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 do you think about the Jets' Position as free agency approaches?
EA: The Jets have 18 players who could become unrestricted free agents and that list includes WR-KR Braxton Berrios; WR Jamison Crowder; RG Laurent Dumervay-Tardif; DT Folorunso Fatukasi; QB Joe Flacco; S Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Maye; and RT Morgan Moses. According to OvertheCap.com, the Jets are projected to be $48 million under the cap. But if the Jets do keep the No. 4 and No. 10 selections in April's NFL Draft, that figure would dip to around $37 million in available space (existing contracts could be restructured). GM Joe Douglas has the flexibility to re-sign a few of his own and go out and be selective on the open market. With nine picks including a pair in Rounds 1, 2, 4 and 5, Douglas also has the ability to be a player on the trade market. The Jets don't need a quarterback, but both lines will continue to be an emphasis this offseason in addition to playmaker(s) on offense, while there will be moves made at tight end and safety. The Jets will fill needs in free agency and have the opportunity to go big-game hunting, but Douglas is going to continue to set the foundation through the draft. If the Jets can bring in a haul similar to last April, they'll be poised to make a significant jump in 2022.
EG: On the surface, the Jets have a lot of money to spend. They have the fifth-most cap space in the NFL, according to Spotrac, but a chunk of that will have to be devoted to the rookie class that has two top-10 picks as it stands. The team, however, will still have a chance to add quality starters. GM Joe Douglas has shown a calculated approach to free agency each of the last two offseasons, but wasn't reluctant to reel in big fish like WR Corey Davis and DE Carl Lawson last March. I also thought it was interesting when Douglas said in his season-ending press conference, "there's some core philosophies that don't change, but you have to be open to seeing how things are done and maybe adopting certain principles" in regard to his offseason approach. I'm not quite sure what that means for free agency, but it's something to monitor as the legal tampering period is less than one month away. When the rubber meets the road, Douglas will have a plan that will most likely be a blend of calculated and aggressive. This offseason has the blueprint to continue to change the trajectory of the franchise and free agency is step one.
RL: What's not to like? The Jets have the cap room. They have a desire to not back-burner the draft process but augment it with veteran acquisitions. As GM Joe Douglas said in January, "We have great flexibility to be aggressive in a lot of different avenues," regarding attacking free agency as well as the draft, and "we're always going to be aggressive if the right opportunity presents itself" on the trade front. Another thing to like is that One Jets Drive is an attractive location. HC Robert Saleh, his coaching style and a team culture plan, make it so, as does the Atlantic Health Training Facility, meaning the physical structure itself and the support group inside it. Then take those newly arrived, talented veteran bodies and add the Jets' young players already on the roster and in this year's draft and let's see if the Green & White can catch pigskin lightning in a bottle in 2022.