The New York Jets have remained active in the veteran free agency market after the NFL draft and three names keep coming up — offensive tackle Riley Reiff, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Each has visited with the organization in recent weeks and Reiff was even seen watching practice alongside general manager Joe Douglas and assistant GM Rex Hogan.
On June 15, we received an update straight from the mouth of head coach Robert Saleh, although his response was a bit diplomatic.
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Saleh: ‘Joe’s Working Through All of It’
During his press conference ahead of day two of Jets minicamp, Coach Saleh was asked about the recent veteran visits from the three players mentioned above.
“Joe’s working through all of it, the discussions are always there. That’d be a better question for Joe [Douglas] but I know he’s working on all of it,” he told reporters.
Connor Hughes of The Athletic then tweeted: “No update, but door not shut, on the veterans the Jets brought in for visits (Reiff, Alexander, Ogunjobi). Saleh says Joe Douglas is working through that.”
Sure, Saleh doesn’t reveal much but the key is — he didn’t answer no either. Perhaps the Jets are waiting for each veteran to make a decision on financials, or maybe they’re each playing the field and considering their options.
The trio is used to getting paid starter money throughout their respective careers, although Alexander did take a major pay cut to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints in 2021. Of the three, the linebacker should be the least expensive to acquire.
The other two are tricky to determine. Reiff has been a starter for 10 long years but he wouldn’t be that with the Jets. Like Morgan Moses did a season ago, the blocker would have to be willing to swallow his pride and sign on as a premium backup.
Moses was guaranteed $3.1 million for that role but came out of the one-year experience with $4.35 million and a new contract in Baltimore. According to Over the Cap, Reiff has never been guaranteed less than $5.5 million during his career and he’s never come away with less than $7 million flat in a season.
Then there’s Ogunjobi, who was offered $40.5 million ($26.35 million guaranteed) by the Chicago Bears before a failed physical wiped it all away in March. It’s unclear what Douglas and the Jets might be willing to pay the D-tackle but it’s probably nowhere close to that amount.
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Jets’ Roster Is Close
When you look at the Jets team on paper, this could be the most talented roster this fanbase has seen since the days of Rex Ryan and the back-to-back AFC championship games. It only took a decade-plus to do it, but this organization is really close and those around the NFL community can almost taste it.
That might be Douglas’ feeling too, as he attempts to secure a few more areas before training camp.
The funny thing about these three free-agent targets is that they all play different positions, and it’s no coincidence that they represent the three major areas of weakness that are left on the roster.
- Defensive tackle starter next to Quinnen Williams.
- Offensive tackle depth behind George Fant and Mekhi Becton.
- Linebacker depth behind C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams.
These aren’t necessarily first-team problems, outside of D-tackle (potentially) but Jets fans know better than to rely on health when playing the game of football.
Neither Fant nor Becton has ever played a full NFL season. The Jets’ third linebacker spot is totally up for grabs — even if they only start two about 65-70% of the time.
Defensive tackle could be the biggest issue of the three. The Jets have the opposite problem at this position, lots of depth but very few starters. Maybe the solution is moving John Franklin-Myers inside but the organization has made it clear that they’d prefer not to do that on every down.
If “JFM” starts at defensive end, who plays next to Williams on first down? Sheldon Rankins? Nathan Shepherd? Jonathan Marshall? Solomon Thomas? If you look into their track records, none of these players can be trusted against the run — and that’s still a big-time concern.
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