With an influx of 2022 salary cap space, the New York Jets are going to be linked and connected to just about every free agent, draft pick, and trade target that becomes available this offseason.
It is the nature of the beast when you’re overflowing with cap space, draft capital, and a desire to be aggressive.
While the green and white will likely make plenty of splashes and headline-grabbing moves, it’ll be the ones that go under the radar that’ll truly make the difference.
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A Familiar Connection From the Past
ESPN NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler recently documented 20 under-the-radar trade candidates in the NFL that could be sneaky guys to watch this offseason.
One player he listed should be a very interesting name for Jets fans to watch and that was San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
“The 49ers paid their top linebacker, Fred Warner, $95 million over five years. Allocating resources for a second linebacker is a tough ask. Greenlaw, a 2023 free agent, has played well enough to attract some teams willing to give up a mid-to-late-round pick and extend him,” Fowler wrote.
The 24-year-old (will be 25 by the start of the 2022 season) is a classic case of wrong place, wrong time. San Francisco just shelled out a lot of moolah to Warner and they have plenty of other people to pay, which could create the perfect scenario for Greenlaw to shake free.
The former Arkansas product originally entered the league as the No. 148 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft.
In his three seasons in the pros, it didn’t take long for the talented linebacker to overcome his humble draft beginnings and become a key cog in this 49ers defense, racking up over 199 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions.
Greenlaw has played in 32 games and has started in 24 of those contests.
A Puzzle Piece Fit for Gang Green
This would be a perfect marriage between head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas.
Saleh has familiarity with the player from their time in San Francisco where they overlapped for two seasons (2019-20). He was the defensive coordinator from 2017 through 2020 and prior to that specialized in his work with the linebacker position.
This is the kind of trade that Douglas has executed a thousand times.
The Jets would land a super talented player at a ridiculous value. Fowler mentioned in his report that it would take a “mid-to-late-round pick” to swipe him from the 49ers.
One of the reasons the price would be so low is because Greenlaw is entering the final year of his rookie contract for $2.6 million.
This would be a calculated risk for the Jets. They could take on a player they have intimate knowledge on thanks to Saleh’s prior working relationship. Plus it would fill an obvious need on the team.
If Greenlaw plays out of his mind in the Jets’ system in 2022, then they’ll re-sign him next offseason to be their star of the future. If it doesn’t work out then you simply move on and let him walk in free agency.
While everyone will be looking for the Jets to swing for the fences on a blockbuster trade, it seems much more likely they would take a swing like this.
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