Jets 2021 Free Agency Review

Overall it’s been a good free agency for the Jets as we added young stars like Corey Davis and Carl Lawson at 2 of the Jets biggest needs. Keelan Cole, Rankins, Joyner and J. Davis all have upside and outside of Joyner, are still young and can improve. Hardee fixes the Jets biggest problem on special teams last year while also providing a great locker room presence. Coleman brings leadership and experience to our young RB room and can help transition to the new offense. Curry, Feeney and Kroft are good depth signings and meanwhile I think Philips can be a surprise contributor. I’m gonna go through each player, their contract and some info about their past performance and how they fit with the Jets.

Carl Lawson is by far my favorite signing on a 3 year $45 million dollar contract with $30 million guaranteed. Lawson has been among the most productive pass rushers ranking 11th with a 12.3% pressure rate and being top 3 in get off time over the past 4 years. This past year he thrived in an expanded role ranking 4th with 64 pressures and 6th in pressure rate at 14.6%. He’s been extremely consistent as he has a career pressure rate of 14.1%, peaking as a rookie with 15.2%. Top concerns are his low sack total, 22 over the past 4 yrs, injuries, 2 acl tears and missed 13 games, and poor run defense. While legitimate I think they’re overstated, his sack total will likely go up with an improved defense meanwhile his run defense can be mitigated due to the Jets strong DL depth. This was a home run as the Jets fill their long time need at edge with a young ascending player.

Sheldon Rankins fits Douglas’ mold of former 1st round pick who flashed but overall disappointed. The 12th pick in 2016, Rankins has thrived as pass rusher posting 9.5% pressure rate over the past 3 years due his ridiculous athleticism. However, Rankins has struggled to stay on the field playing 68/86 games while also leaving some to be desired as a run defender. If he can stay healthy the Jets have another young high ceiling player on their DL. I see him pairing very well with Fatukasi as they excel in opposite areas.

Vinny Curry makes a lot of sense opposite of Lawson and is a great signing at only $1M. He’s thrived in a situational role with a ridiculous 15% pressure rate the past 2 years in Philly. At 33 he doesn’t have many years left but can provide mentorship to a young team and hopefully groom Huff to become a starter.

The Jets have one of the best DLs in the NFL with Lawson, Quinnen, Fatukasi/Rankins, JFM/Curry. A great balance between run and pass defense will allow Saleh to unleash his 4-3. Can’t wait to see what this group does. Makes me think of the dominant eagles DL in 2017 which paved the way for their superbowl trophy.

Corey Davis just came off his best year and adds another name to our growing core of receivers. The former 5th overall pick has improved significantly over the past 2 seasons posting one of the best contested catch rates with 68%. There are concerns coming from the hyper efficient offense in Tennessee and being the #2 receiver. However, with the Jets trio of contributors Davis will have plenty opportunities with 1 on 1 coverage. For a receiver with 90+ targets he’s top 5 in 1st/TD rate, passer rating, yards/route and yards/target. He can handle a large load and helps QBs with his large frame. Pairing him with Mims will give the Jets 2 big targets.

Keelan Cole I think was a sneaky good signing and a potential long-term replacement to Crowder. He did well in Jacksonville despite them actively tanking and being moved from outside to the slot through his career. Surprisingly, he actually boasts the top contested catch rate since 2018 at 65.5%. Initially he thrived as a deep threat placing among the best in catch rate on deep passes before being used primarily in the slot this year. Cole has also only missed 1 game in his career and is a good run blocker. At only $5.5M the Jets add a young WR with plenty to prove.

The Jets now have a very promising receiving core with the trio of Mims, Davis and Crowder and good depth with Cole and Berrios. It’s been awhile since we’ve had any depth past the top 2 options so it’s a welcome change of pace. Davis, Mims and Cole all excel in run blocking which will be huge for a Jets offense that has struggled to move the ball. Add in their contested catch ability and Cole’s+Crowder’s ability to play in the slot or outside and the Jets can have a dangerous passing attack. Hopefully Herndon can regain his rookie season form and adds to this strong group of pass catchers.

