Joe Douglas has a few holes to fill on the Jets roster; he’s done an admirable job so far of patching leaks with an excellent Draft.
In pure Joe Douglas fashion he hasn’t panicked. He hasn’t signed away the farm to bring in a bunch of overpriced veterans looking for a final payday. No, he hasn’t done “a Maccagnan,” which is hand a blank check over to a player who was just released then tell him to fill it out so he can sign it.
hHe hasn’t done that. He also hasn’t made the Tanenbaum habitual mistake by sending valuable Draft picks to teams for aging (sometimes questionable) veterans, leaving his team with few chances to find young, building block type talent the next year.
No, Joe is taking his time, hanging out at home as much as he can so he can enjoy the kids. It doesn’t mean he is neglecting his job. No, he can take calls and use the internet. All he has to do is look at the bloated rosters of other NFL teams to find his replacements.
Yeah, I know they belong to other teams, but for how long? Every team has packed their rosters with the maximum of players they can (90 total players), but only 53 of those players can make the final roster. So eventually there will be a treasure trove of players available to sign. I know many are either JAGs or practice squad types, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
Teams like the Rams and others will push the envelope to push their salary cap out as far as possible, but eventually you have to pay the piper. Today the NFL is a different place than it was even 5 years ago. I am sure if the Rams are successful again this year the other owners will demand that the rules change. If someone has an advantage they will move to destroy that advantage.
But that has nothing to do with the Jets; we’re just hanging out, building our team, and gaining experience until we have a chance to make our move. It may not be this year, but the Jets are looking to make huge strides to become competitive for years. This is a far cry from the previous czars of the Jets who showed incompetence while trying to keep their jobs.
The Jets are current short on salary cap money. They can restructure some contracts to get more room, but Joe Douglas has been reluctant to do so. Joe looks like the type of GM who wants some cash to spend in the future so he doesn’t paint himself into a corner. I agree with this philosophy with a team that is still building for the future. If you have a team with a window of winning I would be more likely agreeable to pushing the envelop to win now.
So what does Joe Douglas have up his sleeve? He made offers to some players who said “no thanks” (for now), but time is ticking for these players. The NFL training camp season is just around the corner, and some of these players do not have a job.
LB Kwon Alexander left the Jets without a contract weeks ago, but he is still unemployed. I look for some negotiations to happen in the near future for Alexander, and those conversations might just be with the Jets. If not then there are other fish in the sea; let’s look who we might catch.
Which positions are a need for the Jets?
It would be nice to know what we are looking for before we go looking, right? The Jets would never come right out and say it, but I’m sure they are actively looking for a quality back up offensive tackle, a quality run stuffing defensive tackle, an ILB, a weak side linebacker, and a safety or two.
You could expand that search, but for right now those are the pressing needs for this team. The Jets have a lot of late round young players who have little experience, but you can’t just count on a player drafted in the 6th round to become a difference maker. It does happens occasionally, but you just can’t plan on it. When it does happen it’s a pleasant surprise. For every surprise there are multiple disappointments. You can’t build a team just on hope. You need substance. So what may be available to the Jets once the dust clears and teams pick their initial 53 man rosters?
The Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins (for example) currently have 15 offensive linemen on their roster. They signed Terron Armstead in free agency to a 5 year, $75 million that has a cap hit of under $4 million the first year. They also Connor Williams (2 years $14 million) this year. They have also drafted OTs Liam Eichenberg (#42 overall) and Larnel Coleman (#231 overall) in 2021. In 2020 they drafted OT Austin Jackson (#18 overall) OG Robert Hunt (#39 overall), OG Solomon Kindley (#111 overall). They also drafted OG/C Michael Deiter in 2019 (#78 overall), and traded for OT Greg Little who was the #37th pick in 2019 by Carolina. So now the Dolphins have all those players plus OT Adam Pankey, OT Kion Smith, OT Kellen Diesch (UDFA this year) OG Blaise Andries, OG Robert Jones and OG/C Cole Banwart. Some are going to have to go. Most of these guys are scrubs, but you might find a backup tackle.
Personally I really don’t like most of those players for the Jets, but It gives you some idea of players who are going to ultimately looking for a job. This isn’t like years in the past where the Jets had to fill spots across their entire roster. No this will be a planned search for possible serviceable backups who could eventually become starters at specific positions. Quality backups are always needed in the NFL. You rarely have enough for a season. That is why many times the Super Bowl winners are just very good teams who had some of the fewest injuries.
Now I am not a psychic, but looking at the various teams roster I am sure many of the players I feature below will be some of the final cuts come August 30th which is the final cutdown day. These players could interest Joe Douglas if he sees the need. Let’s see who might interest Joe.
