PrimeSport Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – Week 1 Jets Free Agency Review

Joe Caporoso with a Turn On The Jets 12 pack of thoughts on the New York Jets first week of free agency…

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1. Dont’a Hightower? – The news of the day is that the New York Jets are bidding against the New England Patriots for inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower. This is usually a situation to be wary of since Bill Belichick has sliced the league apart over the past two decades. However, remember that New England sets a price internally for every player and does not budge on it. The Jets may be able to beat that number and sway Hightower. This does mean Hightower is suddenly a bad player, just like Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins are not suddenly bad players. They just did not fit into what New England wants to do defensively at their requested price tag. The Jets are in a different situation than New England, obviously.

At 27 years old, Hightower is a logical fit for them. He can play all three downs and immediately step into a leadership role on the defense. It will also allow the jets to clear David Harris off the books. The Jets would be improving at inside linebacker and getting younger. It is going to be a big contract but this is part of what you cleared cap space for.

2. Kelvin Beachum – This wasn’t a surprising move by the Jets considering their gaping hole at left tackle and their familiarity with him from pursuit last offseason. I believe Ryan Clady was very much their fallback plan to obtaining Beachum last year. It took one extra year but they got it done. Beachum struggled last season in Jacksonville after flashing the previous few years as an ascending talent. The Jets are banking on his struggles being related to him coming off an ACL injury and that he can develop in their system, similar to James Carpenter, Brian Winters and Wesley Johnson. The Jets are now likely to have five starters on their offensive line be under 28 years old….not a bad thing, if Beachum can regain his old form.

3. Chandler Catanzaro – The usually steady Catanzaro had an ugly 2016 but somewhat similar to Beachum, the Jets are hoping he can regain his form in New York. Catanzaro won’t be handed the job and will need to beat out second year UDFA Ross Martin in camp. If he does win the job, he will bring a little more leg than Nick Folk and hopefully be a component of improved special teams play.

4. Housekeeping – The Jets were wise to bring back Wesley Johnson, Ben Ijalana, Corey Lemonier, Josh Martin and Marcus Williams. Williams may end up starting at corner and at worst is a solid depth player in the secondary with a nose for the football. Johnson will be the starting center. Ijalana is a solid backup offensive lineman with versatility. Martin is a key cog on special teams and Lemonier will compete to be a situational pass rusher.

5. Tony Jefferson – According to Jefferson he turned down more money from the Jets to pick Baltimore, obviously the Jets publicly refuted that…nobody knows exactly what happened and ultimately the Jets lost out on the player, which is all that matters. This is part of the rebuilding process. It is a challenge to sell yourself. There is no need to go into apologist mode. The Jets wanted Jefferson, like they wanted Oliver Vernon last year, but couldn’t close the deal. It happens. They now need to move to a contingency plan at safety because Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist aren’t getting it done. How about Bradley Mcdougald?

6. Nick Perry – The Jets were apparently in the hunt. Perry would have been an intriguing add that allowed Lorenzo Mauldin to be the situational player he should be. However, there is a few red flags with him: namely that he has never played more than 59% of the defensive snaps in a season and had one monster year (in his contract season), preceded by a handful of disappointing years. The Jets still need edge help but they may wait until the draft to make more additions there.

7. Corner – The Jets need another body here, unless they plan on starting Williams, Buster Skrine and Juston Burris. Brandon Carr is a rumored target but I’d be hesitant about adding a 30 year old who has had some inconsistencies in recent years. We’d need to see the money but the addition of Carr would lower the urgency of filling the need in the NFL Draft, although it should be a strong early round consideration for the team regardless.

8. Sheldon Richardson – A trade is still coming. Do the Jets use him in their pursuit of a quarterback, corner or just picks? Or a combination of both? I’d be stunned if Richardson was on the opening day roster this year.

9. Quarterback Options – Completely wide open right now, none of the following names would “stun” me: Jay Cutler, Geno Smith, Nick Foles, Chase Daniel, AJ McCarron, Trevor Siemian. A Twitter observation: Jets fans are wildly overrating McCarron.

10. Running Back – The Jets have visited with Travaris Cadey and Benny Cunningham. Both project as third stringer/special teamers, who can contribute in the passing game. I’d prefer Cadet, who is more explosive and familiar with new OC John Morton.

11. Andre Holmes – The Jets have also expressed interest in Holmes, who is a depth player that could potentially be useful in the red-zone. He is nothing but a veteran minimum contract though.

12. Roster Audit – The Jets seem to have a good grip on where they are right now in terms of roster structure. There is nothing wrong with sitting out on big spending in free agency. However, it is important to find a balance between not being overreactive and not being an apologist. This team hasn’t made the playoffs in six years. This regime has made plenty of mistakes. There has been more losing than winning so far but both Bowles and Maccagnan deserve a fair evaluation in year three.

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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