Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What are the Jets' biggest needs heading into the offseason?
EA: The first thing the Jets need is a clean bill of health for two of their critical pieces. GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh want to win at the line of scrimmage and the dynamic could change dramatically if T Mekhi Becton (knee) and DE Carl Lawson (Achilles tendon) return to 100%. Lawson, who racked up 10.5 sacks for the Bengals in 2019-20, was the best Jet on the field in training camp before he sustained a season-ending injury in a joint practice against the Packers. The defense is predicated on D-line domination and Lawson will be a game-changer in this system. Throughout free agency and the draft, you would expect Douglas to remain active addressing the trenches. The Jets have great draft capital and Douglas made a savvy move last April, securing a foundational piece for the OL with the trade-up to select Alijah Vera-Tucker. While the wall is worked on in front of QB Zach Wilson, the Jets will be in the hunt for more playmakers around him at WR and TE. Flipping back to defense, it will be interesting to see how the club attacks the safety position after injuries forced the Green & White to start nine players there in 2021. They went with a youth movement at CB last season and the play of second-year pro Bryce Hall, and rookies Michael Carter II and Brandin Echols really opened some eyes.
EG: I think there are a lot of ways you could go with this, but you have to look at the expiring contracts. It's also important to designate the difference between a need and a position you'd like to address. For example, I think the Jets offensive line had a solid season and most players are under contract (and will welcome back a healthy Mekhi Becton), but you'd probably expect GM Joe Douglas to add bodies up front this offseason whether it's through free agency or the draft. On offense, the Green & White will need to add players at wide receiver and tight end. WR Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios and Keelan Cole all have expiring contracts as do TEs Tyler Kroft and Dan Brown. Defensively, the Jets have some expiring contracts up front on the DL -- Folorunso Fatukasi and Nathan Shepherd -- and you know Douglas has and will always emphasize the line of scrimmage. I like both C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, but the linebacker position could use an influx as well. In the back end, I think Douglas will add players at both CB and S. Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner, whose seasons both ended on injured reserve, are scheduled to be free agents where corner has most of its players under contract. Obviously a lot will be crystalized over the coming months and you could make cases for every position, but WR, TE, LB and S are probably the biggest needs when you look at expiring contracts.
RL: For Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh and the Green & White, this is a big "IAD" offseason. It All Depends. Needless to say, a team that goes 4-13 and finishes low in a number of key NFL metrics needs help in multiple areas. But if the Jets are sold on the young players they brought in and coached up all this past season and on some of the injured players (think Carl Lawson), and if many of their own free agents sign back with the club, positions that might have been needful may be less so. But assuming a departure of some experience, on offense I'd like to see the addition of a big-name wideout, either in free agency or the draft, to complement Elijah Moore and Corey Davis and the hoped-for return of Braxton Berrios. Tight end was a banged-up group and could use some fresh blood. On defense, I'd focus up the middle. A monster 1-technique in the mold of the Bucs' Vita Vea/Ndamukong Suh tag-team would help plug those porous rush lanes. LB was thin behind C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, unless the organization is sold on either Hamsah Nasirildeen, Jamien Sherwood, or both. In the secondary, never say never at corner but that position seems to be stocked with young talent. The immediate need, again depending on who's coming or going, could be safety.