Author: DAVID WYATT-HUPTON
In our last offseason piece we focused our attention on some of the key decisions the Jets will need to make when it comes to their own free agents. With so many about to test the open market, it’s safe to say that Joe Douglas will be on the hunt for a number of replacements.
While some positions on the team will likely be filled internally, the Jets General Manager will have his work cut out with one of the offseason’s most important tasks: spotting and attracting the right talent at the right price.
Hundreds of NFL players are set to hit free agency and with the Jets currently slated to have minimal cap space before cuts and restructures, Douglas won’t be going on a 5th Avenue-type spree. There are, however, a number of players who could be of interest and once the new league year ticks over, a few names who will be at the top of the shortlist.
The Jets won’t be able to ignore the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Key decisions need to be made at both safety and interior defensive line, as the team has a number of players hitting free agency in those positions.
That being said, we’re going to focus this week on the offence, which is where the bulk of the offseason attention is likely to be turned. I’ve outlined four positions that the Jets may look to target in the hope some new reinforcements can jumpstart their engine heading into 2024.
The Jets have struggled with consistency on the offensive line, and will go into the 2024 offseason with uncertainty at both tackle positions. The team doesn’t have to look far to find evidence of the importance of o-line consistency. During their 2009 run to the AFC Championship game the Jets got all but 14 snaps from their starting five offensive linemen.
This year the Jets used 14 different linemen and 13 different offensive line combinations. Priority number one for Douglas will revolve around finding reliable offensive tackles to bring stability in front of Aaron Rodgers. Fortunately for the Jets, there are a number of options in free agency who tick all the boxes and the 2024 draft is considered particularly strong at the tackle position. I’d expect a heavy dose of resources to be spent on offensive line reinforcement.
One of the main objectives for the Jets next season will revolve around Allen Lazard and getting the former Packer back to his best after an underwhelming first season in green and white by his standards.
To take some pressure off Lazard, the Jets will likely turn to the free agent market to secure a running mate for star receiver Garrett Wilson. Just like the offensive tackle position, the wide receiver position is deep in talent when it comes to free agency and the draft. Explosive playmakers are the name of the game and giving Aaron Rodgers more weaponry is never a bad idea.
Both Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas hinted towards the end of the season that with hindsight they may have approached things differently in 2023. You can’t help but think that was in direct relation to not signing a proven veteran quarterback to backup Rodgers in the off-season.
The hope at 1JD is that Rodgers remains healthy for the entire 2024 season, but the Jets have to be prepared for the worst case scenario. This year, we saw a number of backups step into the limelight following an injury to the starter and continue to produce. There are a number of options on the market this offseason, as the trend tends to be that veteran QBs sign rolling one-year deals.
Breece Hall showed that he’s the man in New York going forward, and as the season wore on, Hall seemed to get stronger, an amazing feat considering his ACL injury in 2022. The Dalvin Cook signing didn’t work out, but I do feel that the Jets will be in the market for a veteran running back to pair with 2nd year man Israel Abanikanda.
As always, there are a lot of good running backs set to hit the market and over the last few seasons years we have seen how much value you can get from a veteran RB addition, much as Houston did this year with their acquisition of Devin Singletary.