With money to spend and holes to fill, the Jets are expected to be one of the NFL's busiest teams once the league year commences in March. But what will the market look like once new contracts can be signed and the trading period begins?
"I think they'll be aggressive in free agency," said NFL Network's Charley Casserly of the Jets. "But I don't know how many players they'll sign because how many good players are going to be in free agency? I don't know if this is a great year in free agency."
After last year's housecleaning, the Green & White didn't make any splash signings. But they hit on a few players including veteran CB Morris Claiborne, who signed a one-year deal worth a reported $5 million.
"I think you could see more of those type signings than maybe the big-money signings," Casserly said. "I don't know how many good players are going to be out there, looking at the list, and the list will thin out before they get in."
The group of Jets with expiring contracts include Claiborne, ILB Demario Davis, QB Josh McCown, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, C Wesley Johnson and K Chandler Catanzaro. The club is free to negotiate with any of its own players before the new league year begins.
For months, analysts have speculated what direction the Jets will go at quarterback this spring. Kirk Cousins assuredly will have several suitors after Washington agreed to terms on a blockbuster deal with Kansas City, acquiring Alex Smith in exchange for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. While the Chiefs will hand the ball off to Patrick Mahomes, the Vikings won't keep all of their three quarterbacks and Teddy Bridgewater and/or Sam Bradford could be free to sign elsewhere. The Bills have a critical decision to make on Tyrod Taylor and the 28-year-old dual threat may be on the move.
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If the Jets sign or trade for a proven commodity before the Draft, the landscape would change entirely.
"Obviously you are going to eat up a lot of cap room, but you're going to be able to use that first draft pick to get another guy," Casserly said. "So you pick up two starters and you solve your main problem, which is quarterback. The thing you have to be careful with when you take a quarterback especially is how much of that system is the reason he's successful as opposed to pure outright talent. Some guys can play in any system and some guys will thrive better in another system."
Working with Jeremy Bates last season, Josh McCown had a career year. The 38-year-old free agent to be, who helped mentor Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, remains an option as well.
"If I'm the Jets, I'd like the guy back because he proved he could get us to a certain point winning games. We know he's not the long-term solution, but probably would be a tremendous mentor for a rookie," Casserly said. "It would take the pressure off to have to play the rookie and then you can play the rookie when you want to play the rookie at that point in time."
Holding the sixth overall pick, the Jets could sign McCown or another veteran and still decide to draft one early. While in Mobile, AL for the Senior Bowl, Casserly evaluated both Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. He said Allen can give you the "wow throws," but accuracy remains a concern. And while Mayfield is more accurate and excels with an up-tempo approach, the interview process would be crucial for the Heisman Trophy winner.
"The biggest thing for the teams is what happens off the field, putting them on the board and challenging them mentally to see if they can grasp a system. Putting the pressure there and then trying to get a feel for the personalities," said the legendary NFL executive. "There are more questions on Mayfield's personality than Allen's. Is it immaturity? Is it not being able to handle stressful situations off the field? Those are things I want to try to solve this week if I could."