The Jets are in desperate need of a quality backup offensive tackle. The trio of Chuma Edoga, Conor McDermott, rookie Max Mitchell and camp fodder Parker Ferguson, Greg Senat or Grant Hermanns give me little if any confidence if the Jets lose Becton or Fant for a period of time. These are players I believe are an improvement.
Roderick Johnson Kansas City Chiefs
6’ 6” 310 lbs 27 years old
Johnson has great length (36” arms) and is his 5th year in the NFL. He was the 160th pick (5th round) back in 2017. He has played with Cleveland and Houston and was signed to the practice squad with KC in January of 2022. He played in every game in 2019 with two starts at right tackle and one a left tackle.
He played in 610 offensive snaps in Houston with another 94 snaps coming on special teams. He has a minimum contract, and his ability to play on special teams makes him an intriguing swing tackle candidate. He has had a single holding penalty in 3 years.
Here he is as the left tackle against the Patriots blocking Rob Ninkovich as a left tackle.
Cameron Erving Carolina Panthers
6’ 5” 315 lbs 29 years old
Erving is entering his 8th season in the league having played with Cleveland, KC, Dallas and Carolina. He started 9 games at left tackle in 2021. He has played in at least 69% of the snaps in 5 of his 7 years. He has some special teams experience in every year he has played, 196 total. He has nearly 3,700 offensive snaps in his career.
Erving played as a swing offensive lineman after leaving Cleveland in 2017. He played all 3 offensive line positions. Here he is #75 tossing a Pittsburgh Steeler to the ground as a guard.
With Carolina drafting Ikem Ekwonu in the 1st round and franchise standout Taylor Moton on the opposite side the Panthers can save $2 million in salary cap by releasing Erving. They also have Brady Christensen who was drafted in the 3rd round (#70) in 2021 out of BYU behind them and OT/G Dennis Daley who filled in nicely at guard because of injury last year. Daley was drafted in 2019 so Carolina has a nice set of young tackles for the future.
Ja’Wuan James Baltimore Ravens
6’ 6” 312 lbs 30 years old
James was a 1st round pick of the Miami Dolphins back in 2014 and played 5 seasons there as a starter at right tackle. He played in Denver in 2019, but an injury ended his year after 3 games. He choose to opt out in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. In 2021 he tore his Achilles tendon during offseason workouts and missed the year. He was signed by Baltimore, but lingering effects of the injury kept him from returning late in 2021.
He has played in nearly 3,700 offensive snaps (all at right tackle) and has 238 special teams snaps also. The Ravens signed Morgan Moses (formally with the Jets) to start on the right side and have Ronnie Stanley returning to start on the left side. The just resigned Patrick Mekari (a swing tackle who played a lot in 2021) to a 4 year $14.45 million contract. They also drafted Hulking tackle Daniel Faalele in the 4th round this year out of Minnesota.
Here is James blocking JJ Watt as the right tackle.
The Ravens have nearly the least cap space in the NFL with a need to extend QB Lamar Jackson soon. Releasing James saves the $3 million, James is not an ideal candidate because he plays only on the right side, but with the Jets have two tackles with left side preference so that it shouldn’t be a problem.
The Jets need a two down plugger who can make the defense tougher against the running game of the opposing team.
The Jets have beefed up the pass rushers but lost their best run stuffing interior lineman to free agency. This defense was a sieve on defense against the run last year while facing the most rushing attempts of any NFL team. It is imperative that the Jets get tougher on the inside of their defensive line.
Andrew Billings Las Vegas Raiders
6’ 1” 325 lbs 27 years old
Tyler Lancaster Las Vegas Raiders
6’ 3” 313 lbs 27 1/2 years old
Both Billings and Lancaster are buried on the depth chart with Johnathan Hankins and Bilal Nichols penciled in as starters. Behind them are both Kyle Peko and Vernon Butler. Adding to that, the Raiders drafted Matthew Butler in the 5th round (#175) and Neil Ferrell Jr. in the 4th round (#126) this year.
Billings was solid in 2019 while playing 657 defensive snaps then 632 snaps in 2018. He sat out the 2020 season because of the Covid 19 pandemic but was relegated to the bench and played only 72 snaps last year. The Jets could bring him in (if cut) to see what kind of shape he is in and what his defensive mindset would be in this defense.
Here is Billings pressing the pocket against the Steelers and getting the sack.
Lancaster was a rotational piece in Green Bay the last 4 years playing at least 31% of the defensive snaps every year but never more than 37%. He was never a star but he was always solid each year and has 1,323 total snaps on the defense for experience. He played better against the run than the pass. He is always a DT who plays the run first; it’s pretty much his game. Here he is moving down the line then tackling Davin Cook.
