The New York Jets were proactive in rewarding one of their own early in the 2021 season.
Back in 2020 Gang Green general manager, Joe Douglas took a flier on a relatively unknown defensive lineman in John Franklin-Myers.
After some occasional pops, he entered the 2021 season with a lot of hype and JFM turned it into a reality. Injuries ravaged the defensive line and opened up a perfect opportunity, but it was up to Franklin-Myers to seize the moment and he did.
Ahead of the Jets’ Week 5 road trip to London to play the Atlanta Falcons, DJ Bien-Aime broke the news that they signed JFM to a four-year extension for $55 million.
Now the natural next question at the top of the mind is who will be next?
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Several Jets Candidates Are Worthy of an Extension
Here is a list of all the prominent members of the Jets who are set to be unrestricted free agents this spring:
- Jamison Crowder, wide receiver
- Keelan Cole, wide receiver
- Braxton Berrios, wide receiver (first-time free agent)
- Tyler Kroft, tight end
- Morgan Moses, offensive tackle
- Tevin Coleman, running back
- Marcus Maye, safety
- Foley Fatukasi, defensive lineman (first-time free agent)
- Jarrad Davis, linebacker
- Nathan Shepherd, defensive lineman
Fortunately, there aren’t any massive contracts on the horizon heading into 2022 (outside of Quinnen Williams who will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason).
Although there are several players who are worthy of sticking around.
On the Flight Deck podcast hosted by Rich Cimini of ESPN, he answered a question in his mailbag about which Jets player will be paid next?
“We know this about Joe Douglas, he likes to reward young ascending players who are on their first contracts. The two guys that fit that description are Foley Fatukasi and Braxton Berrios. I would keep an eye on Fatukasi because he plays a lot, he’s a leader, and he might be one of the better leaders on the team. I think they really like his character. We know the Jets like to pour money into the trenches. So Foley to me is the next guy to watch.”
Why It Would Make Sense to Invest in the Trenches
Some people may be getting flashbacks to the mid-2010s when the Jets were in a very similar position.
They were overflowing with talent on the defensive line: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, and Leonard Williams.
Should they pay them all? Perhaps divvying up the funds of the team across several different positional groups was the right choice?
The Jets ended up trading away Richardson, let Harrison go in free agency, and traded away Williams. They paid Wilkerson, but that was an unmitigated disaster.
Now they have a second chance with the same first-world problem.
The Jets already extended JFM, they paid a king’s ransom for Carl Lawson, and now several other players are about to be due.
While some may hesitate with the decision to potentially invest that much money into a single positional group, this time feels different.
Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh’s 4-3 scheme is predicated on creating pressure upfront. So this group is more important than ever before.
On top of that, Fatukasi has proven to be a dependable leader. He may not have been the one we thought was going to step up to the plate, but Foley is definitely the one the Jets needed.
He spent several seasons with veteran Steve McLendon before he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. That veteran savvy, leadership, and how to be a pro bled into Foley and that energy has been infectious to his teammates.
If all that wasn’t enough, Foley is a homegrown guy. He was originally taken with the No. 180 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft out of UConn.
Over the last few years, there haven’t been any players worth reinvesting in because of the team’s terrible drafting, but now they finally have someone worth every single penny his contract will be.
This is an opportunity to make a statement not only to the locker room but the entire NFL that the Jets will reward players that get the job done.
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