The New York Jets FINALLY ended the Adam Gase era 20 minutes after they returned to New Jersey following a loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough. General Manager Joe Douglas now enters his first (and what will, hopefully, be his last) coaching search as he tries to end the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
The Jets have already requested interviews with Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus (fresh off coaching a Colts defense that finished top 10 in points allowed and yards allowed) and Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy (fresh off coaching a Chiefs offense that finished first in yards and sixth in points scored). They have recently requested to interview Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll. They are also expected to request permission to interview Titans Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith in what promises to be an extensive and lengthy search. In this breakdown, I give you version one of my dream offseason (this will be my preferred offseason, unless Matt Campbell really does interview for the job). I will give you free agency signings, draft picks, trades, and all that jazz (using Fanspeak’s excellent simulator). Let’s turn on the jets…
Step One: Hire The Right Coach
Hire Don “Wink” Martindale to be the new Head Coach: the Ravens’ defense has finished in the top 10 in both points allowed and yards allowed every year since Wink Martindale took over for the great Dean Pees as the leader of the vaunted Ravens defense. After serving as the Ravens’ Linebackers coach, he was promoted to Defensive Coordinator and the Ravens’ defense improved from Pees’s last year. Wink was with Baltimore with Joe Douglas for three years, though some Jets fans have wondered how much interaction a LB Coach and someone in the front office would have.
Step Two: Build Wink’s Staff like this
Offensive Coordinator: Clemson RB Coach Tony Elliott
Defensive Coordinator: Former Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis
Special Teams Coach: Bears Assistant Special Teams Coach Brian Ginn
Quarterbacks: Former Colts & Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs: Former Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn
Wide Receivers: Steelers Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Blaine Stewart
Tight Ends: Ravens Assistant Tight Ends Coach Andy Bischoff
Offensive Line Coach: Cowboys Assistant Offensive Line Coach Jeff Blasko
Defensive Line Coach: Jets Defensive Line Coach Andre Carter
Linebackers Coach: 49ers Inside Linebackers Coach Demeco Ryans
Secondary Coach: Ravens Pass Defense Coordinator Chris Hewitt
Tony Elliott has been in each of my dream offseasons in which the Jets have had a chance to hire a coach; Elliot has had a hand in developing some of the best offenses in college football over the last few years and is an innovative play caller. With the Jets slated to pick 2nd and most likely taking a QB, Offensive Coordinator will be Martindale’s most important hire. The 2nd most important hire is who will run his defense, and I think leaning on a former Head Coach who has always had very good defenses in Marvin Lewis is a very good way to go. Adding two more former Head Coaches in the newly-fired Anthony Lynn and former Colts and Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell to his coaching staff to pair with Tony Elliott really allows for Martindale to be the Head Coach. As our Connor Rogers stated on the last episode of Badlands, there isn’t any doubt that Martindale can command a team but his staff is going to be so crucial to how successful he is. Hewitt and Bischoff are guys that Martindale is familiar with, and coaches often bring one or two of those guys with them. Bischoff could go a long way towards unlocking Chris Herndon’s potential like he’s done for Mark Andrews, and Hewitt’s role in developing Marlon Humphrey bodes well for Bryce Hall and whatever cornerback I aim to add for the Jets in this offseason. Stealing Blasko from Dallas and Stewart from the Steelers by offering them promotions allows Martindale to further accelerate the development of their young cornerstones (Becton and Mims). Once this move is made, I can move to the next round of decisions: who won’t be around to witness the renaissance that Wink Martindale will lead?
