With the playoffs officially out of reach, NFL free agency just became that much more appealing for New York Jets fans.
The brain trust led by GM Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh is expected to ramp things into high gear next offseason as they attempt to turn this young team into a postseason contender.
That means spending more money and after the recent news from NFL insider Tom Pelissero projecting that the cap will rise to $208.2 million in 2022, the Jets will be well-positioned to do so. Next year, Gang Green currently ranks ninth in cap space according to Over the Cap with just under $50 million available.
Of course, that could change based on cuts and trades. The Jets have lowered their dead money total to $1.475 million in 2022, which is a massive drop — and relief — compared to this season.
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Scherff Could Be the Missing Piece on the O-Line
Pro Football Focus released their list of the top 75 free agents that are expected to hit the open market in 2022 and number 12 was linked to the Jets.
That would be four-time Pro Bowler and 2020 first-team All-Pro right guard, Brandon Scherff, who has spent his entire seven-season career with Washington. PFF wrote:
Scherff is one of the best all-around guards in football when healthy. He has graded out better the past several seasons in zone rushing schemes, where his ability on the move shines. He would be a nice addition to the Jets’ young, rebuilding offensive line opposite Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Washington has been holding onto Scherff for dear life, franchise tagging him two consecutive years heading into 2022. Technically, they could try and tag him one last time but they would have to pay the offensive lineman 144% of his previous salary.
Since Scherff made $18.036 million in 2021, that means WFT would have to pay him nearly $26 million to keep him again, being that the guard does not seem interested in signing a long-term extension. Quite frankly, it would be shocking if he doesn’t finally hit the open market this offseason.
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Reasons to Target Scherff
I’m not going to lie, I’ve had my eye on Scherff for a number of years as I’m sure many NFL fans have. Unfortunately, Washington wasted most of his prime but he’s still one of the top interior linemen in football at age 30.
Next season he’ll be 31, and that means he’ll be looking to cash out on one more long-term deal before he rounds out his career. PFF projects that he’d cost around “three years, $50 million ($16.67 million per year, $30 million total guaranteed).”
This move could carry some injury risk but the potential reward could outweigh that if Douglas can work some incentives in the deal.
PFF labeled Scherff’s greatest strengths as “reliable in pass protection” and “zone blocking” — the two areas the Jets need most from their right guard after suffering through Greg Van Roten and Brian Winters in recent seasons.
He not only fits the Mike LaFleur system but immediately makes this a top-15 unit with everyone healthy (Becton, AVT, Connor McGovern, Scherff, George Fant). If he chooses, Douglas could also upgrade on McGovern or Fant by taking the possible third-year “outs” in their contracts.
Just think how excited fans are to have Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the lineup blocking for Zach Wilson and this rushing attack and the veteran RG is average at best. It may not feel that way because of how atrocious ‘GVR’ was before him but trust me, ‘LDT’ is no All-Pro at this stage of his career and you could still attempt to bring him back for quality depth if he’s interested in staying put.
Implant Scherff as the starter and you could have the makings of a juggernaut unit that breaks into the top tier of the NFL. It all depends on the health of Becton and the others.
The Washington right guard only had one sub-75.0 campaign on PFF from 2015-20 in terms of his overall grade. This season, he’s only allowed 15 quarterback pressures with zero sacks charged on his record. He has a career run-blocking score of 75.14 with an incredibly low average of 1.57 sacks allowed per season.