Jets NFL Free Agency Primer: Latest on Rumors, Targets & Strategy

Marcus Williams

Getty New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams celebrates a stop on December 6, 2020.

We are just a few short hours away from NFL free agency and our New York Jets experts are raring to go for a special edition mailbag column.

As always, our writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller are answering the top NYJ questions and this week it’s everything free agency with all the latest on the final rumors and gossip.

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Free Agency Mentality

1. There have been conflicting reports on what Joe Douglas and the Jets might try and accomplish this week. Two-part question. Part one: Do you believe Douglas will spend BIG or conservatively, or somewhere in between with calculated moves?

Boy Green:

I will drink the Kool-Aid and maybe this comes back to bite me but I think they dive into the deep end of the pool. Although I won’t buy the rumors about going all-out at the CB spot.

I think they get aggressive on the offensive line where Douglas has cut his teeth throughout his career. I think the big target is Chicago Bears offensive lineman James Daniels. He will command crazy money on the open market but his versatility and the flexibility it would create ahead of the 2022 NFL draft would make this move worth it.

Obermuller:

As much as some might like them to “go nuts” and spend big, everything I’ve heard from the people closest to the organization (Jets reporters rather than NFL reporters and insiders) is that Douglas will not do so. He will spend, but they will be calculated signings that set New York up well for the future.

Basically, it will be similar two his first two offseasons on the job. If Douglas does shell out some extra dough, I believe it will be on an ascending talent that’s only entering his prime, not leaving it.

I agree with Boy Green that right guard will be a target but the main name to watch in this regard is safety Marcus Williams. The Jets have been attached to him since last fall and they’re still in on him now according to Connor Hughes, but they won’t overpay if the market demands it.

2. Part two: Based on your answer above, do you agree with this mentality? Or would you do things differently if you were appointed GM?

Boy Green:

I would be aggressive if I was running the shop, but strategically, which is what I believe Douglas will do. I could understand going hog-wild for a top corner, like what is being reported, but I just love Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner so much that I’d go that direction in the upcoming draft.

Interior offensive line, EDGE rusher, and maybe wide receiver if the right opportunity presents itself are all areas I would chase in free agency. You need a healthy balance of big spending and smart value adds to build a solid team.

Obermuller:

I believe in spending but not necessarily irresponsible spending. To explain, sometimes I’d rather bring in a short-term veteran that signs a contract you can get out of after a year if we have the money available and we’re plugging a hole with a high-culture player.

At the same time, I would shell out more for the right ascending talent. I mentioned Williams at safety but I would have been all-in on Chris Godwin if he was not franchise-tagged by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

An example of when to go veteran might be at cornerback — signing a Stephon Gilmore instead of a J.C. Jackson or Carlton Davis. I believe a mentor with no long-term commitments is the much smarter move at a position that tends to produce inconsistency in free agency.

I know this answer was all over the place but the bottom line is — I would go hard at certain ascending talents that fit your team-building approach, then use the rest of my cap to plug holes with guys that can lead the youth on short-term deals. 2023 is not guaranteed and this team must win more games this season.

3. If for some reason you could only target one free agent priority this week, who would it be and why?

Boy Green:

An impossible question to answer! I already talked about Daniels and his potential value, so I’ll go in a different direction.

This one may raise some eyebrows but I am in love with the player and I know him intimately from covering him up close and personal during his time at Syracuse and that is EDGE rusher, Chandler Jones.

I get it, he is older, but he is a proven player at a critical position of need. This wouldn’t solve your issues but he would be a major help and a mentor to the younger players on the roster. Arguably the most underrated pass rusher in the NFL, Jones would be a fantastic fit with the Jets.

Obermuller:

It’s kind of boring because I’ve talked about him already but my answer would definitely be Marcus Williams. In the post-franchise tag world, there aren’t too many guys I absolutely feel are worth every dollar you are spending but Williams is the main player that is.

He’s 25 years old, never misses football games, is quietly consistent on the field, comes from a winning culture, never gets in trouble outside of the game, and is as well-rounded as they come.

I have to admit, I would also be ecstatic if we landed Gilmore or Casey Hayward on a one or two-year deal. I think that would be a slam dunk at cornerback.

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The Positional Game Plan

4. It’s crunch time! Based on everything you’ve heard the past couple of weeks, what positions do you believe the Jets target this week and what position should be the biggest priority?

Boy Green:

I think they target interior offensive line, EDGE rusher, wide receiver, tight end, interior defensive line, and of course safety.

What should be the biggest priority? Probably the offensive line in general and specifically the right guard spot. If you can cover that hole with a legit option, that just frees up the possibilities in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft.

A close second to this is the safety spot where there are so many choices from the top of the market all the way down to value finds.

Obermuller:

I still believe the Jets focus on EDGE in the draft with Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers eating up a ton of cap space on the defensive line already. Otherwise, I agree with my partner for the most part with one or two exceptions.

  • Priorities: IOL/RG, IDL/DT, safety, tight end.
  • Potential smaller signings or scheme fits: WR, CB, LB, RB.

To explain, the major priorities are obvious to me but I took the wide receiver position out because I believe the Jets missed out on “their guys” already — whether due to the franchise tag or an odd situation like Calvin Ridley’s suspension. Supposedly, Douglas was ready to make a deal for Ridley, per Hughes.

I still think they sign a depth WR and maybe even a linebacker or cornerback (if they feel there’s a mutual fit). A tandem running back like Ronald Jones could also be in the cards, or how about a move for Cordarrelle Patterson? That would add your power back and give you another versatile playmaker in the passing game.

5. Piggybacking off No. 4, what position(s) do you feel the Jets should target in the NFL draft?

Boy Green:

I don’t know if this is a hot take, sort of addressed it earlier, but I think the Jets will address the cornerback spot within the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

They’ll either select Sauce Gardner inside the top-10 or grab one of the many players who slip to the early part of day two and there should be a bevy of names available.

This means they will not target the position in free agency with so many other needs. Cornerback is a need as well but I could totally see them pushing it to the draft, and it wouldn’t be a bad strategy.

Obermuller:

I don’t mind taking a defensive back in the first two rounds but I lean more round two. I think the Jets will draft their top EDGE prospect at No. 4, been saying that a long time. That could be Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker, Jermaine Johnson, or even Aidan Hutchinson by some miracle.

Based on the growing trend that the franchise will address right guard with a veteran — and keep Connor McGovern at center — they will no longer need O-line in the first round. This is where I have made a huge pivot.

Before, I thought you go EDGE/OL in the first round of the draft but after the franchise tag deadline, I think you go EDGE/WR with your two top picks. Douglas can still trade down if he wants but he’s got to find his number one receiver in the draft.

P.S. After missing out on Dalton Schultz I’m now all-in on TE Trey McBride in the second round.

Follow @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25 on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!


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