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Free Agency Preview: New York Jets Need To Upgrade Everywhere

Will the Jets make substantial moves in free agency and how will this impact the fantasy landscape? Hasan Rahim reviews the New York Jets’ 2018 season, outlines players the team will lose to free agency and considers free agent targets.

Free agency and salary data included in this article was sourced from OverTheCap.

The Jets are currently projected to have $102,889,940 in cap space for 2019, assuming the league’s new salary cap is set at $189 million.

2018 In Summary

The New York Jets finished last in the AFC East with a 4-12 record, and should be looking to make major upgrades on both sides of the ball. The Jets scored a measly 333 points but allowed 441 points for a net difference of negative 108 points.

It’s unfair to paint the Jets’ defense in such a negative light, since their season-end stats were above average. Jets Defense

On a per-drive basis, the Jets’ defense ranked 13th in yards allowed and eighth in plays allowed. Although the Jets’ defense was strong on a per-drive basis, they had the second most offensive drives1 run against them. The sheer quantity of drives faced by the Jets defense makes the unit look worse than they were. 

Unfortunately the Jets field one of the NFL’s worst offenses. The Jets’ putrid offense was unable to sustain drives or score points, and as a result most of the Jets’ opponents had favorable starting field positions. Jets Offense

On a per-drive basis, the Jets’ offense ranked as follows:

  • 31st in yard/drive
  • 29th in points/drive
  • 30th in time of possession/drive
  • 31st in drive success rate
  • 32nd in three-and-outs per drive

It’s safe to conclude that the Jets’ offense was incapable of putting the defense in a position to succeed.

Despite fielding an offensive unit that ranks well below league average, the impact a healthy Sam Darnold provides is noticeable.

Sam Darnold SplitsInvesting in the offense to give Darnold more protection and more weapons should ostensibly give the defense a lift, and should be the focus for the Jets this offseason.

Offensive Free Agents

Josh McCown QB 40 $10,000,000 UFA
Spencer Long C 29 $6,850,000 SFA
James Carpenter LG 30 $4,775,000 UFA
Jermaine Kearse WR 29 $4,500,000 UFA
Bilal Powell RB 31 $3,750,000 UFA
Ben Ijalana LT 30 $2,500,000 UFA
Neal Sterling TE 27 $1,907,000 UFA
Brent Qvale RT 28 $1,907,000 UFA
Andre Roberts WR 31 $1,005,000 UFA
Dakota Dozier LG 28 $880,000 UFA
Jonotthan Harrison C 28 $880,000 UFA
Rishard Matthews WR 30 $790,000 UFA
Clive Walford TE 28 $705,000 RFA
Jason Myers K 28 $705,000 UFA
Eric Tomlinson TE 27 $630,000 RFA
De’Angelo Henderson RB 27 $555,000 ERFA
Davis Webb QB 24 $555,000 ERFA
Robby Anderson WR 26 $543,333 RFA
Deontay Burnett WR 22 $480,000 ERFA
Ben Braden LT 25 $480,000 ERFA

Current APY stands for Average Per Year and is calculated by dividing the total value of a contract by its life. SFA stands for Street/Other Free Agents. SFA’s are players who had contracts that extended into at least with 2016 with a NFL team but were released from the contract.

Unfortunately Bilal Powell suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 7 and it’s highly unlikely that he’s a New York Jet in 2019. Note that Isaiah Crowell is rumored to be a release candidate and I’d expect the Jets to turn to free agency or the NFL Draft in order to address the vacant RB slot.

None of Neal Sterling, Clive Walford, Andre Roberts, or Rishard Matthews were particularly effective. The Jets should be looking to upgrade these positions. Additionally, the Jets should look to address their backup quarterback slot since Josh McCown and Davis Webb are both set to hit free agency.

Potential Moves

The Jets aren’t expected to be Super Bowl contenders in 2019 and should continue to build their team with an eye toward the present and the future.

Robby Anderson will be a restricted free agent and the Jets should look at signing him to a long-term extension. Anderson has been incredibly productive over the last three seasons and should be an integral part of the Jets’ plans for the next few years.

Robby Anderson Career

Although Anderson struggled through injury for a large part of 2018, he was one of Darnold’s more efficient receivers.

darnold ayaUnfortunately, the Jets were forced to release Terrelle Pryor because of an injury, but could look to bring him back. Although Jermaine Kearse is a fairly uninspiring fantasy asset, he could hold value to the Jets as a possible depth piece. If you’re looking for a deep dynasty sleeper, you should consider picking up Darnold’s USC teammate Deontay Burnett.

Although the Jets signed Quincy Enunwa to a hefty extension (four-years, $36 million with guarantees worth slightly over $20 million) he’s yet to truly establish himself as a reliable NFL WR.

Quincy Enunwa Career

Given the ocean of cap space that the Jets currently have to work with, they could look to bring in competition for Kearse and Enunwa via free agency. Players like Devin FunchessDonte Moncrief, and Tyrell Williams should help the Jets fill a short-term void at the WR position. Additionally, I’d expect the Jets to take a shot on multiple WRs in the later rounds of the NFL Draft.

Although Elijah McGuire looked like a capable starter and Trenton Cannon is a capable backup, I’d expect the Jets to add RB help in free agency. The Jets should be able to outmuscle any team for the services of Le’Veon Bell or Tevin Coleman. Although a lucrative RB contract isn’t the best use of cap-space or a good way to build for the future, the Jets have plenty of available cap space and should spend up at RB if they strike out at the other positions of need.

Final Thoughts

As I’ve mentioned, the Jets should be looking for young, talented playmakers on offense as a way to build for the future. Although RB additions in free agency may seem like an antithetical move, the Jets have the third most cap-space in the NFL and can afford to pay up to upgrade their RB. With Kareem Hunt in Cleveland, Bell and Coleman are the two best RBs left in free agency and I’d expect the Jets to be serious contenders for their services.

Most importantly, the Jets should be looking to address the gaps in the offensive line. Spencer Long was cut before the start of 2018 and several offensive line players are rolling off the books. Getting Darnold better protection up front should pay dividends towards helping him develop and should be among the key priorities for the Jets on offense.

  1. NFL offenses ran 191 drives against the defense. Only the Cleveland Browns faced more offensive drives (193).  (back)

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