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NFL Insiders: Jets' Free Agency Class Is 'Compelling' As Long As All Remain Healthy

GM Joe Douglas' O-Line Rebuild Is 'Massive' and Helps Provide 'Flexibility' Heading into Next Month's Draft

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) plays against the Tennessee Titans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

How have the Jets done so far in free agency? As for all NFL teams, this time of the offseason can be the best of times and the most angst-ridden of times. Four NFL reporters spoke with's Eric Allen at the league's Annual Meeting in Orlando, and all four had variations on the theme of the Jets and general manager Joe Douglas having a great free agency to date. Unless...

"It was a very obvious offseason, right?" said CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. "If you were a novice football fan and you watched the Jets last year and you determined what they need, you'd say, OK, you need an offensive line, you probably need a backup quarterback, and you need another wide receiver. And then they went out and did exactly that. We'll see how it works."

"We'll see how it works" is another way to say as big an upside as the Jets' acquisitions have, there is a potential downside for some of them. Health questions are highly important for two of the key signings, left tackle Tyron Smith and wide receiver Mike Williams.

Smith, for his first five seasons with Dallas, was virtually indestructible as he was named to three Pro Bowls and laid the foundation for his potential Hall of Fame induction ceremony down the road. Smith, for his last eight seasons, still played at a high level — earning his next five Pro Bowl berths and the second of his first-team All-Pro spots — but a variety of injuries limited him to playing in 64% of the Cowboys' games (87 of their last 136 games, including playoffs). He's coming off 13 regular-season starts in '23 and said last week, "Physically, I feel great."

Williams, on the other hand, suffered an ACL injury in the Chargers' Game 4 last season and will be in rehab mode on into training camp, although he told Jets reporters as well as ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter that he'll be ready for opening day. Williams even said on Schefter's podcast last weekend that he's "excited about the idea" of teaming up with Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Wilson and the Jets offense.

Injuries don't loom as large for trade-acquisition right tackle Morgan Moses, free agent left guard John Simpson and UFA QB backup Tyrod Taylor, or for D-line free agents Javon Kinlaw, at least last season, and Leki Fotu.

"I think what they did on the offensive line was massive," said Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter, although he said later that the Smith-Simpson-Moses trifecta has that possible health downside as well. "Not only are those guys on one-year contracts, but they're also pretty old. It's hard to count on them for 2025, whether they're signed or not. So I think you absolutely have to get someone [at tackle] in the pipeline. But you don't have to do it in the first round. You can pick a developmental guy in the third round."

Adam Caplan, NFL Insider and columnist at Pro Football Network and other platforms, sees the same two-sided issues with Williams, the former Chargers wideout.

"Mike Williams, for being as big as he is, his thing is downfield. He has this unique ability to make these incredible catches," Caplan said. "And you're not going to know till training camp what this looks like. ... He's older now, he's 30 [in October]. But the guy can play. It's just that you don't know what you're getting."

With the Jets free agency class not likely to show its collective quality until September, the strength of the group in the interim is the quality that Douglas and the Jets sought over the past several weeks and ahead of next month's NFL Draft: flexibility.

The Jets, said Breer "have that flexibility" in not, for instance, having to force a tackle selection at their 10th overall spot. "If it's [Georgia TE Brock] Bowers or [Washington WR Rome] Odunze, whoever it is that's available there at 10, you can pull the trigger on something like that and find another way to address the tackle position or punt till next season on it. Finding a developmental guy further down the road, I think, would be a part of that plan."

It all comes back to the upside and the downside, the yin and the yang of each player that the Green & White have brought in over the past several weeks.

"They've added a lot of really compelling players," Schefter said. "And you could ask this question for almost all of them: Can they and will they stay healthy? And if you can tell me right now that all these guys are going to stay healthy this year, then the Jets are going to have a great year. And if they can't stay healthy, they're not."

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