We’re kicking off another New York Jets mailbag Monday and as always, our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller have all the answers to the top NYJ-themed questions of the week.
Before we get started, here are some of our most recent roundtable discussions.
- Week 24: Evaluating Jets impending free agents, Wilson & Brandin Echols vs. Miami.
- Week 25: Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence reactions, mock draft targets.
- Week 26: Evaluating Wilson vs. Tom Brady, Denzel Mims future with Jets.
- Week 27: Season takeaways, first official end-of-year Jets mock.
- Week 28: 2021 free-agent blunders, dream trades & targets, Mekhi Becton future.
- Week 29: Answer at backup QB, Senior Bowl prospects & priority re-signings.
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Target or Avoid?
1. Give me one NFL free agent that you need to see on the Jets in 2022.
This one might be weird but I have had a fascination for the player for a long time and that is safety/linebacker Keanu Neal.
The former first-rounder was extremely close to joining the Jets last season but ultimately picked the Dallas Cowboys. He is exactly the kind of player Robert Saleh covets with a safety background but has all the traits to be a linebacker (which he switched to this past season).
He is only 26 and will turn 27 by the start of next season. Based on his speed, coverage ability, and versatility, he would be a phenomenal fit on this defense.
Anyone? Davante Adams, please. I’m only kidding and do not expect or even want the Jets to blow their entire cap on the superstar wide receiver but the thought is tantalizing, right?
More realistically, I’ll say New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams. The Jets have many needs and they’ll have to decide when to target each one. I think you take care of positions like safety and defensive line in free agency while others like linebacker or offensive line make more sense to me in the draft.
Williams isn’t a player that makes a ton of headlines. He’s a no-nonsense defensive back that does his job and does it well. The reliable safety just turned 25 and he’s only missed five games in his first five seasons. The Saints have the worst cap situation in football and after tagging Williams last season, it’ll be a challenge to keep him this time around.
2. Give me one NFL free agent that you want the Jets to avoid at all costs.
This is a name that Jets fans have seemingly been begging for but I don’t think it would be a prudent move and that’s Washington Football Team guard Brandon Scherff.
Don’t get me wrong, I think a right guard is a major need but I would avoid Scherff as the guy to fix it. He is older (30), has only played a full season twice (back in 2015, 2016), and is going to be wicked expensive.
For all of those reasons — Shark Tank style — I’m out on this player, and the Jets should be as well. No offense Gang Green nation, but he is overrated and the team would be better served going in a different direction.
You got me, definitely a fan that has campaigned for Scherff in the past but I do agree that addressing guard in the draft is the smarter move. Having said that, there are a lot of players I would avoid but I’ll try and stick to guys the Jets have been linked to.
One that makes no sense to me is Ryan Jensen, veteran center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Enough of the Connor McGovern hate people — he was a top-five performer for the Jets in 2021 if you really dive into the stats. Now, if you’re telling me you want to draft Tyler Linderbaum who you would have for the next 10-15 years, fine. Jensen is in his early 30s though and on top of having no long-term future with the franchise, he would only provide a mild upgrade short-term.
I also wanted to shout out a few other names that I’d be wary of: Bucs running back Leonard Fournette, Pittsburgh Steelers corner Joe Haden and New England Patriots corner J.C. Jackson. The first two would be too expensive for their age/position and the third makes me nervous. I’ve seen many Bill Belichick defenders cash out with other teams, only to fail outside his system. Jackson could be Malcolm Butler — or Trumaine Johnson from the Rams — all over again.
3. Switching it up, who’s the one draft prospect you want the Jets to steer clear of?
I gotta go with Derek Stingley Jr. here and if you would’ve told me I’d answer this question this way a few years ago I would’ve laughed.
The injuries scare me and whether fair or unfair, I get Dee Milliner vibes. The 2019 tape is ridiculous and that is awesome production but that was two years ago. That is too far of a reach for the Jets to gamble on those traits and take him this high.
Now, if he slips to the second round, then maybe I’d consider it, but in the top-10? That is just far too rich for me. I still think the Green & White need a No. 1 cornerback but they should fill that role in a different way.
The more I think it over, the more I agree on Stingley and I don’t think there’s any chance Joe Douglas and Coach Saleh target a defensive back that high in the draft anyway. It goes against their philosophy of building through the trenches.
In a similar light, you’d have to convince me that Kyle Hamilton can play NFL linebacker for me to endorse selecting him at No. 4. I won’t completely rule him out but safety is not where I’d look that high in the draft.
The player I’ll choose to avoid completely is Charles Cross and it’s nothing against him as a prospect. The pure pass protector was recently compared to D’Brickashaw Ferguson and he sounds like the perfect fit in an ulterior universe where Gang Green doesn’t have Becton and George Fant. The Jets need a versatile O-lineman that can shift inside at guard and Cross was built to play left tackle.
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Brady & Championship Weekend
4. How do you feel about Tom Brady’s potential retirement?
To be honest, I can’t believe that it is real. I know there have been conflicting reports on this, so perhaps I’ll believe it when Brady is crying at his retirement presser.
This is a man that has haunted me for over 20 years and it feels good to know the wicked witch of the west is finally gone. On top of being a digital reporter covering this team, I’m also the self-proclaimed biggest Jets fan on the planet.
He is no question the greatest of all time. It can’t be denied when you evaluate the accolades and everything else but I can’t lie, I’m over the moon that he is finally gone.
My immediate reaction was that it was anti-climatic. Like every Jets fan, I’ll be happy when Brady finally calls it quits but I never expected it to end after 2021.
I mean, the 44-year old just signed an extension last March after the Super Bowl win and he didn’t exactly lose a step this year playing at an MVP-type level — even if Aaron Rodgers wins it.
I must be out of my mind to even suggest this but a player of his status shouldn’t just walk off into the sunset after a playoff upset. Retirement tour 2022 feels more appropriate and at the end of the day, I think he’ll coax himself into playing one final season.
5. After watching the championship games, what is the number one thing the Jets are missing?
What a fun championship weekend that was. It harkens me back to when the Jets went to back-to-back AFC title games, which feels like a lifetime ago.
If they want to get there again, one thing they need is more playmakers. The Cincinnati Bengals are overflowing with them and look where it got them. They’re the model for the Jets to follow with them being at the Senior Bowl a few years ago, adding talent in the draft/free agency and then, of course, producing on the football field.
The Jets need to find their No. 1 wide receiver like Ja’Marr Chase. There doesn’t seem to be that type in the draft but check free agency and the trade market. That will have such a huge impact on the rest of the team. It is paramount to find that playmaker and it is the main thing they’re missing to get over the hump.
I agree with that selection from Boy Green but I’m going to hit on the other side of the ball and say a game-wrecker.
Quinnen Williams was supposed to become this when Mike Maccagnan drafted him and maybe he still can, but the Jets should continue adding on that defensive line until they find a force like Aaron Donald, Chris Jones or Nick Bosa. You may find that in the draft if Kayvon Thibodeaux falls to No. 4 like some have suggested.
You could also gain that with better health in 2022 — if Carl Lawson returns to full capacity. The Bengals’ game-wrecker this season was Trey Hendrickson, the man who replaced Lawson in Cincy.
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I love the Keanu Neal and Marcus Williams suggestions. I also agree with staying way from Stingley in the draft.
great minds think alike, thanks for reading!