I’m going to be honest: even though I won last years AGOP competition, I look back at my plan last year and I cringe. Last year, I proposed an aggressive free agency approach which wouldn’t have worked out if implemented. This year, I will take the opposite strategy to fill out a roster that has fundamental flaws in both top end talent and depth.
The best moves last year were the "second" tier depth signings (e.g. Brian Poole). I will try to repeat those types of signings this year. I will also try to maintain and accumulate capital and acquire players with upside with an emphasis on filling key positions. The Jets are not going to win this year, or any year, by big spending. The Jets will properly rebuild their roster through smart surgical moves that target the most important positions in the NFL (O-line, EDGE, and Corner, and Wide Receiver to a lesser extent).
Not every problem can be solved in one off-season; the problems are too great. The window for the Jets to be a championship contending team with Darnold on his rookie contract has passed. This off-season is about righting the ship, which can absolutely be done.
In summation, I will be operating under three frameworks:
- Fill the team with young players with upside
- Positional value!! Perhaps sacrifice decent players in non-important positions to improve the important positions.
- Maintain Capital: Accumulate and don’t give draft picks away, and create a stable salary cap situation for years to come
1. Moves the Jets Have Already Made
Cuts: Trumaine Johnson
2. Additional Cuts
Brian Winters, RG, $7,281,250 saved: The extension in 2017 was a mistake, Winters’ tenure on the roster is 3 years too late. 7.2 million with no dead money is a lot of cap room shed, but isn’t that much money for the amount of instances Winters’ has been put on his butt by an opposing defensive lineman
Avery Williamson, ILB, $6,000,000 saved: Williamson is not a bad player, but 6.5 million is a lot of money invested in what is probably the least important position on defense. Couple that with the insane amount of money that C.J. Mosley is receiving, and the Jets have some depth here, all make Williamson an easy cut.
Darryl Roberts, CB, $6,000,000 saved: Another Mac boondoggle signing for a replacement level player. Roberts is ok at sticking with his man but has 0 ability to track the ball in the air. There are players with equal skill that have more upside than Roberts that would be on a minimum contract.
Josh Bellamy, WR, $2,250,000 saved: Another replacement level player, who is making more than the minimum. A special teams specialist who isn’t good at special teams. . . nor catching or route running as a wide receiver. . . . In thinking about it, a replacement level player would probably be better than Bellamy.
Jonotthan Harrison, C, $2,250,000 saved: See above. I really did not intend to make my AGOP submission a Mac bash fest, but it is very hard not to do.
Nate Hairston, CB, $2,144,000 saved: Had one good game last year, but Hairston was basically unplayable on the outside last year. Maybe he is a passable backup slot corner, but at this point I would just fill that role with a player on a minimum contract.
Matthias Farley, S, $1,200,000 saved: Fringe player making more than the minimum.
Charles Tapper, Conor McDermott, Daniel Brown, Ben Braden $2,715,000 saved: fringe players with no upside who probably do not need to come to camp.
Projected Cap Space: $79,125,607 (Source: OTC)
Le’veon Bell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 6th round pick (pick 194): This is probably the first controversial move of my AGOP analysis. Admittedly I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but ultimately, Bell’s production was not great last year and can be replaceable with a less expensive player. The additional draft pick and 9.5 million dollars saved in cap room will be more valuable than an underperforming player in a non-premium position. The Jets should trade bell to a RB needy team
Projected Cap Space: $88,625,607
Kelvin Beachum, LT, 2 years $14 million, $7 million guaranteed ($7.25 million cap hit): Beachum isn’t great but he’s a serviceable pass blocker. Getting him on a cheap deal makes sense if he is willing to resign with the Jets. This deal can be restructured that if the Jets find a long-term solution this year at left tackle, they can cut Beachum.
Robby Anderson, WR, 3 years $38 million, $16 million guaranteed ($11.83 million cap hit): Yeah this is probably a slight overpay, and I have gone back and forth on this for months, but the reality is that Robby does provide a unique and valuable skill that other teams have to compensate for. Maybe, he is not a true number 1 receiver but his ability to get open and track the ball deep is a legitimate concern for any defense that must game plan against him. This coupled with a thinner free agent market at receiver, it is logical to bring back Robby.