Jarrad Davis wasn’t an exciting start to free agency but he can be a potential steal. The 21st pick in the 2017 draft, he disappointed his first 3 years grading terribly in every faze. However, in a reduced role this past year he excelled in coverage and improved overall. Throughout his career, Davis has thrived as a blitzer and forcing fumbles but struggled elsewhere most notably with missed tackles. Another 1st round bust he brings tantalizing athleticism that can hopefully used better under Saleh. Heard several complaints regarding Matt Patricias usage of him. Ideally I see him playing the SAM LB role in the Jets 4-3

Lamarcus Joyner adds another safety while also having experience as a slot corner the past few years. Joyner thrived as a free safety with the Rams posting an elite grade of 90.1. However since joining the raiders he struggled at slot corner. At 31 we’re hoping he can get back to his previous level but regardless he’s a good addition to the Jets defense. Adds more talent at safety while also being able to play slot in a pinch.

Justin Hardee provides excellent leadership and desperately needed help as a gunner on special teams. Universally loved in New Orleans, he will help establish the culture in NY that Douglas and Saleh are trying to build. Almost solely a special teams player he has been one of the top gunners in the league. This past year the Jets coverage unit took a big step back giving up the 6th most yards per punt return. Hardee will help our special teams get back to peak form and will be a respected voice in the locker room

Del’Shawn Philips is someone I think can be a sneaky good addition as he’s only 24 and has elite athleticism. After going undrafted in 2019 he was a final cut in Atlanta before joining the Bills in 2020 in a season derailed by injuries. A former team captain he has some upside after leading his team in tackles and interceptions in 2018.

As of right now the Jets defense is significantly improved everywhere except CB. The DL has the potential to be top 5 in the league meanwhile Joyner joins an already strong safety group. LB adds some talent but most importantly brings back Mosley who’s now missed 2 seasons. CB has good young players in Bless, Hall and Guidry but we need to add more proven players. Still plenty of good corners and the draft left as well. I think this group has the potential to be elite for a long time if everything comes together.

Tevin Coleman adds a much needed veteran to our backfield. Coleman thrived in Atlanta, most notably as a receiver, before struggling with injuries in SF. Jets haven’t had a home run threat in a long time and Coleman brings that. In Atlanta almost half of his rushing yards came 15+ yards past the line of scrimmage. Compared to other RBs Coleman is well above average in pass protection and productivity as well. While the past 2 years out west are concerning the Jets have a strong enough group at RB where Coleman isn’t necessary.

Dan Feeney adds a young but experienced guard to be the top backup. As a starter with the chargers Feeney has been among the worst in both phases of the game. However at only 26 he has some upside and can be counted on in a pinch. Not the guard help fans wanted but maybe what we needed.

Tyler Kroft is probably my least favorite signing as he fills the same role as Wesco. He’s an above average blocker but was nearly non existent as a pass catcher until hauling in 3 TDs this past year. I’m hoping Wesco can beat him out in camp.

The offense has taken a step forward significantly improving the receiving core. However little has changed at TE and along the OL. Draft will likely add talent but I don’t feel comfortable with our current guards. I’m also hoping Herndon can bounce back after 2 very disappointing years. But regardless this is the best group of WRs the Jets have had since at least 2015. Although lacking a true number 1 receiver having several good #2’s isn’t bad. Especially given the age of Mims, Davis, Cole and even Berrios this group offers a high ceiling, high floor. If the OL can be reinforced the Jets offense can breakout.

The Jets added several players to positions of need while also bolstering their strengths on defense. However this season may come down to the areas we did not address, most notably corner and guard. Regardless whoever our new QB is will get an offensive roster that is a significant upgrade compared to years past. Meanwhile on defense the Jets DL has the potential to be dominant and we added some intriguing players at LB and safety. 16 days until the draft.

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