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What Do You Expect From the Jets at the Start of Free Agency?

Negotiating Window Opens Monday at 12 p.m.; Free Agency Begins Wednesday at 4 p.m.


Throughout the offseason, reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will give their responses to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.

Today's question: What Do You Expect From the Jets at the Start of Free Agency?

EA: As of late this week, the Jets had $27.5 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. The most obvious need on the roster is along the offensive line, so I expect the Jets to be active there on multiple fronts. After you pencil in Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann as starters, the current OL includes Ts Carter Warren and Max Mitchell,and G Wes Schweitzer. I'm curious to see how the tackle market unfolds and if Tyron Smith starts the dominoes falling.  What makes the Jets' positionso fascinating is that there are several talented tackles available in Round 1, plus othermoves that will provide clarity on AVT's permanent home. Backup quarterback will also be in play and Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Tannehill figure to get interest from multiple clubs. The upcoming wide receiver market has shrunk, but complementary pieces could be added. This wideout draft class not only has star potential up top – it's a deep group. Of the Jets' 21 UFAs, let's see who returns at safety and defensive tackle while it would be nice to re-sign P Thomas Morstead and K Greg Zuerlein. GM Joe Douglas "ideally" would like Bryce Huff back as the explosive edge looks to capitalize after hisbreakout campaign. As Monday approaches, remember there are waves in free agency and quality finds like CB D.J. Reed and TE Tyler Conklin often fly under the radar.

EG: I expect the Jets to take some calculated swings. The way this roster is set up with 40-year-old QB Aaron Rodgers under center and young stars on their rookie contracts, the team's time is now. GM Joe Douglas has acquired high-level talent through every avenue – free agency (D.J. Reed, Tyler Conklin), the draft (Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall) and the waiver wire (Quincy Williams) while keeping the Green & White financially flexible. Looking at the offensive line, the Jets have two starters under contract with Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann, which makes me think Douglas will look to add players up front. There's good talent at both tackle and guard, like Tyron Smith and Robert Hunt among others. This year's draft class is rich at tackle, but I don't think it will stop the Jets from adding a player (or two) in free agency. Douglas, who has always had a calculated approach to free agency, has done a solid job adding second-tier free agents such as Conklin and Reed. Perhaps he'll look to shop in that tier next week since the Jets don't have as much cap space as in recent years.

RL: Going with an interesting trend that GM Joe Douglas and his personnel people have established since their first free agency fling with the Jets in 2020, I'll say that this being an even year, the Jets will sign multiple productive starters in the first week of the UFA signing period. In '20, Joe D, an old O-lineman himself, brought in C Connor McGovern and G Greg Van Roten in the first four days (and then in late April, T George Fant). Douglas' best FA class was '22 with the first three days bringing to 1 Jets Drive 16-games-plus starters in CB D.J. Reed, S Jordan Whitehead, TE Tyler Conklin and G Laken Tomlinson. The signings in '21 and '23, despite some promising names, didn't have the same number of starts or impact on the seasons ahead. As for specific free agents in '24, I'll leave that to the outside experts, but if the Jets sign a UFA tackle, that opens up their 10th overall draft pick to all kinds of intriguing WR/TE possibilities. But if no veteran OT arrives from outside in the coming weeks, it would go without saying that Douglas & Co. would be interested in, among other positions, the best available tackle at No. 10 in the late-April draft.

CH: I expect the Jets to be immediately active in free agency with a focus on the offensive line. With Ts Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown, Billy Turner and C Connor McGovern set to become free agents, plus the release of G Laken Tomlinson, the Jets have holes to fill. Some popular names that have been thrown around include Ts Tyron Smith and Michael Onwenu, and  G Robert Hunt. While the 2024 NFL Draft class has "12 guys that could be taken on Day 1." according to NFL Network's Peter Schrager, the Jets need multiple starters who are ready to protect QB Aaron Rodgers and I think they will be found in free agency. While adding another wide receiver and a safety are still a need for the Jets, I think the focus early in free agency will be offensive line. I could see the Green & White signing a safety before an offensive lineman because of the talented players available, including Justin Simmons, Jordan Poyer and Quandre Diggs. Regardless, I expect GM Joe Douglas to strike early.

JP: In the early days of free agency, I expect the Jets to address their needs along the offensive line. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported in late February that the Jets wouldrelease G Laken Tomlinson once the new league year begins on Wednesday (March 13). Without Tomlinson, the Jets only have two projected O-line starters under contract – Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann. When the legal negotiating period starts on Monday, the Jets will be aggressive in pursuing a tackle and a guard. Veteran T Tyron Smith, G/RT Michael Onwenu and G Robert Hunt have been floated as viable options by NFL analysts. By addressing their holes along the O-line, GM Joe Douglas & Co.will have more flexibility with the No. 10 selection in April's NFL Draft. Several draft analysts, including NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, have projected the Jets to draft for need and select a tackle. By taking care of the offensive line early in the free agency, New York will gain the freedom to take the best player available in the draft. For example, if one of the top tier wideouts – Rome Odunze, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers  or Georgia TE Brock Bowers becomeavailable at No. 10, the Jets could use the pick to bolster their group of playmakers that features RB Breece Hall, WR Garrett Wilson and TE Tyler Conklin.

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