurance to their young passer Daniel Jones.
Many of the same free agents exist as possibilities for Gang Green, including Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Andy Dalton — but the team could also resign former Baltimore Raven veteran Joe Flacco to continue aiding Wilson’s development.
More pressingly, the Jets will need to scour free agency for players to catch Wilson’s passes — and luckily for New York, there are a number of solid suitors.
Penn State alum Allen Robinson, formerly of the Chicago Bears, headlines a deep free agent wide receiver class, and could potentially add a much-need number-one option to the franchise.
The team can also look towards snagging a division rival’s skill player by adding Will Fuller, who hits the market after one season with the Miami Dolphins.
Other potential recruits include T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts, JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Emmanuel Sanders of the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets find themselves in an interesting situation, as, for just the second season in two decades, they no longer have to deal with the existence of Tom Brady in their division.
Unfortunately for Gang Green, Brady’s exit has co-existed with the emergence of Bills passer Josh Allen, who figures to be similarly dominating over his AFC East rivals. Nevertheless, the team appears to be sold on the potential of a Zach Wilson-driven future, and they have both the draft capital and the cap space to put their young gun in a position to succeed, so long as general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh fill out the roster with the necessary talent.