Experts Identify Jets’ 2021 Free-Agent Mistakes, Dream Trades & Targets

Za'Darius Smith

Getty Today's Monday morning mailbag column includes a surprise New York Jets trade target from the Green Bay Packers.

We are officially one week in without New York Jets football as the offseason is underway.

Don’t think that will stop our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller from answering all the hottest Jets questions though. From free agency to the draft and everything in between, we got you covered all winter and spring.

Before we begin, check out some of our recent Heavy on Jets roundtable discussions.

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Fortifying the Wall

1. Do you feel Mekhi Becton will be with the Jets in 2022? If so, what position will he play assuming health?

Boy Green:

Will he be back? I have no doubt in my mind that he will be on the roster. Financially he is tied to the Jets at a minimum through the 2022 season and if they wanted to get froggy after that they could.

Now the more interesting question is the second part of it, what position will he play? If you asked this a year ago, it is a resounding left tackle answer and I’d look at you funny for asking.

Now? It’s a legitimate conversation after a spectacular campaign from George Fant. I’ll lean that Becton is the starting left tackle but the fact that this is even a conversation goes to show what has transpired over the last calendar year.


This question has been posed to me by fans a lot over the past couple of weeks. Will Becton be traded? Will he get moved to right tackle or even guard?

I think the short answer is still no. Like Paul said, even trading him at this moment would be a challenge due to the guarantees of his rookie contract and let’s say you do figure out a way to get it done, what’s his value around the NFL right now? I don’t think you’re getting a first-rounder back for Becton after 2021 based on injury and motivation concerns.

If you’re getting anything less, I’d prefer to keep him and I’m confident Joe Douglas agrees with me. I don’t think it will be easy to switch his position either. Becton has shown a lot of stubbornness since joining this organization and I’m not sure he’d be on board with a move from left tackle.

Fant is much more of the faithful soldier and for now, that means the veteran is switching back to the right side and any rookie drafted is probably starting at guard.

2. Sticking with OL, should the Jets use another first-round pick on an offensive lineman in 2022?

Boy Green:

Should they? It completely depends on how the board falls, but I’ll say this, I’m completely open to it.

Look at what the Dallas Cowboys did a bunch of years ago with Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. They built a great wall of China and all of their success on offense thrived off of their elite trench play.

Alabama’s Evan Neal to me would be an absolutely electric fit at No. 4 overall. He would provide you LT insurance if Becton can’t stay healthy or you can start Neal’s career at right guard and when the time comes you can kick him out to LT/RT. Douglas is a former offensive lineman, he knows how important it is.


I can support a plan to draft one more offensive lineman in the first round but I can’t get behind a plan to draft two OLs with both 2022 firsts. That’s overkill in my opinion, especially when this blocking unit finished 11th in the NFL according to PFF.

If you want to draft Tyler Linderbaum at No. 10 or better yet, trade down and try to snag him later on if he drops, I’m okay with that. If you want to draft Neal or Ikem Ekwonu at No. 4 as a versatile guard/tackle flex like Alijah Vera-Tucker, I’m okay with that. I can’t do both.

The defense needs one of these two picks desperately and the two positions I’m looking at are edge rusher and linebacker. If you draft an edge, John Franklin-Myers slides inside as Foley Fatukasi or Nathan Shepherd’s replacement at DT.

If you draft a linebacker, he slots in next to C.J. Mosley with Quincy Williams becoming the third LB — goodbye Jarrad Davis. This gives Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen more time to bulk up and learn the position with a can’t miss prospect starting next to Mosley.

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Offseason Priorities

3. In hindsight, give me one signing Douglas should have made last free agency period.

Boy Green:

Ah, the absolute bones of what we do here at Heavy, play Monday morning quarterback and tell the GM what he should have done, I love it. There are a million answers to this question, but I’ll go with the most obvious one — add a tight end.

According to a report from Connor Hughes, the Jets “badly wanted” former Tennessee Titans TE Jonnu Smith, but after losing a bidding war to the New England Patriots, they pivoted to *checks notes* Tyler Kroft? Gross.

