This is the Jets’ time to pounce.
Tom Brady is on his way out of the AFC East after announcing Tuesday morning that he will not be returning to the Patriots following 20 years of divisional and conference domination.
It appears, at least for now, that the Patriots’ stronghold on the Jets’ division is coming to a close. They won 17 AFC East crowns in the last 19 years with most of that success coming at the expense of the Jets.
Brady won 29 of 36 meetings against Gang Green, who finished second in the division seven times during that 19-year run of dominance.
Even with an 11th-straight AFC East title in 2019, there were noticeable chinks in the Patriots’ armor — especially on the offensive side. Brady was devoid of legitimate outside targets while the absence of the recently-retired Rob Gronkowski was especially felt.
A top defense wasn’t enough to carry New England to a seventh Super Bowl championship and that trend will only continue if major upgrades aren’t acquired.
So as of Tuesday morning, the AFC East is wide open and other teams around the division are making the necessary moves to mount a challenge in 2020.
The Buffalo Bills — who clinched their second playoff appearance since 2000 last year — made one of the biggest moves on Monday by acquiring star wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings.
The Miami Dolphins were the most active by revamping their defense. In one day, they added Bryon Jones to bolster the secondary while Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy, and Emmanuel Ogbah were brought on to spark the front seven. They also nabbed former Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers, who showed signs of improvement with the Washington Redskins.
Meanwhile, the Jets and GM Joe Douglas have been largely silent.
They have yet to legitimately address their offensive line woes. Monday saw them miss out on top target Jack Conklin and sign George Fant, who has plenty to prove after an injury-riddled stint with the Seattle Seahawks that hasn’t seen him start more than 10 games in a season.
Slotting Fant in at left tackle still leaves the team with holes at the guard and center spots. Both could be addressed at the draft if the market for linemen dries up.
Outside targets for Sam Darnold are also at a premium after Monday.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper is returning to the Dallas Cowboys on a $100 million deal while Randall Cobb joined the Houston Texans. Elsewhere, the Cincinnati Bengals franchise-tagged AJ Green.
That leaves the Jets with the option of bringing back Robby Anderson, which won’t be an easy feat considering he’ll be looking for No. 1 wide-receiver money when he hasn’t been that.
Sam Darnold needs more weapons, Le’Veon Bell needs more space, and the Jets need more of a punch. This is their chance to make a splash and state their intentions as contenders in a division that is open for the first time this millennium.
A swing-and-a-miss during free agency is the last thing they need.