Either player would make a solid addition for a near minimum salary and could be targeted as a situation run stuffer just as some players are used as situational pass rushers.
Sheldon Day Cleveland Browns
6’ 1” 295 lbs 28 years old
Day is not your typical run stuffing DT, but he is a 6 year veteran who played in the 49ers defense in 2017 thru 2019 so he should be fluent in the Saleh system. He was not a highly used player since he has only 1,100 career defensive snaps. He did have 796 of those snaps in the Saleh defense which should make it an easy transition. He also has 212 special teams snaps so he has some value as a end of the bench rotational player.
Here he is getting a sack against the Rams while with the 49ers
Day is a minimal talent, but if the Jets can use him for a year with a distinct purpose they could get by with him for a minimal salary until they draft someone with a higher ceiling in 2023.
Eli Ankou Buffalo Bills
6’ 3” 325 lbs 28 years old
Ankou has been an end of the bench player in each of his 5 season since being signed as a UDFA by Houston in 2017. He was waived by the Texans but caught on with the Jaguars for two seasons. He has also played with the Browns, Colts, and Bills. He has only played in 33 games since entering the league. He has 584 snaps on defense as a run stuffer so he understands his role.
He sits behind Ed Oliver, Tim Settle, Daquan Jones, and Jordan Phillips on the depth chart so he might need an injury to stay on the roster. Here he is getting a sack while with the Jaguars in his rookie year.
Ankou would be a player who could end up on the practice squad then be brought in on game days when needed. He may not be the frontline starter, but he can be a useful backup who would understand the defense since he would be practicing in it. He would probably not be a highly sought after player so he could be left on the practice squad until needed.
The linebacker position has been overlooked by many but is a blinding sore spot on the Jets defense. You have an overpaid CJ Mosley and a waiver wire pickup in Quincy Williams then a lot of question marks. I’m sorry but Hamsah Nasirildeen (who is penciled in as the starting WILL) and his 10 total career tackles with 60 defensive snaps don’t fill me with confidence.
Marquel Lee Las Vegas Raiders
6’ 3” 235 lbs 27 years old
Lee was drafted back in 2017 by the Raiders where he spent his entire career. He played in 16 games in 2018 starting 10 and putting up respectable numbers for a second year player who played in less than half the snaps on defense. In 2019 he got hurt and only played in 5 games starting 3. He sat out 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic and fell out of favor in Las Vegas. In 2021 Lee barley played on defense and was mostly a special teams contributor. He had only 33 defensive snaps compared to 240 on special teams.
Here Lee is coming up, fighting off the block then making the tackle.
Lee is a physically strong player with great character (He was a team captain at Wake Forest.) and a smart kid. He is not overly fast (4.7/40) so he may struggle in coverage. Lee is an ILB only type player, but he has the size with good instincts to be a capable backup should Mosley or Williams go down. He has 875 snaps on special teams so he is a player that can be an asset as a backup on game day.
Dylan Cole Tennessee Titans
6’ 0 1/2” 239 lbs 28 years old
Cole was a Draft community darling coming out of Missouri State back in 2917. He lacks size but is an athletic freak who is fast (4.54/40) with great agility (6.82 3-cone drill and 4.19 short shuttle) and excellent length (31 7/8” arms). He fits best as an OLB since he can run down players with his speed and wouldn’t have to fight through a lot of blocks.
Here he is making a play for Houston
Cole was a UDFA in 2017 who was signed by Houston where he played his first 4 years then moved on to Tennessee where he saw limited action. He has more snaps as a special teams player in his career (850) than defense (517). He appears to be a backup type player who can excel if used properly but you will look to replace with someone with a higher ceiling in the future. This is exactly what the Jets are looking for as a backup. If you can find a capable starter like the Jets found in Quincy Williams you take it, but difference makers at the position are hard to find on the waiver wire. Cole would be a position holder until the Jets draft his replacement in 2023, but he could be useful until then. Cole has great character, and his prowess on special teams is a huge plus. The kid has a love for football so he will do anything the coaches ask him to do.
Jahlani Tavai New England
6’ 2” 250 lbs 26 years old
Tavai was an overdrafted ILB out of Hawaii (2nd round #43 overall) who has great strength and aggressiveness but is short on speed (4.86/40). He started 16 games over two years making 116 tackles for the Lions before he was waived in final cuts when a new coaching regime came in. He then signed with New England on their practice squad which reunited him with his drafting coach in Matt Patricia. In New England he played mostly on special teams with only 56 defensive snaps. He has always been a two down thumper type who will play about 55 to 60% of the snaps defense.
