Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Caroline Hendershot will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What is the Jets' biggest non-QB need this offseason?
EA: In addition to needing a clean bill of health on the offensive line, the Jets could be in the market for a couple of starters up front. C Connor McGovern and T George Fant have expiring contracts, while Duane Brown told reporters at the end of the season that he'd take time to decide his future. This is a huge offseason for the trimmed-down Mekhi Becton and Max Mitchell, who impressed as a rookie. The only sure things at starter at this point are Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker, the versatile stud who said he'll be back at 100 percent for training camp. Depending on what happens with a veteran QB and thefinancial ramifications, the Jets could be in the market for another receiver. On defense, look up the middle at DT, LB and S as Sheldon Rankins, Quincy Williams and Lamarcus Joyner all could become UFAs.
EG: This comes down to offensive line and linebacker for me. The Jets have eight players with expiring contracts including three starters – C Connor McGovern, T George Fant and G Nate Herbig – not to mention the possibility of Duane Brown retiring. McGovern was the only player of an injury-littered group to take all 1,114 offensive snaps this past season. He's missed two games during his three seasons in green and white and has provided stability up front. Fant has started each of the past three seasons for the Jets while Herbig started 11 games this past season. Alijah Vera-Tucker (triceps) and Mekhi Becton (knee) are returning from injury, but the Jets could need reinforcements at starter and for depth. At linebacker, C.J. Mosley is under contract, but Quincy Williams and Kwon Alexander are not. Williams and Alexander had the most playing time at LB after Mosley. Williams was second on the team with 106 tackles. His 12 tackles for loss tied for the team lead with his brother, Quinnen. Alexander proved to be a valuable summer pickup and started 12 games for the Green & White.
RL: The O-line struggled all season with injuries and its production suffered. Individually, the '23 line looks good with Mekhi Becton returning at LT, Laken Tomlinson back for Year 2, and Alijah Vera-Tucker and his rehabbed elbow ready to play any position needed, but probably RG. Solid C Connor McGovern was the only Jet to play all 1,114 offensive snaps and the only Jets O-lineman to do that since Kelvin Beachum and Brian Winters in 2018. Duane Brown and George Fant are blood-and-guts veteran tackles. Max Mitchell and Nate Herbig showed flashes as starters. But the Jets have eight, count 'em, eight OL who can become UFAs, topped by McGovern, Fant and Herbig. And in '22 the unit had 12 different players get snaps, 11 make at least 1 start, and 6 who played two or more positions during the season. The line instability was one reason many of the Jets' offensive numbers during their season-closing 6-game losing streak were at or near last place in the NFL. It's not all on the OL's shoulder pads, but GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh have a plan that I suspect will include multiple comings and goings on this unit.
CH: The obvious answer based on the Jets 2022 season would be the offensive line. The Jets O-line was in flux throughout the season because of injuries. While Mekhi Becton, Max Mitchell and Alijah Vera Tucker are all expected to return, there are free agents who may not. George Fant and Duane Brown, who played through injuries are free agents, as well as Mike Remmers, Cedric Ogbuehi, Dan Feeney, Nate Herbig, Greg Senat and Connor McGovern. While some are likely to return, the Jets need to add depth and try to avoid wholesale changed on the line throughout the 2023 season.