Experts Evaluate Jets’ Impending Free Agents, Zach Wilson & CB Situation

Braxton Berrios

Getty New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios celebrates a touchdown on December 19, 2021.

It’s another losing Monday for the New York Jets who gave one away in the second half down in Miami, falling 31-24.

Robert Saleh’s team is now 0-5 against AFC East rivals in 2021, and you never want to go winless against your division in football. The final matchup will be against the Buffalo Bills in Week 18 and they’re battling for a playoff spot, so that doesn’t bode well for the Jets.

As we always do every Monday, our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller will dive into all the hot-topic questions that are at the forefront of this fanbase right now. Today, the focus will be on impending free agents, Brandin Echols’ breakout performance, a Zach Wilson health check, and the upcoming face-off with Trevor Lawrence.

Before we get rolling, a look back at some of our most recent Heavy on Jets roundtable discussions.

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Grading 2 Key Pieces in Week 15

1. Weekly check-up on Zach Wilson. How would you grade the rookie quarterback after another outing with mixed results?

Boy Green: 

I get the overall numbers aren’t great, but this was exactly what I needed to see. After missing all kinds of layup throws last week, Wilson hit on every one during that opening drive and even sprinkled in some extra sauce to show that spectacular play that he is capable of. That was the best opening drive by the Jets this season and Wilson was sharp as hell.

Also was that Michael Vick or the Jets QB on that crazy third down where he broke a million tackles and got the first — that was special. He didn’t throw a pick but did fumble the ball because he held it too long.

The second half was gross but he wasn’t exactly helped out by terrible offensive line play and his receivers consistently creating no separation, which made life difficult. I’d give it a solid B-, he ran the offense and that is what we wanted to see!


So as we know, another incomplete outing from Wilson and the offense. It’s either been good first half and a bad second like in Miami or vice versa. As much as some fans want me to sit here and criticize the quarterback, I just don’t see him as the major issue when I watch these games.

For example, I’m looking at those coverage sacks from the pocket as a positive for the rookie. Sam Darnold (and early-season Wilson) would have forced an interception. These backup wide receivers have gotten zero space against man coverage. Imagine having three seconds to throw the ball and your weapons need six to get open, maybe more. It’s an impossible task.

My one critique is that Wilson may be listening to his coaches — and even the media/fans — too much. I don’t want to see him become captain check-down because that’s not what he was drafted to be. For that reason, his top outing was still against Tennessee, where he displayed the best parts of himself.

To those anti-Wilson fans out there, you’re right, he’s not Mike White — he’s much much better. I would never want him to be White because that would be limiting his potential. I give him a B in Week 15, he showed he can win and with a stronger unit around him, he would have.

2. Brandin Echols had somewhat of a breakout game at cornerback (INT for a touchdown, near-INT on deep shot earlier), do you see him as a long-term starting option across from Bryce Hall? 

Boy Green:

No, I don’t. I hate to be a Debbie-downer of sorts but I think he will be more so a rotational cog to the machine.

They need a true No. 1 cornerback and Hall is good, but he is probably better suited as a No. 2. Michael Carter II will be your slot cornerback of the future, so you’re still missing one piece to the puzzle.

I will give massive credit to general manager Joe Douglas for taking a dart throw on day three of the 2021 NFL draft and getting this kind of production out of Echols, that is insane.


Around Thanksgiving, I wrote that the next few weeks would determine the Jets’ future at cornerback. That was just after Echols hit the injured reserve and my theory was, we’d figure out two things from that.

  • If we have anything in Javelin Guidry, Isaiah Dunn or Jason Pinnock (one).
  • How much this defense misses Echols (two).

Aside from Guidry’s performance against Houston, this unit missed the rookie out of Kentucky badly during his absence. Dunn and Pinnock are not NFL cornerbacks right now and Guidry is better-suited against smaller/faster weapons.

So, getting back to the original question, I think Echols has secured his place on this roster like my partner alluded but at this very moment, I agree that we can still find a more consistent starter. I’m not counting him out and at the very least, he’s a trustworthy replacement when the inevitable injury occurs but I’m still targeting a top CB in free agency or the draft.