Here he is making a sack on a speedy QB on a cross blitz
Having 1,277 defensive snaps of experience on defense and 410 snaps on special teams makes Tavai a decent ILB only backup in that he can be active on game days and play on special teams. He is the type of player you look to replace but should provide some level of comfort against injury if one of our two ILB should go down.
The safety position as a whole is a position that scares the hell out of me with a lot of questions. First you have Lamarcus Joyner who is near 32 years old, never that fast, is only 5’ 8” and played a handful snaps before injury in 2021 as a starter on defense. Joyner should be a quality backup who doubles as a coach in practice, not a starter on the team.
The Jets signed Jordan Whitehead to a two year contract, but he is an average player who has never played with any of these defenders before. The safety position is the last line of defense and can cause huge mistakes if everyone is not on the same page. Nearly all the Jets safeties are playing together for the first time; to me that screams disaster. I know the Jets have Ashtyn Davis who played a lot last year but was mediocre at best and Jason Pinnock who looks like a diamond in the rough, but we won’t know without more snaps (16 combined tackles, 1 PBU in 201 defensive snaps).
Karl Joseph Pittsburgh Steelers (Strong Safety)
5’ 10” 200 lbs 29 years old
Joseph was the 14th overall pick (overdrafted) in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He spent 4 years there playing in 49 games while starting 41. He was not tendered a 5th year option (as a 1st round pick) and signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2020. There he had a productive year playing in 14 games while starting in 8 and had 67 total tackles.
In 2021 Joseph signed back again with the Raiders but was released at the end of training camp. He spent the majority of the 2021 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad but only appeared in 2 games for a grand total of 17 defensive snaps.
Here he is coming up from playing as a two deep safety to make a nice stick.
Joseph would be a great get for the Jets because he has a wealth of knowledge and some gas in the tank. He is a strong safety only prospect who is a rugged tackler despite his size. He would be an improvement over just about every strong safety on the roster, but again Joseph is a player who is just better than replacement level at this point of his career and would looked to be replaced next year. He still has value for the 2022 season.
Clayton Fejedelem Miami Dolphins (free or strong safety)
6’ 1” 205 lbs 29 years old
Fejedelem has been a career backup since he was drafted in 2016. He has appeared in 94 of a possible 97 games so he is very reliable. He has spent his first 4 years in Miami plus the last two in Cincinnati with a combined 134 tackles and an INT. He has only 726 defensive snaps over 4 years bit has an impressive 2150 special teams snaps in that same time.
Here he is making the tackle, forced fumble and a return TD for the Bengals.
In fact the Dolphins signed him for his special teams prowess as he had only 31 total defensive snaps in Miami compared to 709 special teams snaps during the same period. He is another player who is a perfect backup, he can play the position as a safety but you would look to replace him the following year. Meanwhile you have a solid special teams maven as your backup.
Josh Jones Seattle Seahawks
6’ 2” 220 lbs 28 years old
Jones to me is an enigma in that he has superior talent as a 2nd round pick of the Packers back in 2017, but has seemed to be his own worst enemy. With the Packers he wanted to play deep safety but gave up too many long passes. When they moved him to strong safety he didn’t like playing in the box even though his physical stature screamed strong safety. He went to Dallas where he played little and was waived. He went to the Jaguars where he played a lot then was waived. He then played for Indy in 2021 but was waived and signed by the Seahawks where he currently resides.
This is a play from his Packers days where he reads the play well for a TFL. If you notice he is near the line of scrimmage where he is most useful.
Jones has played 1,232 defensive snaps in Green Bay with an additional 413 snaps on special teams. With the Jags he played 700 defensive snaps but with Dallas, Indy and Seattle he played a grand total of 80 defensive snaps plus a combined 180 special teams snaps which proves he was wildly disliked.
The Jets would have to be very wary of Jones but they could bring him in to see where he is at as a player and personally. He has only a sliver of NFL life left but there has been great stories of players with talent buying into a coach like Saleh and prospering. Life has a way of humbling some people and the prospect of losing the ability to preform on a football field may change an attitude that may have not been the best.
Jones has talent but the only way to figure out if that talent along with the personality is right for the Jets would be to have him in for a chat. It may turn out to be fruitless or a wise investment of time.
So there you have it, an assortment of players who will probably be available after final cuts in late August. I know the Jets have offers on the table to a few free agents, but even if they are successful in those endeavors they still could improve the roster with a few choice pick ups of players on the waiver wire; not many just a couple. This will help the depth that is always needed during the grueling season ahead.
What do you think and are there any favorites of yours I missed in this article?
Let me know.