With the offseason in full swing, players get themselves a little time to relax, work on some training, or go on vacation which is a well deserved break. Meanwhile back at the ranch the Jets front office has some work to do before the training camp begins. I’m sure Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh and the rest of the coaches will get some much needed family time, but there is work yet to be done. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines they could or should be working on. Time flies when you’re not at work. Just ask any working person about the weekend.
There are some needs to be taken care of in the contract realm. It will be interesting to see how Joe Douglas handles these situations. The Jets haven’t really needed to work on contract extensions with the way they drafted in the past. Usually the Jets are showing players the door.
Fant had himself a career year in 2021. He is entering the final year of his contract with a cap hit number of $11,102,941 in 2022. Fant came into the minicamp in great shape with his hand out wondering why he hasn’t received a new deal.
This is one of the interesting dilemmas of the off season. We will see exactly how Joe Douglas feels about George Fant. There is no doubt Fant was a life saver last year when Mekhi Becton went down, and publicly Joe D has said all the right things about George Fant.
Joe can use all the platitudes he wants, but what speaks loudest is money. If you want a player to be a part of the team you have to pay him. Fant isn’t going to want a one year deal. No, he will be looking for a 3-4 year deal. Coming off a career year he is going to want to cash in.
How good was Fant? Will Joe D want to spend the money to keep Fant around?
According to PFF (not the end-all in player ratings) Fant was the 39th best tackle in the NFL last year just ahead of Morgan Moses who, Joe D refused to re-sign. Moses liked the Jets, saying all the right things, but he signed in Baltimore when a Jets contract never arrived. Moses signed a 3 year $15 million contract with the Ravens with a cap hit in year one of only $2,580,000; you can’t find value at the tackle position for less than that.
Fant is 30 years old right now so how much does Joe D want to spend on him? How long does he want him? Will the Jets be looking for a tackle in the draft next year, or do they really like Max Mitchell who is a developmental type player?
The Jets have recently brought in Riley Reiff and could possibly have an interest in Duane Brown, but those could be dreams. Brown just came off a 3 year contract with an average salary or $11.5 million a year. He is nearly 37 years old and was only a few spots (#37) ahead of Fant on PFF.
Reiff is nearly 34 years old himself and just came off a contract where he was paid $7.5 million on a one year contract. This is too pricy for a backup tackle. Also available is former 1st overall pick Eric Fisher who is also coming off a pricy one year contract of $8.38 million; Fisher is only 31 years old and plays left tackle. Reiff was ranked by PFF at #49 last year, and Fisher was ranked at #46 so they are not any improvement over the player the Jets let go in Morgan Moses who makes a lot less money. This could be a make or break issue for the Jets if they don’t find a suitable backup then one or both of their starting tackles go down for an extended period. That is something that could send a promising season straight into the toilet in a hurry.
The Jets are supposedly looking to give an extension to Quinnen for some reason I don’t understand. Williams is under contract (the Jets picked up his 5th year option) through the 2023 season, and few players have their contracts redone prior to them finishing their 4th year playing (if they are 1st round picks). It’s not like Williams is making minimum wage since he has a cap number this year of $10,550,255 and a cap number in 2023 of $9,594,000. You are looking at $20 million over the next two years which is slightly more than my wage (without bonuses) at GGN. Plus he hasn’t been exactly killing it on the field.
Williams has played in 41 of a possible 49 games with 37 starts so far in his career. He had a better year in 2020 than he did in 2021 despite the fact the Jets brought in some talent (Sheldon Rankins) to help protect him. Williams had 53 combined tackles in 2021 with 6 sacks and 7 tackles for loss while starting 15 games. In 2020 Williams had 55 combined tackles with 7 sacks and 10 TFLs in only 13 starts. So you could make the argument that Williams is not really improving. He was ranked by PFF as the 37th best interior defensive player in 2021.
Williams has talent plus and will only be 25 years old so he should have better years ahead of him. It will be interesting to see how Joe Douglas views the future of Williams.
I wouldn’t hold my breath for a trade, and I (with no knowledge of the situation) believe that Joe doesn’t do anything on the contract situation until at least next year. If Williams blows up and becomes a dominant interior player it will cost Douglas big time, but if he signs Williams to an extension now he is gambling that Quinnen will become something he has yet to show on the field.
Not much has been written or said about McGovern this offseason, but he is at the end of his 3 year contract so the Jets will need a plan of action quickly to figure this out. McGovern was a great signing back in 2020. His first year play left something to be questioned, but 2021 saw a revival of the McGovern faithful as he rebounded with a quality season; even PFF rated him in the top 10 of centers in the NFL. McGovern just turned 29 years old.
Since the Jets signed McGovern they have done nothing to plan for a future beyond him. So now the Jets have no one to replace him if he wants to leave in 2023. They have a replacement level center in Dan Feeney behind McGovern, but he is also on a contract that expires at the end of the year.
Does Joe Douglas wait to the end of the year to see how McGovern plays before he looks to either replace or extend McGovern? Or does he have a plan to draft a young replacement then take a compensatory pick from the NFL when McGovern signs with another team?
