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Jets Mailbag | Should Team Add a TE in Free Agency? No. 1 RB? 

Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry Joined Patriots; RB Free Agents Include Pair of Former 49ers


Each week Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Rangy Lange will answer your questions about the Jets. If you would like to submit any questions, please click here. The views expressed are not representative of any Jets front office personnel.

Mike LaFleur's offense was centered around the use of a TE and I believe in free agency the Jets should pursue Hunter Henry. He could be a 75-catch player and perfect target for any QB. -Ira Liebefarb / Staten Island, NY

EA: ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news on Monday that veteran TE Jonnu Smith had reached an agreement with the Patriots. The athletic Smith, who set career highs last season in Tennessee with 41 catches and 448 receiving yards and totaled 9 TDs, is set to receive $31.25 million fully guaranteed according to Schefter. Then Schefter and the Patriots were back at it again on Tuesday as the former reported Hunter Henry, who was the top free agent TE on the market after the 6-5, 250-pounder had 115 receptions, 1,265 yards and 9 TDs with the 'Bolts in 2019-20, agreed to a three-year $37.5 million deal with the Pats including $25 million guaranteed. Henry is an explosive playmaker who can separate and the Arkansas product is just 26. The next free tight-end domino to fall could be Gerald Everett, a former second-round pick of the Rams who caught 127 passes for 1,389 yards with 8 TDs from 2017-20. Although Chris Herndon had an uneven year, I believe Herndon's best work is ahead of him. He can stretch the field and has the ability to be a very effective player in this system. The interesting thing about the NFL Draft is that Florida's Kyle Pitts is an elite prospect with star potential and could be a top-five pick, but there figures to be quite a drop after Pitts comes off the board early. 

With the new system the Jets will employ, a #1 RB seems paramount. What level of interest does the team have? -Christopher Davidson / Sante Fe, NM

EG: Christopher, I know you asked specifically about Aaron Jones, who was re-signed by the Packers before the legal-tampering period, but I think the question is still fair. It's hard to say for certain how the Jets will value RBs because we don't particularly know what OC Mike LaFleur's system will look like. Using SF as the base model under HC Kyle Shanahan, I don't think there will be a premium to have a No. 1 RB as opposed to a committee. Three 49ers rushed for at least 300 yards in the 2020 season – Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Jerick McKinnon. In their Super-Bowl run in the 2019, Mostert, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman all ran for over 500 yards. It wouldn't surprise me if the Jets had a committee approach at RB and rode the hot hand. It also wouldn't surprise me if GM Joe Douglas added someone with experience in this Shanahan outside-zone scheme like Coleman, McKinnon or Breida. Could Douglas add a true No. 1 back? Absolutely. Personally, I would find it surprising. Given the success of the Shanahan system without a premier back -- GM John Lynch hasn't drafted a RB since Joe Williams in the fourth round in 2017, his first draft as GM -- I don't think a No. 1 RB is paramount.

Isn't it too risky to switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive front? -Simone Meyer / Cologne, Germany, AE

RL: Simone, teams shift from 3-4 to 4-3 and vice versa occasionally in the NFL. Some of those shifts go well, some don't. And some players play well in both schemes and some don't. It's up to the GM and his personnel team to identify and acquire players who might not be on the roster to fit the head coach's scheme and then it's up to the HC and his staff to coach up all the new guys and holdovers. I believe the Jets have the right GM in Joe Douglas and the right HC in Robert Saleh to get this done. They have, by some reports, the third-most salary cap room in the NFL to sign free agents as well as five selections in the top 86 picks of the draft and nine picks overall to fill holes on the D-line and elsewhere. One last note: the 49ers played a 3-4 before Saleh arrived as DC in 2017 and promptly turned them into a 4-3. In his four seasons at the controls compared to the previous four, the Niners went from bottom half of the NFL to top 10 in the league in most defensive statistical rankings. The Jets have the people, the draft capital and the UFA capital to make the shift and will take this offseason to start to build the kind of highly productive unit that Saleh coordinated in SF.

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