Beginning of League Year
Cap Space before cuts: $86.6M
Trade QB Sam Darnold to the Washington Football Team for their 2nd round pick and 5th round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a 2022 4th Rounder that becomes a 3rd rounder if Sam Darnold re-signs
This is the first major domino to fall for the Jets, as it closes the door on the Adam Gase era. It gives the WFT a chance to find their franchise QB while having Sam compete versus veteran QB Alex Smith before they have to decide whether he deserves a new contract. The following moves are pretty straightforward, in my opinion:
DE Henry Anderson (saves $8.2M)
OG Alex Lewis (saves $5.3M)
OG Greg Van Roten (saves $3.2M)
TE Trevon Wesco (saves $2.2M)
WR Jamison Crowder (saves $10.5M)
With these six moves (the trade of Darnold and the 5 releases), the Jets enter the start of the league year with a whopping $116.2M in cap space. This is before we get to who they bring back, which I think is really only one player before they hit the free agency market:
S Marcus Maye (4 years/$44M with $22M guaranteed, uses $8M of cap space)
Keeping Maye, the leader of this defense, is a good move by Joe Douglas. With a returning CJ Mosley and the emergence of Quinnen Williams, the Jets have their three best defensive players for the 2021 season. We now move on to players Joe Douglas and Wink Martindale target in free agency, where I predict they will be very active this offseason:
Entering Free Agency: $108.5M in cap space
Free Agent Signings
EDGE Bud Dupree (4 years/$68M/$40.8M guaranteed): 39.5 career sacks, coming off ACL injury
WR Allen Robinson (5 years/$100M/$60M guaranteed): back to back 1000+ yard seasons
OG Joe Thuney (4 years/$76M/60.8M guaranteed): 2019 All-Pro & was Douglas’s top target last year
CB Jimmy Smith (2 years/$24M/19.2M guaranteed): veteran cornerback who knows Martindale’s system
TE Zach Ertz (3 years/$30M/$21M guaranteed): veteran TE who Douglas is familiar with
RB Marlon Mack (3 years/$27M/$16.2M guaranteed): veteran RB, averages 4.4 YPC for his career
QB Blaine Gabbert (2 years/$16M/$10.8M guaranteed: backup QB for your rookie QB
OG Pat Elflein (1 year/$7M/$7M guaranteed): played well after he was claimed, returns after hitting market
Cap Space after Free Agency: $34M
Depth Chart Entering the NFL Draft:
QB: Blaine Gabbert, James Morgan
RB: Marlon Mack, Ty Johnson, Lamical Perine
WR: Allen Robinson, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios
TE: Zach Ertz, Chris Herndon
OT: Mehki Becton, George Fant
OG: Joe Thuney, Pat Elflein
C: Connor McGovern
DL: Quinnen Williams, John Franklyn Myers
DT: Foley Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd
OLB: Bud Dupree, Bryce Huff
ILB: CJ Mosley
CB: Jimmy Smith, Bryce Hall
S: Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis
Entering the NFL Draft, we have: picks 2, 27 (from Seattle for Adams), 34, 51 (from WFT for Darnold), 66, 91 (from Seattle for Adams), 98, 114 (from WFT for Darnold), 130, 140 (from the Giants for Williams), 173 (from New England for Thomas). I fully expect Joe Douglas to move around the board to not just add talent this year but to set himself up to have more picks next year. I think he sets the record for most draft trades this year.
*note that some numbers will change once the NFL awards comp picks and once the playoffs finish*
TRADE: while on the clock, the New York Jets trade the 2nd pick overall to the Miami Dolphins for the 3rd, 18th, and 50th picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets now have the 3rd, 18th, and 27th picks in the first round.
With the 3rd pick overall, the New York Jets select Ohio State QB Justin Fields.
TRADE: while on the clock at 18, the Jets trade the 18th and 161st picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts for the 22nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a 2022 2nd round pick.
TRADE: while on the clock at 22, the Jets trade the 22nd pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 28th pick and a 2022 2nd round pick.
TRADE: while on the clock at 27, the Jets trade the 27th pick and the 137th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Los Angeles Rams for the 53rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the Rams’s 2022 first.
TRADE: while on the clock at 28, the Jets trade the 28th pick and the 172nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Buffalo Bills for the 30th and 93rd picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With the 30th pick overall, the New York Jets select Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman
TRADE: while on the clock at 34, the Jets trade the 34th and 97th picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Houston Texans for the 67th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the Texans’s first rounder in 2022.
TRADE: while on the clock at 50, the Jets trade the 50th and 146th picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Detroit Lions for the 72nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and Detroit’s 2nd rounder in 2022.
