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How Has the Jets Roster Changed in Free Agency?

After Methodically Addressing His Needs in the Trenches, Jets GM Joe Douglas Reportedly Reaches Agreement with Elite T Tyron Smith


It's been a busy week for GM Joe Douglas and his Jets personnel staff. And on the first official weekend of free agency, the Jets appear destined to land a big fish as their roster construction continues.

Late Friday night, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport posted on X thatthe Jets were expected to signCowboys' formerLT Tyron Smith. Entering the NFL's new league year, Smith was considered to beone of the elite players on the market, regardless of position. Douglas, who had already addressed the O-line with the acquisition of a pair of starters, has reportedly agreed to terms with a third, who is also a five-time All-Pro to boot.

Since last Sunday, the Jets have announced the re-signings of two potential UFAs inS Chuck Clark andP Thomas Morstead, and also reached agreement on terms with K Greg Zeurlein. They broughtback two RFAs – TE Kenny Yeboah and OL Jake Hanson – and then attacked the open market with the UFA signings of DTs Javon Kinlaw (San Francisco) and Leki Fotua (Arizona), G John Simpson (Baltimore) and backup QB Tyrod Taylor (Giants). Douglas again addressed the OL with the trade acquisition of T Mogan Moses (BAL) and dipped into street free agency with the acquisition of CB Isiah Oliver (SF). The Green & White cleared some financial room with the releases of LG Laken Tomlinson and TE C.J. Uzomah, plus the reported restructuring of LB C.J. Mosley's contract.

Wide receiver, edge and safety needs will have to be addressed in free agency or the NFL Draft. As we come up for air, let's address the state of affairs along the line of scrimmage and at wide receiver.

Dramatic O-Line Transformation
The Jets started 13 different offensive line combinations last season and LG Laken Tomlinson – the only player to suit up in each contest – was released before free agency began. Assuming Alijah Vera-Tucker's permanent home would be right guard, the Jets needed to address LG and both tackle spots.

The reported agreement with LT Tyron Smith, a second-team All-Pro last season and eight-time Pro Bowler, is a game-changer. He remains an elite talent and Smith, who started 161 games for the Cowboys from 2011-23, will be charged with handling the blindside protection for QB Aaron Rodgers. That's two future Hall of Famers and their health will be paramount to the Jets 2024 success. Smith (6-5, 320) played 13 games last season but has been limited to 30 contests the past four years.

Earlier in the week, the Jets made a pair of moves to fortify their offensive front, signing G John Simpson in free agency and trading for T Morgan Moses. Simpson will step in at LG, Joe Tippmann will handle the pivot and Moses will return to RT. Smith and Moses are both 33 and scheduled to be free agents next spring, so this is setting up for an interesting draft scenario for the Green & White. The Jets own the No. 10 overall selection in the draft and it's realistic that -7 tackles will be selected in Round 1.

See photos of QB Tyrod Taylor, DL Javon Kinlaw, OL John Simpson, OL Morgan Moses, DL Leki Fotu & CB Isaiah Oliver touring the Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility for the first time.

As Huff Exits, Interior Gets a Facelift
Fresh off his breakout campaign last season, Bryce Huff departed in free agency and joined the Eagles reportedly on a three-year deal with $34.4 guaranteed. In 37 games from 2020-22, Huff totaled 7.5 sacks, 7 TFL and 22 QB hits. But playing 17 games and appearing in 480 snaps (42%), he transitioned to another level with 10 sacks, 10 TFL and 21 QB hits.

The Jets have Will McDonald, selected No. 15 overall last April, waiting in the wings. He racked up 3 sacks, 4 TFL and 5 QB hits over 184 defensive snaps (19%) in Year 1. That's a small sample size and doesn't mean McDonald will immediately move to an 8-sack performer with similar snaps Huff received, but the 6-3, 241-pound defender is a freaky athletic talent who will have an opportunity to shine in this system.

McDonald needs to look no further than Jermaine Johnson for motivation. In 14 games his rookie season, Johnson had 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL and 5 QB hits while lining up in 312 defensive snaps (34%). Johnson, the No. 26 overall selection in 2022, took a gigantic sophomore leap with 7.5 sacks, 11 TFL and 16 QB hits (including a pick-6 at Cleveland) while increasing his play total to 748 (66%).

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported the Jets will host edge Jadeveon Clowney for an upcoming visit on Tuesday. In a full season with the Ravens, Clowney tied a career-high with 9.5 sacks and had 19 QB hits. He was on the field for 57% of the Ravens' snaps and his play total of 654 was only eclipsed by two Jets, DT Quinnen Williams (779) and Johnson.

The Jets have gotten significantly younger around their superstar DT Williams. Former Cardinals DT Leki Fotu (6-5, 334) figures to step into the Al Woods' (6-4, 309) role as the space-eater. Fotu, who had a career-high 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles in 298 snaps (40%) last season in Arizona, is a former rugby player with power and good movement, plus he's 12 years younger than Woods (37).

Former 49ers first-round pick Javon Kinlaw (6-5, 319) is set to reunite with Robert Saleh. He has exceptional length and took strides last season with a career-high 3.5 sacks , 4 TFL and 6 QB hits. His arrival coincided with Quinton Jefferson (6-4, 291), whose personal-best 6 sacks were third on the Jets in 2023, moving on to Cleveland. Jefferson's 469 snaps (49%) were his fewest in six seasons and yet the production speaks to the Jets' DL rotation and Williams' dominance.

A Solomon Thomas re-signing would also make sense considering his motor and scheme familiarity. In 17 games and 484 snaps last season, Thomas had a career-high 5 sacks.

Corey Davis Set to Return to the NFL
On Thursday, the Jets released WR Corey Davis from the reserve/retired list and he became a free agent. Davis, whose 70% snap total in 2022 was his lowest in 6 NFL seasons, has averaged 14.2 yards a catch in his career and 72% of his receptions (197 of 273) have gone for first downs. He is a big-bodied target who is a physical presence in the run game. Like Davis, Mike Williams is a former first-round pick searching for his next contract. Williams (6-4, 218), the No. 7 overall selection out of Clemson in 2017, will be returning from an ACL tear he sustained in Week 3 last season vs. Minnesota. In 88 games, the former Charger has averaged 15.6 yards on his 309 receptions with 31 TDs. Odell Beckham Jr., whose 50% snap share in Baltimore last season was a career low, has 566 career grabs and 59 TDs. Tyler Boyd, a model of consistency in Cincinnati who lined up in 824 offensive plays last season, has an even 6,000 yards receiving on 513 catches. The big slot (6-2, 203) averaged 64 receptions from 2021-23 while amassing 12 TDs.

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