It’s Monday and that means yet another edition of our Heavy on Jets mailbag column where our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller tackle the hottest NYJ questions of the week.
Training camp kicks off tomorrow and this week’s discussion will hit on what to expect from the 2022 rookie class, an alternate helmet reveal, offseason transformations, the latest on George Fant’s contract situation, and some 2021 roster makes that will turn into cuts this time around. Here’s a look back at our most recent mailbags:
- Week 48: Potential preseason extensions & trades, 2022 mentality.
- Week 49: Predicting 2022 starters that could be gone next year, first Pro Bowls & training camp standouts.
- Week 50: Strongest & weakest positional groups, moving on from recent draft picks & Zach Wilson’s cougar drama.
- Week 51: Multi-year contracts still on the market & most challenging positional cuts.
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Training Camp Is HERE!
1. Training camp welcomes all players this week, but which rookie do you expect to dazzle fans this summer and which do you hope does?
Cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, for sure. He will be featured in exciting matchups every time he lines up whether that’s against a fellow rookie, Elijah Moore, or even Corey Davis. That will be must-watch action during training camp.
It is cliche, but iron sharpens iron, and these two groups should make each other better. Sauce will provide plenty of sauce for fans!
Who I expect and hope it will be is essentially the same, although I’ll throw in wide receiver Garrett Wilson as another one that I hope shows some pop and wow moments during camp.
I’ve been dying for a legitimate pass-rusher on this Jets defense for a long time and I was a big-time Jermaine Johnson II homer on Twitter throughout the entire draft process, so I have to go with “J.J.” when it comes to the second half of that question. I HOPE Johnson is the next great edge rusher that I believed he was during the scouting phase of the spring.
Having said that, defensive ends don’t always have an immediate NFL impact — and we’re talking about training camp — so I’ll go a different direction on the EXPECT portion of this ask. Sure, it could be Gardner but I feel like the can’t-miss prospect of this group is running back Breece Hall.
First off, the RB position tends to be the easiest transition into the pros, and Hall was the top ball carrier in this draft class. The Jets system is tailored to his game and he’ll start to flash once those pads come on.
2. Give me one offensive player and one defensive player who made the roster last year that you expect to get cut (or traded) this year.
Interesting question; I’ll say Tevin Coleman is a guy who gets dumped on the side of the road. He is the perfect system and veteran guy that is good in the locker room and actually showed a lot more pop than I thought he had left last year, but it is a numbers game. You are going to keep Breece Hall and Michael Carter (duh), and then I think they keep it young with Zonovan Knight and Ty Johnson.
On the defensive side of the ball, I’ll say Isaiah Dunn. He was among the highest-paid UDFAs last year and the Jets loved him. He got some playing time and had his fair share of ups versus downs. However, once again a numbers game forces him out. Maybe they keep him on the practice squad, but another NFL team could certainly scoop him up.
I believe the offensive portion of this answer will occur via trade, and the two most likely candidates are backup quarterback Mike White and wide receiver Denzel Mims. A couple of weeks ago I might have gone with White but there’s way more chatter around the former second-round pick.
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes said he “find[s] it hard to foresee a situation where Denzel Mims is on this team Week 1” on the “Can’t Wait” podcast this week. Even a positive training camp could lead to a trade, per Hughes, as the Jets attempt to recoup as much draft capital as possible here. Remember, Mims was drafted for Adam Gase’s system, not Mike LaFleur’s.
On the defensive side, I have to admit that my first thought was also Dunn, a former priority UDFA, but I’ll switch it up for the readers and offer two alternatives. One is veteran special teams captain Justin Hardee. After signing Craig James this week — who is similar, but cheaper — the front office fired a warning shot at the underperforming ST ace.
The second is Tim Ward. I’m not sure if this technically counts since the former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end was a waiver claim, but it’s hard to see Ward sticking around considering the edge rusher position is overflowing with talent and experience.
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Summer Buzz Around Florham Park
3. Offensive tackle George Fant has been vocal about wanting an extension. Considering the uneasiness at the position, why do you feel he has not received one after his stout 2021 campaign?
A variety of factors; age (just turned 30 years old), the question of LT versus RT (affects the money in those conversations), and what is going to happen next?
It’s the same question in a different way for defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. If the Jets wait one more year on both and they thrive, the Jets will have to pay a much larger sum of money. However, they would also have comfort in both situations knowing that they have confidence in what they’re paying for.
I think the Jets are weighing whether or not they should be proactive or not.
That’s a good way to put it — whether or not to be proactive or reactive. I think a lot of this ties back to Mekhi Becton and a knee surgery that’s flown way under the radar.
No, not Becton’s — that definitely didn’t fly under the radar — but Fant’s. It’s easy to overlook his late-season injury that led to an operation and while the veteran appears to be okay, he has not taken the field since.
Couple that with the fact that Becton hasn’t taken the field and you get that uncertainty in the question — but with even more layers. I feel the Jets don’t want to pay Fant the left tackle money he feels he deserves until they’re sure about Becton. Remember, Max Mitchell could project as the long-term starter at right tackle if the first-round talent retakes the blindside.
Unfortunately, all of that equals a lot of dried-up pens and blank pieces of paper.
4. We saw some major gains in Jets land the past couple of weeks between Braxton Berrios, Elijah Moore, and Jordan Whitehead, and each player had the photo/video to prove it. Whose offseason “transformation” was the most impressive?
I knew Braxton Berrios was ripped and it’s awesome to hear that Elijah Moore has put on some weight — that should help him stay healthy.
However, I’m a prisoner of the moment with the newest addition in Jordan Whitehead. I knew he was in good shape — most football players are — but my man is looking swole as all heck. Holy crap! What a physique… I’m jealous!
Yeah, this is an easy answer. While Moore’s new weight is the most encouraging, the most impressive reveal of “Gains SZN” is easily our new strong safety.
I mean, Whitehead looks like freaking Arnold Schwarzenegger in the photo above and that’s going to hype up any Jets fan ahead of the season. Can’t wait to see this guy absolutely obliterate a division rival in 2022.
5. The Jets dropped a stealth black alternate helmet this week, what did you think of it?
As soon as Woody Johnson tweeted out the tease, I lost my marbles thinking we were getting the return of throwback uniforms. Then we got a brand new different-colored helmet. The two things can be both true.
It’ll be awesome to see this full black look three times this season and I hope that the throwback uniforms will eventually come down the pike.
I think the black and green color scheme with the matte finish is cool but I hate the logo. It looks like a dollar-store decal or even worse — the free decal you get from a new startup when you order something on Amazon.
Nothing against those companies, but the Jets are a freaking New York City football franchise. Get. It. Together.
We’re seriously putting stickers on our helmets? Is it a scratch-and-sniff too?! Not to mention it’s the newer logo that everyone hates. This was a total letdown from ownership — big surprise.