Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – Week 1 Jets Free Agency Grades

Welcome back to another edition of the Turn On The Jets 12 Pack. Make sure to check out our store at The Loyalist! and to subscribe to the TOJ podcast (hit us with a rating!)

Breaking down the Jets first wave of transactions this offseason so far on the always reliable “Love, Like, Meh, Hate” (with one ‘whatever’ to boot) scale, with a justification for each, along with a look at what they still need to do…

1 – Jets Sign RB Le’Veon Bell to 4 year, 52.5 million dollar contract 

Love: I installed myself as the driver of the Le’Veon to the Jets bandwagon over the past few months with incessant tweeting, podcasts and articles on why it was a no brainer for the Jets…and that was under the assumption he’d get between 15-17 million per year. This was a move the Jets had to make with their available resources and they closed the deal. Bell will make Sam Darnold better in the short and long term and become the best skill position player in the organization since Curtis Martin.

2 – Jets Pick Swap for OG Kelechi Osemele

Love: My favorite part of this transaction is that the Jets were proactive in a weak offensive guard market, which was basically Roger Saffold and a bunch of nobodies. They didn’t take the risk of allowing a position of weakness (guard) to get even weaker by preemptively taking a swing on Osemele for the cost of moving back a negligible amount of picks. Osemele probably won’t be the player he was in 2016 but he also probably won’t be the player he was last year, even if he nets somewhere safely in the middle it will be a substantial upgrade over James Carpenter and make life easier for Darnold and Bell.

3 – Jets Sign WR Jamison Crowder to 3 year, 28.5 million dollar contract

Love: I am predisposed to offensive additions in an offensive dominated league and anything that directly helps Sam Darnold. The Jets needed another starting receiver and Crowder or Adam Humphries were the two smartest investments on the market and the Jets landed one of them. Crowder has a skill set that is a logical fit with Adam Gase’s offense and will create more flexibility for Quincy Enunwa’s usage. The Jets needed playmakers and Crowder fits the bill. He has been healthy in 3 of his 4 NFL seasons so the injury concerns are a bit overstated.

4 – Jets Sign ILB CJ Mosley to 5 year, 85 million dollar contract

Between Meh and Like: Mosley is one of the best, if not the best, inside linebacker in the NFL. The Jets reset the market at the position with his contract which pays out 51 million over the first three years with no clean out. Any question about this deal is not about Mosley’s ability as a football player, he is great at his job, but rather a question of resource allocation to an inside linebacker in an increasingly offensive dominated, pass happy league while neglecting edge rusher and corner (so far). Teams are going to spread the Jets out and try to get Mosley and Avery Williamson in space. It is on Gregg Williams to ensure they aren’t hung out to dry. The best thing for the Jets with this deal is that it is a high floor transaction. This won’t be a Trumaine Johnson situation, Mosley will be a top three player at his position next year. Will he be in three years? We’ll find out.

5 – Jets Sign DE Henry Anderson to 3 year 25.2 million dollar contract

Meh: Anderson was the team’s best defensive lineman last year, taking on double teams more than Leonard Williams and still out producing him. He also stayed healthy for all 16 games for the first time in his four year NFL career. In the three years prior, Anderson only played in 29 of 48 possible games. The Jets are paying Anderson as a top 12 3-4 defensive end in the NFL and betting last season was not an outlier for his health. I’m a “meh” because I am of the belief that you can generally always find players who do what Anderson does, at a relatively low impact position. The Jets just did it last year by trading only a 7th round pick for him. It is a risk investing that he will replicate 2018 from a health and productivity standpoint.

6 – Jets Sign WR Josh Bellamy to 2 year, 7 million dollar contract

Whatever: A reminder that Bellamy is a not returner but just a special teams coverage guy and backup receiver. The Jets paid him well for that role but had special teams gaps to fill with Terrence Brooks, Kevin Pierre-Louis and likely Brandon Copeland leaving via free agency. He is a fine as a 5th receiver and a guy who plays on all your special teams units.

7 – Jets Sign CB Daryl Roberts to 3 year, 18 million dollar contract

Between Meh and Like: I like Roberts as a fourth corner, who has occasional spot duty starting. From this contract, it appears the Jets may think Roberts is capable of being a full time starter opposite of Trumaine Johnson which would be a risky bet. Corners are going to be frequently left on an island in Gregg Williams’ scheme and having Johnson/Roberts as your top two options on the outside is dangerous. I like this signing only Roberts ends up as CB4 and not CB2.

8 – Jets Sign CB Brian Poole to 1 year, 3.5 million dollar contract

Between Meh and Like: A replacement for Buster Skrine at slot corner. Poole is basically a younger, bigger version of him. He is noted for his ability to blitz and tackle while struggling with consistency in coverage and penalties. Slot corner is a tough spot to play and fill in the NFL. The Jets did a reasonable job here slightly improving their situation but need to stay aggressive at improving at corner in the NFL Draft and later tiers of free agency.

9 – Jets Sign NT Steve McLendon to 1 year, 2.5 million dollar contract:

Like: McLendon is a very good at his job as a two down run stuffer and this is reasonable money for that role and a player of his age. It remains surprising that the Jets didn’t transition from McLendon to Mike Pennel (or at least keep Pennel around to eventually take the job from him, considering how low cost he was). Pennel signed with the Patriots, meaning the Jets will count on Foley Fatukasi to back up McLendon.

10 – Jets Sign ILB Neville Hewitt and K Chandler Catanzaro, Let Andre Roberts, Jason Myers, Terrence Brooks, Kevin Pierre-Louis Walk: 

TBD: Special teams players are generally replaceable so the Jets not going insane to keep every key member of their top ranked ST unit last year is not surprising. It is surprising they all of them go though, including their kicker, kick returner, player who netted the most snaps (Brooks, also now in New England) and a guy who blocked two punts last year. The Jets are betting on Brant Boyer who was great last year but below average the two years before. Crowder should be fine as a punt returner and Catanzaro was competent for the Jets in 2017 but has been shaky in the other years around that.

11 – Jets Sign C Jonotthan Harrison to 2 year, 6 million dollar contract: 

Between Meh and Like: Similar to the Roberts deal. Harrison is a “like” if he is the top backup at center and guard but a “meh” if the Jets plan to make him their starting center. The position is too critical for the Jets to install a journeyman holdover in the role and it remains surprising/confusing they were not involved in going after Mitch Morse or Matt Paradis.

12 – What’s Left? 

Yes, the NFL Draft is still on the way but it is still kind of amazing considering the list of edges who were allegedly available in January, that the Jets have not signed a single one. It is equally surprising they haven’t made more additions to their offensive line, particularly at the interior positions. The Jets still have somewhere between 40-50 million in cap space so their shopping on the second tier of free agency will be critical. Their most immediate needs are edge, cornerback, offensive line and to a lesser extent depth at tight end and defensive line.

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