Jets May Not Be ‘Major Players for the Top Free Agents’: Report

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on September 26, 2021.

It’s official, Joe Douglas has finally cleaned up the mess left for him by ex-GM Mike Maccagnan and while New York Jets fans are grateful for that, it now falls squarely on this regime to produce a winner.

There is an expression that the NFL waits for no man and it certainly won’t wait on the Jets. If this franchise wants a championship, they have to take it.

That doesn’t mean spending wildly in free agency like Maccagnan or other failed GMs, but it does mean fielding a competitive roster and supplying head coach Robert Saleh with the talent he needs to bring this team to the next level. The best organizations build through the draft — that’s still true — but then they supplement those youngsters with the right veterans.

Some might argue that the Jets aren’t ready to make that leap but if not now, when? If 2022 goes as poorly in the win column as 2021, who knows if this front office will get another offseason and whenever the GM changes hands in this league you’re generally starting over again.

The cap is practically clean, Zach Wilson is on a rookie contract, and you have loads of draft capital to work with. Buckle up Gang Green nation, we have reached the moment that Douglas finally attacks — right?

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New Report Acts as Wet Blanket Ahead of Free Agency

After news that Amari Cooper would be traded to the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round pick and a sixth-round swap on March 12, a contingent of the fanbase revolted on social media. This came after reports that the franchise isn’t all that interested in pursuing J.C. Jackson.

Maybe Douglas and Saleh are right in passing on both of these expensive commodities, maybe not. None of us truly know at this stage but the frustration stems from the trend.

The Jets’ mindset appears to be conservative, not aggressive, and a March 13 report from beat reporter Brian Costello (New York Post) only fans the flames on the eve of free-agent tampering.

“Several agents for high-profile free agents said they got the vibe from Douglas that the Jets would not be major players for the top free agents,” cautioned Costello. “That is not to say Douglas won’t take a swing or two at some of the top guys, but it seems unlikely he will come out of the gate on Monday handing out blank checks.”

The beat reporter added later on that while he does believe they’ll look to sign an extra interior offensive lineman, they could also pass on the No. 1 safety on the market. He wrote: “Top free agent Marcus Williams of the Saints may be too pricey for the Jets. They probably will look for more value.”

Costello reiterated that the Green & White are not expected to pursue Jackson at cornerback but could target Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter, Carlton Davis, or Atlanta Falcons rising talent Foyesade Oluokun at linebacker.

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Time to Sound the Alarm?

I don’t think it’s time to panic just yet — players like Davis and Oluokun are very solid and spreading money around rather than frontloading it into one or two superstars is never a bad idea, but it’s impossible to read this news and not get fidgety.

We’ve seen the Jets cheap out on option B or C many times in the past and the overall results have not generally followed — even if there were minor success stories here and there. Having said that, we’ve also seen Gang Green spend big and that hasn’t worked either.

Douglas and Saleh are attempting to master the middle ground — spend, but spend wisely and efficiently. It did not work in 2021 as the free-agent class crashed and burned with five major injuries and a few minor ones.

Will this front office have better luck this time around?

One thing is for certain, the Jets have major holes to fill. There is uncertainty at almost every defensive position, as well as interior offensive line, wide receiver and tight end on offense. This roster needs help and over the next few days, we’ll find out what that help looks like once and for all.

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