Brian Poole, CB, 3 years, $25.35 million, $9 million guaranteed ($7.77 million cap hit): This is a no brainer. Poole was one of the best slot corners in the NFL last year, and the Jets need to fill a position of weakness with talent.
Neville Hewitt, ILB, 1 year, $1.2 million, $0 guaranteed ($1.2 million cap hit): Played well in a starting role last year with Mosley out. Makes sense to resign him.
Bilal Powell, RB, 1 year, $1.05 million, $0 guaranteed ($1.05 million cap hit): Maybe this is more sentimental than anything else, but Powell still looked solid when he got the chance to play last year. Makes sense to bring him back as a depth piece.
Albert McClellan, Rontez Miles 1 year, minimum, ($1.96 million cap hit): McClellan played decently last year with all the injuries at linebacker and Miles provides decent value at special teams. There is no harm in bringing them back. Good depth and good special teams play are worth bringing some veterans back even if they have little upside.
Projected Cap Space: $58,585,607
5. Free Agents
Graham Glasgow, G, 5 years, $50 million, $17 million guaranteed, ($9.2 million cap hit): Glasgow is a top tier guard in football (was 12th among all guards in PFF ranking last year), and is the best guard in the free agent market after Thuney was franchised. The Jets must go all out in what was their greatest weakness last year
Conner McGovern, C, 4 years, $48 million, $15 million guaranteed ($12 million cap hit): McGovern is a player that is just entering his prime. Yes, he only had one excellent year but is still young and entering his prime. He was 5th in PFF in pass blocking among Centers last year. He also has flexibility, so if the Jets draft a center, McGovern can move over to guard.
Kevin Johnson, CB, 2 years, $10 million, $4 million guaranteed ($5 million cap hit): I think Johnson is one of the most under-the radar free agents this offseason. Johnson was a former first round pick and didn’t show much with the Texans. He signed with the Bills on a one year prove it deal and was excellent in a rotational role. He is still relatively young and may just be a late bloomer entering his prime. It thinks it’s absolutely a good idea for the Jets to take a flyer on him.
Darqueze Dennard, CB, 3 years, $21 million, $7 million guaranteed ($7 million cap hit): Double dipping in cornerback. Dennard is another former first round pick who had a productive year last year. Dennard is mostly a slot corner (he could back up Poole there), but has played on the outside in the past, and could play there next year if Johnson or Bless Austin doesn’t play well.
Vic Beasley, EDGE, 1 year, $3 million, $0 guaranteed ($3 million cap hit): Signing former first round picks is becoming a trend here. Edge will be somewhat neglected in this year’s AGOP, as not every position can be addressed. Beasley had a good year a few years ago, so here is hoping he can re-kindle some of that magic. He would probably be a situational pass-rusher for the team.
Jordan Howard, RB, 3 years, $12 million, $3 million guaranteed ($4.167 million cap hit): Howard was solid when healthy last year for the Eagles. He is a good player, who should fill Bell’s production at a much lower cost.
Jimmy Graham, TE, 1 year, $1.05 million, $0 guaranteed ($1.05 million cap hit): Obviously Graham is at the end of his career, but he is a proven pass-catching tight end, who is a good backup insurance policy if Herndon remains an injury prone-player. It’s also a cheap and unique way to give Darnold more weapons even if Herndon is healthy (maybe a lot more 2 TE sets to create mismatches???).
Dan Bailey, K, 1 year, $1.05 million, $0 guaranteed ($1.05 million cap hit): Was the best kicker in the league a few years ago. Was solid with the Vikings last year, worth a shot.
