The Jets have made some big splash acquisitions to start the offseason, signing arguably the top available free agent for each side of the ball in Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley. They also traded for offensive guard Kelechi Osemele from the Oakland Raiders for a mid-round draft pick, and signed formidable slot receiver Jamison Crowder. This is an excellent start, but stopping here would be like buying a Porsche with no wheels. The Jets have about 40 million dollars remaining in cap space, and after cutting Isaiah Crowell on Thursday, that number will go up. There are still big needs for this team on both sides of the ball, but there is also great opportunity for the front office to fill needs without breaking the bank.
To start, signing Justin Houston would help solidify the Jets’ pass rush. It seems like he is being pursued by multiple teams, so this one may be tough, but considering his age, Houston is likely to only command a one or two-year deal. If that’s the case, Mike Maccagnan shouldn’t be afraid to throw him a decent chunk of money since he would be off the books in a season or two. After Anthony Barr had a change of heart, Houston would be a solid replacement to pair up with a potential draft pick like Josh Allen for the short-term.
Possibly the biggest hit to the Jets remaining cap space will come at the cornerback position. With Jason Verrett and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix signing one-year deals on Thursday, the crop is thinning, but two names that stand out are Bryce Callahan and Ronald Darby. Callahan would fill the Jets need for a slot corner, but it would likely take a lucrative multi-year deal to bring him in, something I’m not sure that the Jets will do. That being said, he’s coming off his most productive season in Chicago and is entering his prime years, so in Gang Green’s situation, it might be worth the price tag. Darby’s situation is much different. He is more of an outside corner as opposed to slot, but still something the Jets could benefit from having. He’s coming off an ACL injury, but was very good when healthy, so it’s unclear what he’ll command on the open market. While the aforementioned Jason Verrett would’ve been a great fit in New York, it may have been a blessing in disguise that he signed elsewhere on a cheap one year contract. Verrett is another corner with exceptional talent, but also been prone to injuries. His contract may have set the market for Darby, making him a more than affordable option for the Jets.
With Le’Veon Bell signing and Sam Darnold being a young quarterback, the next logical step to improving the offense is to sure up the offensive line. The Osemele trade was a huge step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done. The experienced and versatile Josh Sitton was recently cut from the Dolphins and would be a tremendous lineman to have. He’s in his early 30’s, so there shouldn’t be much of an issue meeting his asking price. Other viable options include John Sullivan and Stefen Wisniewski, two linemen who have been significant parts of offensive lines for successful teams in the past.
The Jets receiving corps is filled with solid complimentary players. While that is vital to have, trading for A.J. Green, a bona-fide playmaker to balance the offense with Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, would change the landscape of the team. This one may seem like a longshot, but when broken down, it’s realistic and makes a ton of sense for both sides. Green is entering the last season of his four-year, 60 million dollar deal with the Bengals. He’ll be 31 by the start of next season and it’s unclear whether he’ll stay with the team when his contract expires. With the Steelers, Ravens and Browns all seemingly ahead of the Bengals in their division, it would be smart to trade Green while they can. While the Jets draft picks are very important this year, the chances of them landing a player as impactful as Green are low after their first round pick. Considering the Raiders only gave up third and fifth round draft selections to get Antonio Brown, a receiver the same age as Green with higher production and less injury concern, this trade is more than possible. A late round pick in this year’s draft combined with a mid-rounder in next year’s draft could be enough to drastically improve the Jets offense.