That simply isn’t good enough and clearly hurt a young Wilson this year. That has to be a major priority heading into the offseason. There is no excuse with all the draft and free agency options that are hanging out there.


Like most Jets supporters, I was not a huge fan of this move from day one and that was entrusting a starting linebacker job to Jarrad Davis. Preseason injury or not, he was atrocious this year finishing the campaign with a 28.6 grade (out of 100) on Pro Football Focus. Yuck!

If not for the Quincy Williams waiver find, this would have been even more of a disaster than it was and the linebacker room was not pretty! The Jets must either draft or sign an every-down starter at LB to play alongside Mosley, shifting Williams to the less crucial LB3 role.

P.S. A veteran the Jets could have signed to a one-year deal in 2021 was K.J. Wright. He’s an expert on this scheme that could have provided stability and taught the young guns how to play in it. Wright signed late and had a solid season with the Las Vegas Raiders.

4. What position group do you feel is the number one priority for the Jets this offseason?

Boy Green:

If only it were that simple. This team was 4-13 and has missed the playoffs for 11 consecutive years — there are a million holes on the roster.

Although if there was a gun to my head and I had to pick one I’d probably go with edge rusher. Carl Lawson *should* be healthy heading into camp but how much can you trust him off a torn Achilles? You need to keep adding more for this defense to have a chance next season.

They could wait to address it in the draft, they could go add a veteran in free agency, or maybe pull off a blockbuster trade for a proven star. Whatever way they go, they need to add some juice on the EDGE.


I like that choice from Boy Green but I’ll stick with my theme of the past couple of answers and say linebacker. Robert Saleh’s system is heavily reliant on two four-down linebackers that play integral roles the entire game.

For now, Mosley is one of them but he’s only getting older and the Jets will likely move on from his contract in 2023 — unless they find a mutual restructure that works for both sides. I love Williams but he’s not a four-down player yet and he’d be perfect for that third LB role that Davis was struggling at (25-30% snap count).

Nasirildeen looked nowhere near NFL-ready in year one finishing with a 27.0 from PFF. Sherwood was better but he tore his Achilles too. These youngsters need time. Add a Devin White-type do-it-all prospect in the draft and it solves a ton of problems for this defense. Just look at Micah Parsons’ influence in Dallas this year.

My main suggestions in order would be Devin Lloyd (Utah), Nakobe Dean (Georgia), or Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) if you believe the playmaking safety can play hybrid linebacker at the pro level.

5. If the Jets could trade for one player this offseason, who would it be and why?

Boy Green:

This is another question that has a lot of different answers, but I’ll go with the hot name — Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley. If he is mentally okay, that is still very much up in the air, then he would be the perfect fit.

He is young, a proven No. 1 weapon, and would provide an amazing ripple effect on the rest of the offense. People have openly questioned whether this is the right time for the Jets to get aggressive on social media.

If not now, then when? I’m sick and tired of the Jets sitting on their hands and promising hope and development, it is time to seize the day and go get it. For the right price, this would be the perfect trade acquisition for the Green & White.


I have not given a ton of thought to this and you never know who is truly out there unless you’re one of 32 NFL GMs, but I’ll take a stab at a player we have not talked about yet who might be available.

The Green Bay Packers are currently $41.47 million in the hole in 2022 according to Over the Cap. An Aaron Rodgers trade could help alleviate a good chunk of that — no I’m not suggesting Rodgers to the Jets — but there’s another player that I think they definitely move on from this offseason.

That’s veteran edge rusher Za’Darius Smith. Last July, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that the fearsome pass rusher was “unhappy” with a contract payout and the relationship will likely get worse from here. In the final year of his deal, Smith’s cap number is a ridiculous $28.13 million in 2022. Green Bay could save $12.38M by trading or releasing him and some believe they’d be willing to cut him.

Based on that, he probably wouldn’t cost more than a day three pick and a cap split in 2022. Smith has not played since Week 1 but he’s nearing a postseason return. Before his recent back injury, he had only missed six games in six seasons — plus he’s only 29 years old.

This would be a low-risk bet on a veteran bounce-back in a contract year. He’s not a perfect scheme fit but Smith gets to the quarterback with 44.5 career sacks.

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