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Jets offseason preview: Hiring new coach, using up massive cap space on the docket

The Jets are expected to have in excess of $100 million available to spend on upgrading the roster for next season.

Sam Darnold finished his rookie season strong for

Sam Darnold finished his rookie season strong for the Jets, offering hope for the future. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

The Todd Bowles era is over, leaving the New York Jets once again in position to start from scratch.

This time, at least, they'll be building around a young quarterback in Sam Darnold, who impressed over the final month after returning from a foot injury,  and showed enough as a rookie starter to offer hope for the moribund franchise. With Darnold anchoring the offense and an elite, vocal defensive leader in safety Jamal Adams, key pieces are in place.

Still, the Jets finished 4-12 in 2018 for many reasons that must be addressed between now and Week 1. Here's a look at the team's three most pressing needs this offseason in advance of the March 13 start of the new league year.

Hunt for head coach

The first order of business will be to replace Bowles, whose four-year tenure ended promptly Sunday with a third consecutive losing season. General manager Mike Maccagnan will be competing against seven other franchises also looking to fill vacancies, and it's too early to say who will land in the metropolitan area.

It stands to reason that the next Jets coach will be offensive-minded, with the goal of developing Darnold into an elite field general. One of the prime names on the market is former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, who has a Super Bowl victory under his belt and worked swimmingly with Aaron Rodgers for many years. It's entirely possible the team could pursue a young offensive guru, aiming to match the recent success of such hires as Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) and Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears), instead of a recycled former head coach. 

Spend for Sam

Without the proper support on offense, Darnold is doomed to fail. The Jets cannot allow that to happen, so a full revamp of the offense would be wise. Fortunately, they figure to have more than $100 million in cap space to work with this spring in an effort to upgrade.

More talent along the offensive line is a must, and nobody currently on the roster should feel like a surefire 2019 starter. Whether through the draft or via free agency, expect new faces.

Although a few complementary skill position players are in place, the time has come to bring in a bona fide elite running back or receiver.  The Pittsburgh Steelers might be looking to move one or both of running back Le'Veon Bell and wideout Antonio Brown. Adding either would make Darnold's life easier, while potentially opening more opportunities for complementary receivers Quincy Enunwa and restricted free agent Robby Anderson.

More pressure

The Jets defense wasn't bereft of talent in 2018. Both their defensive front and the interior linebackers were solid, and the defensive backfield was among the better collectives in the league. But standouts such as cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker Avery Williamson are unrestricted free agents, as are a bevy of other regular contributors, and some will inevitably move on.

More than anything, though, the Jets must acquire at least one high-level edge rusher. The lack of such a player held back this unit from making up for the offense's lack of talent. Don't be surprised if the Jets use their No. 3 overall pick to address this need, and the free agent market for edge rushers works in the team's favor.

Key 2019 free agents

Unrestricted: Henry Anderson, DL; James Carpenter, G; Morris Claiborne, CB; Brandon Copeland, OLB; Jonotthan Harrison, C; Jermaine Kearse, WR; Josh McCown, QB;  Steve McLendon, DL; Jason Myers, K; Bilal Powell, RB; Darryl Roberts, S; Buster Skrine, CB; Avery Williamson, ILB

Restricted: Robby Anderson, WR

Exclusive rights: Frankie Luvu, OLB


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