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Keep Em, Let Em Walk

3. With an eye towards 2022, highlight a Jets impending free agent that impressed you in Week 15 and explain why Joe Douglas should re-sign them.

Boy Green:

I will actually do the opposite if that makes sense. Foley Fatukasi didn’t play in this game due to his placement on the reserve/COVID list but his absence was felt with the Jets run defense getting absolutely annihilated.

Gang Green has a tough decision to make, do they continue to pile assets into the defensive line, or do they spread them to the rest of the team? Quinnen Williams is set for a massive extension, they just paid Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers, and they’re going after EDGE rushers this offseason.

Foley doesn’t bring you the wow stats but he is a poor man’s Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and can clog rushing lanes. Joe Douglas has a tough decision to make here.


I think the obvious answer is Braxton Berrios. Every week, this kid outplays a former second-round pick in Denzel Mims and a teammate making almost $5.5 million in Keelan Cole despite his small stature and physical shortcomings.

Not only has Berrios been the most reliable offensive weapon since Corey Davis and Elijah Moore went down, but he’s also been killing it on special teams too! The return-man was fighting to make his first-ever Pro Bowl and unfortunately, he lost out to ex-Jet Andre Roberts.

Honorable mention goes to safety Elijah Riley. His injury was a scary one and I really hope he’s okay but it also proved just how important he’s been. After Riley left the game, the defense collapsed in many areas. The waiver claim is only making $780,000 in 2021 and needs a new contract.

Both Berrios and Riley represent cheap, versatile re-signings that would do a lot to fortify the depth of this roster as you build around them.

4. Piggybacking off that, highlight a Jets impending free agent that disappointed you in Week 15. Should Douglas consider upgrading on this roster spot?

Boy Green:

I have to go with offensive tackle Conor McDermott. With George Fant and Mekhi Becton on the shelf, this was his time to shine and he dropped on the deck and flopped like a fish.

After initially doing okay, this team fell apart in the second half and Wilson had no time to operate. McDermott’s struggles really highlight how well Fant has played this season and how much the team misses Becton.

You can never have enough good offensive linemen and we now know that McDermott stinks.


Mine will really piggyback off question three because I’m going with the aforementioned Cole.

I’ve actually written about how the Jets should consider extending the auxiliary wide receiver in the past and man am I regretting that now. One thing has been obvious since Davis and Moore got hurt, these other weapons aren’t any good!

At the very least, they don’t fit the system in Mims’ case but Jamison Crowder — another guy I would not re-sign — and Cole routinely drop catchable balls too. It’s the most frustrating thing when you watch a rookie QB deliver a strike for a first down and these guys let the ball go right through their hands.

Then besides the drops, they can’t beat man coverage the rest of the game! These last few outings have been eye-opening at wide receiver and the work is not even close to finished for Douglas in this area. I’d keep Moore, Davis, Berrios — the other spots are up for grabs.

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Wilson vs. Lawrence

5. Dream scenario, what are you hoping to see happen when Wilson and Trevor Lawrence face-off for the first time in Week 16?

Boy Green:

I would love the defense to play well obviously but come on, how could you not want an epic shootout between the No. 1 and the No. 2 pick?

Maybe it’s because I’m coming off of the Jets, Dolphins game but I’d love a classic Dan Marino versus Ken O’Brien duel where they each throw for 400+ yards and trade scores throughout the entire game. Like an old western where whoever has the ball last ends up winning the game.

Although in fairness, T-Law has been epically terrible as of late and Wilson hasn’t exactly lit it up himself, but a man can dream, can’t he?


Realistically, the only thing that matters about this game is the NFL draft position. The Jacksonville Jaguars currently hold the number one pick yet again and the Jets are still fourth. With an NYJ loss, the order could flip depending on what happens with Houston and Detroit.

As we know though, perception is often reality and because of that, this game means everything. The NFL media created a narrative last season voicing that Lawrence should stay in school if the Jets get the number one pick. They did not have similar concerns for Jacksonville.

This was total BS when you consider the history of both franchises and we New Yorkers didn’t forget. I don’t care about the draft position at this moment, I want to win in Week 16 and quite frankly, I hope it’s a blowout.

I want there to be no doubt, Wilson and the Jets are better than Lawrence and the Jags.


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