Jets Free Agency Reaction – One Week Later

Stephen Zantz offers his thoughts on Week 1 of Jets Free Agency.

The first week of free agency is officially in the books.  The Jets were active but not overly aggressive for some of the higher priced free agents. Some needs were filled but there are plenty of holes that remain on the current roster. I know this isn’t a finished product, but I wanted to provide my initial thoughts to the moves one week in.

Free agency is always an exciting time for Jets fans. Considering the lack of winning (11 years without making the playoffs), this is always a time for optimism. The Jets were flushed with a ton of cap space and a lot of needs to fill. Early on, Joe Douglas was very quiet when the legal tampering period opened.

The first move was signing Jarrad Davis of the Lions. He has a 1st round pedigree so there is some talent there. He has underwhelmed thus far in his short NFL career, but Robert Saleh may be able to give Davis a jolt to help him become a more productive player. This wasn’t an inspiring move, but it will provide some depth at LB.

Late Monday evening, the Jets struck a 3 year deal with former Titans receiver Corey Davis. Davis isn’t Kenny Golladay or Juju, but he certainly was an upgrade to receiver room that was desperately needed. Davis brings a physical presence (6’3) that will help the Jets in the redzone for goalline fades and quick slants. One of the best parts about Davis’ game is his ability to block down field. This isn’t what you are paying wide receivers big money to do but it helps in an immense way to create big plays down the field.

The Jets capped off day 1 with their biggest splash thus far in signing DE Carl Lawson away from the Bengals. It’s not secret the Jets have not had a consistent pass rush dating back to John Abraham. This could be massive step in helping change that. Lawson doesn’t have eye popping sack numbers throughout his career, but he has been one of the most disruptive defensive ends in football. He was only 2nd to TJ Watt in 2020 in total QB hurries. Sacks are important, but they can be a misleading stat as sometimes who you play with allows for numbers to go up. Provided he stays healthy, Lawson could be one of the best moves the Jets have made in FA in years.

As the Jets moved into day 2 there was some buzz around Juju and the Jets. This would have been a great move to help create a strong receiving corps. The lone move the Jets made on day 2 was signing CB Justin Hardee. Primarily a special teamer, Hardee is a nice piece to help Brant Boyer on punt coverage. Hardee is known for playing with a ton of passion and he says grit. He can quickly become a fan favorite if he makes big plays on specials.

Day 3 resulted in 3 signings. Keelan Cole, Dan Feeney, and Lamarcus Joyner all signed contracts with the Jets. Cole has spent his short NFL career with the Jaguars. He’s been productive when given an opportunity but isn’t a starting outside receiver. He gives size with his 6’1 frame. I’ll always remember Cole from this ridiculous catch against the Pats. I feel much more comfortable knowing Jeff and Vyncint Smith do not need to be relied upon with Cole taking over as WR4.

It’s no secret the interior of the OL needs to be upgraded, but when the Jets signed Dan Feeney, I was disappointed. Big time IOL like Joe Thuney and Corey Linsley signed elsewhere and the Jets got the worst center in football last year. I know he is a depth signing and isn’t penciled into start, but the Jets need good linemen not guys who can’t block. My hope is that someone like Trai Turner is signed this week to help address guard.

Lamarcus Joyner was an interesting signing but nothing to get excited about. The Jets will be Joyner’s third team in his 8-year NFL career. He’s a corner/safety hybrid and could see slot work if Ashtyn Davis takes a step in his development. Joyner isn’t someone who should be relied upon to start weekly but is a nice piece for a young secondary.

To cap off the first week, the Jets signed Tyler Kroft and Sheldon Rankins. Tyler Kroft knows the AFC East well coming over from the Buffalo Bills. He is known more for his blocking than his pass catching ability, so Ryan Griffin can be cut now. The Rankins move is more exciting version of the Jarrad Davis signing, as he is another former 1st round talent who has potential. The difference is Rankins has been productive when on the field, however he has been very injury prone through his 5-year career. The hope is that he can stay on the field and be a nice piece next to Quinnen and Lawson. Saleh is known for his great work with defensive linemen, so this new scheme could be beneficial for a player like Rankins.

Overall, there should not be any panic or overzealous joy by the fanbase. Douglas is taking a responsible approach in FA but definitely has had some misses. Would I have liked someone like Thuney or Keanu Neal? Of course. Are the lack of CB and IOL frustrating? Definitely. There is still a second wave of signings that will take place this week and the draft. The team is still in a rebuild but there needs to be progress in 2021. Hopefully someone like Richard Sherman signs a 1-year deal this week.