Through the first wave of free agency, Joe Douglas and the Jets have taken time to improve the team’s offensive line — their No. 1 offseason priority — while also bringing back a number of their own players who had hit the open market.
With moving pieces now falling into place, here’s a look at how the Jets’ depth chart may be looking right now (or at least our best guess), though there’s still work to be done …
QUARTERBACK: Sam Darnold, Mike White
This offseason, much has been made about the Giants’ backup quarterback situation, but the Jets could also use a veteran signal-caller behind Darnold. Trevor Siemian and David Fales, both of whom saw playing time with Darnold dealing with mono last season, are both free agents, and the Jets must add to the QB depth chart.
White is a former fifth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys, but he doesn’t have the experience many teams look for at the backup spot.
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Despite the almost constant trade chatter, Bell looks to be the Jets bell cow once again in the backfield. Even in a down season last year, Bell still had nearly 800 rushing yards. As Adam Gase and the coaching staff continue to find the best ways to get Bell the ball, the depth behind him is currently not what it was. Both Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powel are on the open market, as Montgomery was not every effective in his first season in New York.
Josh Adams is an interesting piece, as he was the Eagles’ leading rusher in 2018. He’s had time on the Jets’ practice squad, and he could be a prime candidate to see a big uptick in playing time next season.
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There is obviously one huge piece to the Jets’ reciever puzzle, and that’s Robby Anderson. The wide receiver market has moved at a glacial pace this offseason, with most teams looking ahead to the draft to fill their voids at wide receiver. With that being the case, Anderson could very well end up back with the Jets, but if not, they have a lot of work to do.
Crowder will be back, but he’s more suited to the slot than on the outside. Enunwa’s playing career is in question after another neck injury, and after that, there’s not much on the depth chart. Doctson is a former first-rounder, but he hasn’t lived up to his billing in the NFL.
TIGHT END: Ryan Griffin, Chris Herndon, Trevon Wesco, Ross Travis
Griffin, the UConn product, had a productive first season with the Jets, catching 34 passes with five receiving touchdowns. The question is, can the Jets count on him as a No. 1 tight end? And what about Herndon? Suspensions and injuries limited him to just one game in 2019, but he is a former fourth-round pick who put up 502 receiving yards in his rookie season. Wesco, meanwhile, is more of a blocker and special teams option at this point, as he had just two catches in 16 games last season.
LT: George Fant, Chuma Edoga, Corbin Kaufusi
Fant is a huge gamble for the Jets, but it was likely a necessary one. Yes, he’s mainly been a backup in Seattle, but the Jets were in desperate need for a tackle in free agency, and Fant has the frame to be a solid tackle. He could be a bit of a project, but it’s a high-risk, high-reward move for New York. Plus, there’s always that 11th pick in the draft, which the Jets are very likely to use on another tackle.
LG: Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern, Jonotthan Harrison, Josh Andrews
Trading for Lewis was the first big move that Douglas made last season after taking over as the team’s general manager, and Lewis, while not spectacular, was the team’s most consistent player on the O-line. The Jets recently rewarded him with a new three-year contract, hoping he can pick up where he left off. Behind him, the Jets have both McGovern and Harrison, both with starting experience.
C: Connor McGovern, Jonotthan Harrison, Jimmy Murray, Brad Lundblade, Leo Koloamatangi
McGovern was considered the best center available on the free agent market, and the Jets made sure to grab him early into the league’s new year. The former Bronco should solidify the center spot, where Ryan Kalil struggled after coming out of retirement to sign with Gang Green. McGovern should be a huge upgrade, anchoring the line in front of Darnold. And again, Harrison provides some decent depth as a backup.
RG: Greg Van Roten, Brian Winters, Jonotthan Harrison
Van Roten, signed on Saturday night, figures to be a huge upgrade for the Jets at right tackle. As of now, Winters is still on the roster, but it’s likely he’ll be cut, which will save the Jets $7.2 million in cap space. All of a sudden, the interior of the Jets’ O-line looks very formidable.
RT: Chuma Edoga, Ben Braden, Conor McDermott
The right side of the Jets’ line does not have the top-heavy talent that the left side does, and right tackle is a spot the Jets could use their first-round pick to address. Even if the team were to draft a Mekhi Becton, or Tristan Wirfs, or Andrew Thomas, with eyes on eventually moving him to left tackle for years to come, right tackle could be a good place to learn for a few years until the team is ready to move on from Fant at left tackle.
How are the New York GMs doing in free agency so far?
Mar 20, 2020 · 2:14
How are the New York GMs doing in free agency so far?
