The free agents Joe Douglas and the New York Jets should look to avoid this March make up a considerable list.
Joe Thuney, Curtis Samuel, Allen Robinson, Trey Hendrickson and many more appear on the free-agent list the New York Jets may want to consider as targets this coming March. But what about the players ready to hit the open market who should be avoided entirely?
Remember, Joe Douglas isn’t the type of general manager who’ll go crazy in free agency while crafting clever terms such as “aggressive rebuild.” He intends on building this thing the correct way, which means through the draft, first and foremost.
Naturally, free agency still represents a piece of the building process—even for the responsible and value-driven front office boss. The six names the Jets should avoid on the open market this offseason are as follows:
James Conner, RB
Bell presented a couple of major problems at the time. Firstly, he was already too old. The casual football fan will look at 27 years of age and think that’s a player’s prime.
Not at running back. Not in this league. Running back is a young man’s game, and Bell’s advanced age was a serious issue.
Secondly, Bell’s presence behind a terrible Jets’ offensive line simply meant the organization burned money. Every bit of dough that went to Bell was a waste, courtesy of the team’s not-yet-ready-for-primetime infrastructure.
As it relates to free agent James Conner, both of the above ideas are considerations, but it’s even worse this time around. Conner will be 26 by the time the 2021 season starts, but it’s his availability that makes him a no-go.
The Pittsburgh product has never played a full 16-game season in three tries. Plus, his career 4.3 yards per carry doesn’t look as tremendous once it’s realized how great of an offensive line he ran behind for the majority of his time with the Steelers.
Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE
Jadeveon Clowney to the Jets has seemingly been a rumor since Dick “Night Train” Lane was playing in the league. Yet, it’s never happened and should remain that way.
Clowney will be 28 by the time the 2021 season starts. He failed to register even one sack in eight games for the Tennessee Titans last season. Two years ago in Seattle, he mustered just three sacks over the course of a full season.
Usually tremendous against the run, Clowney finished 23rd among all EDGE players against the run in 2020. He’s still a solid player, but the name recognition simply overvalues his services.
Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE
The fans couldn’t stop banging the drum for vocal Yannick Ngakoue last summer. Unhappy in Jacksonville, Ngakoue forced his way out of town and to the Minnesota Vikings.
Ngakoue tallied eight sacks a year ago while splitting time between Minnesota and Baltimore. But his 38th overall ranking at the position per PFF leaves a lot to be desired. Again, the name recognition may chip away at the value here.
Besides, personally, I’d rather not take on a guy who’s already demonstrated the willingness to do whatever it takes to get his way when other options exist (i.e. creating noise to get a ticket out of town).
Speaking of name recognition and value, here comes JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The TikTok “master” is set to hit the open market among the top wide receivers in the league. But exactly how good is this guy? Ranked 63rd by PFF for his work this past season suggests he’s not as good as his TikTok tykes think he might be.
Smith-Schuster’s 4.54-second 40-yard dash leaves a lot to be desired. So do his social media antics—something the Jets shouldn’t have to worry about when trying to build a program.
Will Fuller, WR
Will Fuller is an excellent wide receiver. Ranked ninth per PFF at the wide receiver position this past season, the man lit it up with Deshaun Watson throwing the ball.
Unfortunately, the man doesn’t always play.
Availability needs to be the Jets’ top consideration as it pertains to free agency and the NFL draft. They simply cannot go through another season of devastating injuries.
Fuller has never played a full 16-game slate in his entire five-year career. He racked up 879 yards and eight touchdowns in just 11 games this past season. But the fact that he’s dressed in just 53 games in five seasons (80 total games) makes his candidacy a non-starter.
Much like Fuller, Brandon Scherff is excellent at his position. But much like Fuller, the man can’t stay healthy enough.
Scherff has missed 18 games over the last four seasons. That’s one full season and another couple of games. Mega free-agent bucks just aren’t worth the investment here.
Scherff finished fourth per PFF at his position in 2020, but he also played 13 games total. It’s Scherff’s availability problems that should make Joe Thuney the New York Jets’ top free-agent target this offseason.