With the 51st pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Stanford CB Paulson Adebo
With the 53rd pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select North Dakota State OT Dillon Radunz
TRADE: while on the clock at 66, the Jets trade the 66th pick and the 129th pick in this draft to the Jaguars for the 96th and 116th pick in this draft and the Jaguars’s 3rd rounder in 2022.
With the 67th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Oregon State EDGE Hamilcar Rashed, Jr.
TRADE: while on the clock at 72, the Jets trade the 72nd and 217th picks in this draft to the Arizona Cardinals for the 79th pick in this draft and the Cardinals’s 4th rounder in 2022.
With the 79th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Oklahoma OC Creed Humphrey
TRADE: while on the clock at 90, the Jets trade the 90th pick and SF’s 2022 6th to the Tennessee Titans for picks 119 and 150 in this drat and the Titans’s 4th rounder in 2022.
With the 93rd pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Tennessee OG Trey Smith
With the 96th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Florida State DT Marvin Wilson
With the 116th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Virginia LB Charles Snowden
With the 119th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Miami S Bubba Bolden
With the 150th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson
With all this movement, the Jets will enter the 2021 season with $29M in cap space that can be rolled over to the following year. They will, also, have added NINE 2022 draft picks. The breakdown would be, as follows:
First Round: their own, plus the Seahawks, Rams, and Texans first round picks (4).
Second Round: their own, plus the Colts, Steelers, and Lions second round picks (4).
Third Round: their own third, plus the Jaguars’s third round pick & WFT’s 3rd rounder if Darnold re-signs (2 definite, 3 possible).
Fourth Round: WFT, Cardinals, and Titans’s fourth round picks (3).
Fifth Round: their own, plus the Steelers’s 5th rounder from the Avery Williamson trade & WFT’s 5th if Darnold doesn’t re-sign (2 definite, 3 possible).
Sixth Round: their own (1)
Seventh Round: their own plus the Bucs’s 7th rounder from the Steve McClendon trade (2).
That’s right: the Jets would not only have almost $30M in cap space to roll over to their projected 4th highest cap space in 2022, but they will also have 18 definite picks in the 2022 draft including 10 in the top 100. Their depth chart post-draft would look as follows (* denotes rookie):
QB: Justin Fields*, Blaine Gabbert, James Morgan
RB: Marlon Mack, Ty Johnson, Lamical Perine, Jaret Patterson*
WR: Allen Robinson, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Rashad Bateman*
TE: Zach Ertz, Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin
OT: Mehki Becton, George Fant, OT Dillon Radunz*
OG: Joe Thuney, Pat Elflein, Trey Smith*
C: Connor McGovern, Creed Humphrey*
DL: Quinnen Williams, John Franklyn Myers
DT: Foley Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Marvin Wilson*
OLB: Bud Dupree, Bryce Huff, Hamilcar Rashad Jr.*
ILB: CJ Mosley, Charles Snowden*
CB: Jimmy Smith, Bryce Hall, Paulson Adebo*
S: Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis, Bubba Bolden*
This draft class nets you your potential franchise QB, who walks into a scenario where his offensive line is fortified not only with starters but with three young pieces that can replace Fant, McGovern, and Elflein in 2022. He, also, walks into a scenario with a bonafide stud in Allen Robinson and two young WRs for him to grow with in Mims and Bateman. This after he was already given a veteran TE in Zach Ertz and a young TE in Chris Herndon. Lastly, Justin Fields gets to have a solid running game with the potential to have more added with the absurd draft capital Douglas has accrued here.
On defense, you steal Marvin Wilson to man the middle of your 4-3 defense. Charles Snowden could be the heir apparent to CJ Mosley, or just good depth to have as he learns behind the former All-Pro. Adding Dupree on defense may seem like a risk, but you add a high ceiling edge in Rashad Jr., who you hope locks down one of the other OLB positions. Signing Jimmy Smith lets you bring Paulson Adebo along slowly and also lets you play three corner looks where Bryce Hall could slide inside. Bubba Bolden gives you the third safety in three safety looks that Marvin Lewis likes to run on defense.
This is the one, Jets fans. This offseason makes you a threat to the new bully in the AFC East.