Projected Cap Space: $20,501,773
Round 1, Pick 11 Jets Select Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: The Jets must continue to bolster their offensive line in the draft. I think at this point the choice will be between Thomas and Mekhi Becton out of Louisville. Though he must work on his technique in some areas, Thomas was an elite run blocker at Georgia and held his own as a pass blocker. Thomas is the higher floor player who could start day one for the Jets at Right Tackle
Round 2, Pick 48 Jets Select Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin: Just like 2006 when the Jets took a tackle and center with their first two picks, the Jets should repeat that strategy here. I have been saying for years that the Jets should dip into the elite Wisconsin O-line pipeline. Biadasz is the best Center in the draft. He is strong, routinely blasts open holes and is a very polished player. He is a no brainer to take at pick 48 if he is still on the board.
Round 3, Pick 68 Jets Select Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame: Claypool has a skillset that would be excellent to pair next to Robby for the years to come. He is a big strong possession receiver, who was productive at Notre Dame and was good at getting yards after the catch.
Round 3, Pick 79 Jets Select Anfernee Jennings, EDGE, Alabama: Jennings is Jordan Jenkins-lite player, who would make sense as a replacement for Jenkins who they will lose this offseason. Jennings likely won’t be a superstar (has limited athleticism) but he is a high-floor player who has good strength and technique at the point of attack and will be solid at setting the edge at the next level.
Round 4, Pick 120 Jets Select Reggie Robinson, CB, Tulsa: Robinson is one of my favorite sleepers in the draft. He is a tall cornerback who has the skills and speed to possibly be a starting outside cornerback down the road. He is a bit raw and likely won’t get significant playing time this year but has high potential. Continuing to build up corner depth is a must this offseason.
Round 5, Pick 158 Jets Select Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin: The Jets must continue to surround Darnold with as many weapons with potential as possible. Cephus’ stock will drop because of off-the-field issues and a dreadfully slow 40-yard dash at the combine. But Cephus has good in-game quickness, big-play ability and he was a very difficult matchup problem for other teams. Taking him in the 5th round would be good value.
Round 6, Pick 191 Jets Select Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State: Evans is an undersized, small school prospect with tremendous speed. I hope he would be able to fill the Trenton Cannon role better than Canon as a change of pace back and special teamer.
Round 6, Pick 194 Jets Select Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State: Luton put up good numbers in a pro-style offense at Oregon State last year. Has good size and traits. Doesn’t really have the pocket poise and ability to go through progressions, but he has some traits that indicate he could develop into a good backup for Darnold.
Round 6, Pick 211 Jets Select Alex Givens, G/T, Ole Miss: Givens played guard and tackle at Ole Miss. Had injury issues but was solid when he played.
Key UDFA: Derek Adams, P, Kent State: Jets must replace Lac Edwards who they will probably let go. They can find a solid replacement in Adams as an undrafted free agent.
*According to Walter Football, all these players will realistically be available in the rounds I have them mocked here.
7. Preliminary Look at Depth Chart (starters in bold, rookies in italics)
QB: Sam Darnold, Jake Luton
RB: Jordan Howard, Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon, Darrynton Evans
WR: Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Chase Claypool, Quintez Cephus, Josh Doctson, Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith
TE: Chris Herndon, Jimmy Graham, Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco
LT: Kelvin Beachum
LG: Graham Glasgow, Alex Givens
C: Tyler Biadasz
RG: Connor McGovern
RT: Andrew Thomas, Chuma Edoga
DE: Henry Anderson, Kyle Phillips, Brandon Kaufusi
DT: Quinnen Williams, Nathan Shepherd
NT: Steve McLendon, Folorunso Fatukasi
EDGE/OLB: Tarell Basham, Anfernee Jennings, Vic Beasley, Harvey Langi, John Franklin-Myers
ILB: C.J. Mosley, Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, Albert McClellan
CB: Darqueze Dennard, Kevin Johnson, Brian Poole, Bless Austin, Reggie Robinson, Kyron Brown
S: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Rontez Miles
K: Dan Bailey, Brett Mahar
P: Derek Adams
LS: Thomas Hennessy
*Other depth spots for training camp will be filled by additional UDFA and street free agents
There you have it, the Jets are a better team now! Thoughts, comments and criticisms will be welcomed and appreciated.