My guess is Joe is looking to tie McGovern up with another 3 year deal with a slight raise so he can develop some continuity on the offensive line. He might have to backload a contract to helps the salary cap situation, but I would be surprised if a deal with McGovern is not already in the works behind the scenes. I would look for an announcement sometime during training camp to drive up enthusiasm for the team and team chemistry.
Like I said earlier, Joe Douglas likes to stockpile picks so he can wheel and deal during the NFL Draft. The Jets (although it is rare) could trade a player from a certain position for a player from another position. The Jets are light on safeties, backup offensive tackles, and linebackers and could use a solid run stuffing defensive tackle.
So who could be traded to procure these players?
I have seen talk about trading Bryce Hall. He was a starter last year but is now a backup after the additions of Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed. This in my opinion would be foolish. First of all the Jets have nurtured Hall from a 5th round pick coming off a horrific injury into a viable starter on the outside which is hard to do. Hall has developed so why trade away a valuable asset when injuries occur at a high rate in the NFL?
Plus this isn’t 1970, and opposing teams play a majority of 11 personnel which consists or 3 wide receivers. Hall has proven himself to be a valuable player at a position that is difficult to fill. The Jets could never get full value from a trade of Hall unless they get a 1st round pick in the deal. Last year Hall played more snaps than any other CB in 2021 with 1,169 snaps. He played at least 97% of the snaps in every game in 2021. In my opinion Hall would be too valuable to trade with the ability he has and he is still an ascending player.
Huff is a young guy (24 years old) who has flashed as a pass rusher but has lacked the reps to improve his technique. He played only in half the games with a snap count above 60% only twice in 2021. Kyle Phillips has been more productive despite having less snaps than Huff in 2021, but he was unsigned in 2022. That doesn’t bode well for Huff. With JFM, Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry, Michael Clemons, Jermaine Johnson, Jacob Martin, and Jabari Zuniga on the roster the Jets will need to pare down a roster that is heavy on edge rushers.
Bottom line is the Jets will need to cut some players on the edge with talent that other teams could use. If they are wise they will send a late round pick (6th or 7th) to the Jets for the cheap contracts of these players about to be released rather than fight over them with other teams in the open market. Edge rusher is one position where teams would be willing to cough up a pick for if they think that player could help them out off the edge.
Mims is a player who evokes a wide variety of thoughts. Is he a talented player who has been snake bitten by injuries and sickness, or a player with little value because he has done very little in two years?
Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle. There is little doubt Mims has talent. He had a typical rookie season as an X receiver then struggled when he had a new playbook and an offensive coordinator who told him to learn all the receivers positions and not just the X position. He then got horrible food poisoning, lost weight, got Covid and never became the player he could be.
He has since come to camp in great shape with a renewed desire to learn whatever the offensive coordinator wants him to learn. He lost his chance at a starting position with Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and 1st round pick Garrett Wilson ahead of him. Then with the strong play of a speedy Jeff Smith, Mims has been placed behind the eight ball.
Other teams of course see this and will try to steal Mims away from the Jets. It would be tough for Mims to make a difference for the Jets in 2022 without either a remarkable training camp or a couple of injuries. Yet Joe Douglas has seen first hand the need for depth in case of injuries.
I would not be surprised to see Mims survive training camp with a good showing. He could always be traded down the road to a team with playoff asperations who had a rash of injuries. This is how you get the best deals. You have a desperate team with no depth at the WR position. My guess is that Joe will not give Mims away, but if someone calls with a 3rd round pick in hand then Mims will be an ex-Jet. It’s not that the Jets look at Mims as a poor receiver. Tather they look at the value of a 3rd round pick against a player who may be the 5th receiver on the roster but also doesn’t play special teams. Unless an injury occurs that player would be left off the game day roster most weekends.
The Jets like Mike White quite a lot, but so do other teams. Don’t think for a second that teams didn’t notice that White threw for 405 yards and 3 TDs in a win against the team that nearly won the Super Bowl. He only played in 4 games last year, and one was a game against the Bills where the Jets were never competitive. I was laughed at when I said the Jets could get a mid round pick for White, but I don’t know if the Jets would accept that type of trade unless it was at least a 3rd or 4th round choice.
The only reason the Jets would except that is that they no longer have any control of White after this year. He was a RFA this year, and at 27 years old White will not want to sit behind a young QB who the Jets picked second overall a year ago. He is going to look for a place where he may be able to compete for at least a backup job if not a starting position. The Jets could hold on to White to make sure they don’t have a disaster with Wilson and Flacco going down at some point this season. If White makes it to the final 53 the Jets may just be waiting for another team to have a QB go down so they can maximize the value White has.
Even with all the work Joe D has done in the draft and in free agency the Jets still lack some basic needs heading into the 2022 season. We made mention of the offensive tackle position earlier which has to be a priority. Remembering Mekhi Becton played only 1⁄2 a game last year, the Jets would literally be up the creek without a paddle if a serious injury should befall either starting tackle. The health and well being of Zach Wilson should be paramount. You can’t develop if you are on the sidelines nursing an injury because we had Chuma Edoga or Connor McDermott playing as a left tackle.