DE: Quinnen Williams, Henry Anderson, Nathan Shepherd, Jordan Willis, John Franklin-Myers, Kyle Phillips, Bronson Kaufusi, Wyatt Ray
With Leonard Williams out of the picture, it’s young Quinnen Williams whom the Jets will look to see a big jump out of as he enters his second NFL season. Williams dealt with some injuries during his first NFL season, which resulted in him missing time and recording just 2.5 sacks. Given time, Williams could improve into a solid pass-rushing option for the Jets.
Meanwhile, Henry Anderson had just 1.0 sack in 2019, but with 7.0 the year before, the Jets are hoping from a bounce-back season.
NT: Steve McLendon, Folorunso Fatukasi
McLendon has appeared in all 16 games in each of the last three seasons for the Jets, a big-time run-stopper in the middle of the line. But he’s now 34 years old, and there’s not much in terms of depth behind him. Fatukasi appeared in 14 games last season, making 27 combined tackles, but the Jets could use a little more depth at nose tackle.
ILB: C.J. Mosley, Avery Williamson, Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, B.J. Bello
Injuries, injuries, and more injuries plagued the Jets’ inside linebacker corps last season, as Mosley, the team’s biggest defensive free agent addition, played in just two games. Mosley did score a touchdown in Week 1, and he’s proven himself in the past as a defensive leader. Getting him back, along with Avery Williamson — who missed the entire regular season with a torn ACL — will be a huge lift for the Jets.
Hewitt, meanwhile, was just brought back on a one-year deal after filling in nicely in 2019.
OLB: Tarell Basham, Harvey Langi, Ahmad Gooden, Frankie Luvu
Outside linebacker is a spot the Jets simply need more production out of, especially with Jordan Jenkins on the open market. There’s a chance Jenkins returns to Gang Green, but if he doesn’t the Jets must add to this spot. Basham played in all 16 games with the Jets last season, but he recorded just 2.0 sacks. With Gregg Williams still using a lot of 3-4 looks, pass-rushing ability out of the outside backers is key.
CORNERBACK: Brian Poole, Bless Austin, Nate Hairston, Arthur Maulet, Kyron Brown
Brian Poole was the Jets’ best cornerback last season, and while that may not be saying much, the Jets were wise to bring him back on another one-year contract. But Poole has always been best in the slot, and with Trumaine Johnson now fully out of the picture, the Jets need to add to their cornerback unit.
After trading for Hairston, the Temple product played in 11 games and made six starts for the Jets, and there’s a chance he’ll compete for a staring spot on the outside in 2020. The rest of the depth chart has some interesting names in players like Austin, Roberts, and Maulet, but an experienced corner should still be something the Jets should consider.
SAFETY: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Marqui Christian, Matthias Farley, Anthony Cioffi
There were plenty of trade rumors surrounding Adams at last year’s deadline, but Douglas has said he wants to make Adams a Jet for life. While a new contract may not happen this offseason, the Jets have time to lock Adams into a new deal eventually. Adams is one of the best safeties in football, and Maye could prove to be a strong complement at the other safety spot, but the Jets could use or two more names on the depth chart in case either player goes down with an injury.
SPECIALISTS: K Brett Maher, P Ian Berryman, LS Thomas Hennessy
Maher was signed to a reserve/futures contract after last season ended, and he has plenty of kicking experience in the NFL, primarily with the Dallas Cowboys. With Sam Ficken an exclusive rights free agent, it’s likely the Jets simply decide to let him go and give Maher the job. Meanwhile, Lachlan Edwards has been a consistent presence for the Jets at punter, but he’s on the open market, meaning Berryman, whose been a practice squad player, is the only punter on the roster. The Jets will likely bring in another punter at some point.
So, just where do the Jets stand? There’s definitely some significant improvement along the offensive line, speciifically in the middle with McGovern coming in and Lewis back in the fold. Left tackle is a question, but Fant could be a big upgrade. Time will tell.
But where the Jets still need a lot of work is in the pass-rushing department. Williams’ defenses in the past have thrived at bringing pressure, and while he found ways last season to get creative in terms of the blitz, bringing in a veteran pass-rusher could help matters immensely, and there are good players available, such as Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen, Clay Matthews, Markus Golden, and Ziggy Ansah, among others.
Wide receiver is also a big question, but with every passing moment, the odds of Anderson coming back to Gang Green seem to increase. The receiver market is moving slow, and the Jets are wise to stay patient here. This year’s draft may be the deepest receiver class ever.
The Jets have filled some of their needs already, and they have time to fill others, but there’s definitely work to be done by Douglas and the front office.