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Jets offseason lays groundwork for future with Sam Darnold at quarterback

The No. 3 overall pick in April is the most important newcomer as the team begins training camp this week.

Sam Darnold is the heir apparent at quarterback

Sam Darnold is the heir apparent at quarterback but may not start immediately. Photo Credit: David L. Pokress

A 5-11 record may not sound impressive, but that win-loss mark bested many expectations for the New York Jets in 2017.

Although they enter training camp this week without outside expectations of a playoff push, the upcoming season is poised to be another step in the right direction after some under-the-radar upgrades — and a major addition with the future in mind. Read on for what’s different for Gang Green as they report to training camp at their Florham Park, New Jersey headquarters.

Franchise player

The future of the Jets is in Sam Darnold’s hands. The No. 3 overall pick in April will look to succeed where Mark Sanchez failed as a highly-drafted quarterback selected by the team out of USC.

Darnold won’t be asked to start immediately if he’s not ready. Josh McCown returns on another one-year deal with the Jets after a surprisingly strong 2017. Former Minnesota Vikings first-rounder Teddy Bridgewater, a new addition, could be in the mix as well if neither McCown nor Darnold merits the Week 1 start.

New weapons

Regardless of who starts under center, a few offseason acquisitions could make noise on offense. Isaiah Crowell, one of the few bright spots on some bad Cleveland Browns teams of late, will now share carries with Jets stalwart Bilal Powell at running back. Crowell replaces retired Matt Forte as Powell’s counterpart.

Terrelle Pryor joins the wide receiver group looking to rebound after a disappointing one-year stint for the Washington Redskins. The only noteworthy departure among pass-catchers is tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Defensive upgrades

After ridding themselves of defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who underperformed for two seasons after signing a big-money deal with the Jets, several under-the-radar acquisitions can go a long way toward rebuilding the defense.

Henry Anderson came over in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts and should be better than Wilkerson had been of late, if his solid 2017 is an indicator. Avery Williamson, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, was rated Pro Football Focus’ 10th-best linebacker last year and becomes a critical part of the front seven. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson figures to be an improvement for the secondary, as well.

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