The defensive tackle position I think is under the radar right now, but it should be a priority rather than an afterthought. Last year the Jets were ranked 29th in rushing yards allowed and were only 133 yards from being the worst team against the rush. Because they were so uncompetitive in some games and so easy to run on they faced the most rushing attempts of any team in the NFL in 2021. The Jets brought in Sheldon Rankins who was horrific as a run defender ranking on PFF as the 7th worst run defender in the league.
So what did the Jets do to help this situation in the offseason? Well they let the defensive tackle who was traditionally the strongest against the run in Foley Fatukasi sign on with the Jaguars then signed Solomon Thomas who ranked as the worst defender (109 of 109) against the run in the entire NFL according to PFF. Overall the Jets defensive tackles ranked at #105 (Thomas), #95 (Rankins), #78 (Nathan Shepherd) and #37 (Quinnen Williams). The Jets spent the offseason bringing in edge rushers and now have 8 on the roster (Lawson, Curry, Huff, Clemons, JFM, Johnson, Zuniga, Martin).
If the other team can simply run the ball down the Jets’ throats all day there is little reason to throw the ball so the edge rushers will be useless. If the team moves a safety into the box to help against the run, they now open themselves up for a splash play deep.
So what to do?
Quite frankly this should not have been a real hard problem to solve. You see, Sheldon Rankins should have been cut long ago. Rankins has a cap hit this year of $6,191,168, the problem is of that salary $750,000 has been already paid as a signing bonus and $1.5 million of his salary for this year became guaranteed on March 20th so if you cut Rankins now you take a $2.25 million dead cap hit.
The Jets could have replaced Rankins with Sheldon Richardson for far less money or brought in a Corey Peters (6’ 3” 335 lbs), Shamar Stephen (6’ 5” 309 lbs), or Antwaun Woods (6’ 1” 318 lbs). Now I guess we just hope Rankins plays better.
You have C. J. Mosley who came to the Jets via Mike (I’ll give you anything you want) Maccagnan on an insane $85 million contract. Mosley would have preferred to stay in Baltimore, but when Maccagnan opened the bank vault door Mosley couldn’t say no to enriching his family for at least the next 5 generations. Mosley is a good leader, but when you are being paid a king’s ransom it’s impossible to live up to such a contract.
Quincy Williams came to the Jets of the waiver wire from Jacksonville and was really a godsend at the time. The Jets had injuries (like always), and Williams did an effective job for a bargain basement price. The Jets will have to decide if they want to keep Quincy since his contract is up after the season.
Hamsah Nasirildeen is a former 6th round pick and a converted safety who has been penciled in as the weak side linebacker. He played in 12 games last year with 2 starts. He combined for a grand total of 10 tackles last year. That’s right. He is considered the starter. Behind him there are a number of players who will either be questionable backups or released at the final cutdown. So there is a need at linebacker.
There are plenty of players to choose from. The Jets had Kwon Alexander in for a visit because he knows how to play in Robert Saleh’s defense. He is a nice choice although he is very injury prone and hasn’t made it through an entire NFL season since 2016 when he was 22 years old. So the Jets may need to sign multiple linebackers if they want to field a competitive defensive unit. I realize the Jets want to see what they have in terms of young players. The problem is you have a bunch of 5th and 6th round picks in the current group so how much starting ability are you looking for?
The need is now. You can work some of the young players in at times during the year, but if you want a starter then you need to find someone who will make a difference, not a starry eyed kid who is just learning what to do in this defense. The Jets were scorched by the run last year so they need some people who can make plays. A lack of salary cap space may prove to be a problem in finding those players.
Here is another place where the Jets could use some depth. Last year Lamarcus Joyner lasted only a few snaps before he was out for the year. The Jets do have a lot of young players who could be special, but again you won’t know that until they play. Young people make mistakes so you have to live with the growing pains if you give them a bunch of snaps. There is no guarantee that any of them will develop into serviceable players. There is only hope. I don’t see the Jets doing much here with the limited funds and so many holes in other areas.
So there you have it, the Jets have a lot to accomplish with little time to do so. I’m sure Joe Douglas has thoughts in his head about all these issues and more. They can always bring in players who were cut from other teams, but that is not the way you build a winning franchise. You need to have players you can count on; the Jets are relying on a lot of young players who could be or not be starting type talents.
I know CJ Mosley has stated that this can be a playoff type team, but I think that is just wishful thinking. In reality I think Joe Douglas is looking to get some young kids some experience while he determines whether or not they are the future of the Jets. In the meantime you develop another year of experience for the QB and players like Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, Sauce Gardner, and Breece Hall all gain valuable rookie experience. The Jets may be a year away from being truly competitive, and they will need another bounty from the Draft to do so.
Joe got a 6 year contract for a reason so he is looking at a long view, or he would have filled a lot of the holes in the Jets already. We shall see, but the Jets should be much more competitive this year as they build towards the future.
Hey you never know. Things could just click and the Jets could be the talk of the NFL.