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What Is the Most Interesting Jets Storyline Heading into the Offseason?

Green & White Could Look to Boost Offensive Line, Wide Receiver

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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 is the most interesting Jets storyline heading into the offseason?

EA: At his season-ending news conference, GM Joe Doulgas told reporters that "it's really not that far away as it looks right now". I agree. The Jets' biggest storyline heading into the 2023 offseason was their intention to acquire a veteran QB. Douglas made that happen with the trade for Aaron Rodgers, but the 2023 campaign was marred by the future Hall of Fame QB's Achilles tendon tear in Week 1. A healthy Rodgers makes the Jets better – Bart Scott says the four-time NFL MVP would be worth three games in WAR (wins over replacement). I believe the top storyline around the Jets this offseason is not sexy – it's meat and potatoes. Douglas has talked about having cornerstone players on the offensive line, but he will emphasize building around Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann. It will also be interesting to see the backup QB plan take shape in the weeks and months ahead. The defense will remain one of the best in the league and is ready to win now. Bryce Huff, who led the club with 10 sacks, has an expiring contract as do safeties in Jordan Whitehead, Ashtyn Davis and Chuck Clark. To me, the top offseason story is the O-line.

EG: The Jets don't have the same amount of financial flexibility as years before. GM Joe Douglas has always been an advocate of building his teams through the draft where he's landed foundational pieces like Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and Jermaine Johnson. That has extended into the later rounds with players like Michael Carter II. With 40-year-old QB Aaron Rodgers at the helm and a young core on their rookie contracts, the Green & White's window is now. It's no secret they'll look to add offensive linemen and receivers, but where and when? If the Jets elect to address one of those positions at No. 10 overall in the draft, they may have to cross their fingers a prospect they like is available. No team wants to head into the draft with glaring needs and free agency always changes the draft landscape since it takes place roughly one month before. Adding players to the roster never stops, but free agency is the first time we could get a sense of how Douglas & Co. will operate throughout the offseason.

Take a look through some of the best black & white photos from the Jets 2023 season.

RL: Anything Aaron Rodgers does on his road back to opening day 2024 will be headline-grabbing. But I'm not alone in my keen interest in the infrastructure that is being rebuilt around Rodgers and the QB position. Which offensive linemen and wide receivers will GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh bring in for interviews and sign during the free agency period? Where will those positions pop up on Jets mock drafts and when the Jets make their selections in Detroit from April 25-27? The OL has some very solid individuals in Alijah Vera-Tucker, Laken Tomlinson and Joe Tippmann but needs stability and availability at both tackles as well as on the interior. Wideout has Garrett Wilson and game second-year prospects in Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee, but the position needs a prominent WR-2 to take the heat off Wilson, who caught only 56.5% of the passes targeted for him this past season due to defenses' constant attention. Whether it's Allen Lazard reuniting for a full season with Rodgers or a top veteran free agent or day one or two draft choice, that's another spot that needs to be addressed.

CH: I think the most interesting storyline for the Jets is what the 2024 Jets offensive line will look like. After another injury-riddles season and with several players expected to hit the market, will the Jets look to build their line through free agency and/or the draft? Or both? How many of their own potential free agents will they re-sign? It's a group that includes Duane Brown, who spent most of the year on IR, Connor McGovern, who suffered a season-ending knee injury after seven games, Billy Turner and Mekhi Becton. Becton's fifth-year option was not picked up by the Jets, so he completed the final year of his rookie deal. Plus, Alijah Vera-Tucker is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon after playing multiple positions (RG and RT) last season. While OL Coach Keith Carter is returning, the offensive line is going to look different next year no matter what. 

JP: My most intriguing storyline for the Jets this offseason will be how they handle fixing their offensive line. The Jets started a league-high 13 different combinations in 17 games and for 11 straight weeks, between Week 5 and Week 16, they started a different configuration. Entering the offseason, six of the Jets 14 offensive linemen who took snaps during the 2023 season have expiring contracts. The Green & White's starting tackles in Week 1, Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton, will be free agents, do-it-all OL Alijah Vera-Tucker will be coming off a season-ending Achilles tendon tear and LG Laken Tomlinson, who played every snap on offense, was the one constant in the lineup. C Joe Tippmann was a bright spot, starting 10 games at center (Weeks 9-18). His 59.8 PFF grade ranked No. 14 among centers who took at least 80% of the snaps. With QB Aaron Rodgers back healthy, GM Joe Douglas will have some big decisions over the offseason up front. Douglas said after the season: "I feel like we do have a few cornerstone players on that offensive line moving forward and we can start building around those guys and keep adding to the group." If the Jets elect to go the free agency route to build around their cornerstones, the group will likely include tackles Tyron Smith (eight-time Pro Bowler) and Trent Brown and interior linemen Kevin Zeitler and Kevin Dotson.

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