TOJ Roundtable – New York Jets Roster Building Edition

The TOJ staff discusses the New York Jets approach to free agency

The Turn On The Jets Roundtable is back to debate issues surrounding the New York Jets. Make sure to give all of the writers a follow on Twitter and if there is a question you want to see us debate, leave it in the comment section!

What did you think of the New York Jets approach to free agency in March and what transactions, if any, do you expect in April?

Joe Caporoso The Jets conservative approach has left many fans flabbergasted about what is going through John Idzik’s head. Personally, I’m not shocked by the Jets cautious and judicious approach. There seems to be a genuine desire to build through the NFL Draft and keep financial flexibility to keep homegrown talent in place. It is a “sexy” or headline grabbing approach but the hope is that it can build sustained success. 

As for the specific moves, Eric Decker provides a needed, immediate upgrade to the team’s group of receivers. He was arguably the best offensive free agent available the Jets locked him up for fair money. Decker will make a noticeable difference for Geno Smith and the pass catchers playing opposite of him. Breno Giacomini is roughly the same player as Austin Howard for half the price. After losing Howard, returning Willie Colon became a must to keep as much consistency as possible and the Jets got that done, along with bringing Leger Douzable (a very underrated player), Calvin Pace, Nick Folk and Jeff Cumberland back. Jacoby Ford has potential to be a dynamic returner and offer some big play ability to a depth receiver spot. Dimitri Patterson isn’t a flashy addition but when healthy is a competent NFL corner who will provide needed depth.

Where have I been disappointed? The Jets need another cornerback and a tight end. My understanding is that they believed they had an inside track for Vontae Davis, who ultimately just used them to leverage more money from the Colts. After that, they had no interest in bringing Antonio Cromartie back or guaranteeing money or years to a player as inconsistent as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The failure to execute a Plan B so far has been concerning. I’m a big Darrin Walls fan but another more proven veteran is needed in case he struggles or if Dee Milliner can’t stay healthy again. At tight end, my gut says the Jets are going to add one in the first or second round (watch Jace Amaro) but a blocking option at the position is still needed.

I think the Jets will sign RB Chris Johnson in April and swing another trade either before or during the NFL Draft, either for a corner or a wide receiver. Overall, I still believe the roster will look a fair bit different for week 1 than it does right now.

Connor Rogers –  The New York Jets took a conservative approach to free agency these past few weeks, frustrating much of the fan base. The media has been critical of general manager John Idzik, who has shown he will not overpay for free agents he has hopes of bringing in.

While I am a fan of Idzik’s approach and feel the draft is key, I would be lying if I told you I was content with the Jets free agency moves so far. Adding Eric Decker was a great move, along with Breno Giacomini to replace Austin Howard. Re-signing Legar Douzable and many other key depth players were nice, under the radar moves.

Where Idzik has failed is solidifying the CB1 spot, arguably the most important position in Rex Ryan’s defense. The cornerback market was extremely deep and the Jets watched many get scooped up while they sat back and watched.

They apparently whiffed on Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. While there were very little specifics to report on Davis’ negotiations, the Jets apparently made an 11th hour offer to DRC. Idzik had apparently wanted DRC on an incentive based, “prove it deal.” DRC most likely laughed, walked over to the Giants facility, and took their much higher five year offer.

While I was not crazy about DRC, it is the way this has played out that is disappointing. The Jets should have plugged a key free agent in this spot before DRC was the last option. Alterraun Verner was given an extremely reasonable deal from Tampa Bay ($6.5 mil per), while the Patriots snagged Brandon Browner for $3.5 mil per.

Overall, I was happy with the moves Idzik did make. My one disappointment was clearly at the cornerback position, which looks extremely thin at the moment.

April should be relatively quiet. The free agent market has thinned and the draft is quickly approaching. The one key name to keep an eye on is Titans running back Chris Johnson, who could be released as early as this week. He should draw plenty of interest from the Jets to form a speed/power duo with Chris Ivory.

Cole Patterson – With a month of free agency in the books, the New York Jets are a better team than they were (though not as good as they could be). The additions of Eric Decker and Breno Giacomini on reasonable contracts improved positions of need. Resigning Colon, Douzable, Cumberland, and Pace keeps players with knowledge of the playbook in house and allows for a more flexible draft strategy. Signing Jacoby Ford and Dimitri Patterson are sound, depth moves in the same vein as the Colon and Garay signings last season; low risk, middling reward. Even cutting Sanchez, Holmes, and Cromartie is addition by subtraction in that the team is now more fiscally sound.

That being said, Idzik has whiffed on some serious opportunities to improve the roster. He should not have put all his cornerback eggs in the Vontae Davis basket. Yes, Davis was the better fit but Verner would still have been a major upgrade in the secondary and at an astoundingly low price. After missing out early, Idzik could have brought Cromartie back. Clearly, the team has little faith in his ability to return to form but he could not have performed much worse than last year and, at only $3.5 million, would have come cheap. Instead, the Jets now have a gaping hole at cornerback that they will most likely address with an early pick in the draft. Fans will attack Idzik for passing on DeSean Jackson and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie but the guaranteed money promised to both is ludicrous for such hot and cold, red-flagged players.

I don’t expect much movement in April as Idzik appears to be relying on the draft to add talent to the roster. That being said, he would be wise to part with a late 4th or 5th round selection for Denarius Moore. Moore is an explosive deep threat and would immediately start opposite Decker. His presence would upgrade the offense and allow more flexibility in the draft.

Dalbin Osorio – I actually love the Eric Decker signing. He was arguably the best offensive player on the market, so locking him up early was great. I, also, think resigning as many of their own free agents as the Jets did was a step in the right direction. I was surprised that the Jets didn’t bring back Antonio Cromartie, and so that brings the March signings grade down for me. All in all, it could’ve been better had they resigned Cro but I do like what Idzik did in March. The approach was a patient and prudent one, and I think Idzik executed his vision.

In April, here’s what I think is going to happen: I think the Jets will sign Chris Johnson, Rich Ohrnberger, and Ed Dickson. I think the Jets will, also, trade a 5th rounder for Raiders Wide Receiver Denarius Moore. I, also, think the Jets (once they acquire Moore) will trade Stephen Hill. These moves will allow the Jets to enter the draft with a clearer focus as to who they should target.

TJ Rosenthal –  Wait, the Jets HAVE an approach to free agency? I’m not convinced they even know that it started yet. In all seriousness the plan is clear. Get as many athletes in May at the draft as possible. Forget Darrelle Revis, Desean Jackson and others whose talent level was a rung below. It ain’t happening.

Nothing will get in the way of Lord Idzik’s master plan. Aside from Eric Decker, other vets acquired fill around the edges and will continue to do so. Expect nothing major happening until draft day where trading up and down, in and out of rounds may be what Idzik has in store.

Michael O’Connor –  I find it difficult to complain about how a team has done in Free Agency before the players acquired or lost get a chance to prove if they’ll pan out.  Besides, I do like the patience John Idzik brings.  He avoids overpaying for big names and swiftly avoids the undertoe of the cap in doing so, and he signs quality role players for cheap.  He builds his team mostly through drafts, and I like the idea that he spent considerable money on Eric Decker, since WR couldn’t go on with the empty depth it was beforehand.  Though I hated how he sidestepped Austin Howard, I couldn’t tell you how Breno Giacomini will play as his replacement.  We’ll see, but the approach is one that is safe and effective overall.

Judging by his patient approach, I wouldn’t expect any more Free Agents of note to be signed until the draft.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports