New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has decided to completely clean house in his second offseason as the boss.
Suddenly, Marcus Maye is “The Rock.” No, he won’t be asking you to smell what he’s cooking. Rather, he’s suddenly the rock of an organization when experience is highlighted.
While it’s true that NFL rosters endure an insane amount of turnaround, Maye representing that guy is an astounding sign for what’s occurred over the last two offseasons.
Joe Douglas has cleaned house. Maye, the aforementioned rock, arrived in 2017. Barely edging out Thomas Hennesey, a man whose veteran status in the NFL stretches just five seasons, is the Jets longest-tenured player.
Does anybody still wonder if Douglas is eager to put a complete end to the Mike Maccagnan era?
Jenkins is gone, as is Tarell Basham, who recently agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys. Not only are the two losses significant from an on-field edge-rushing standpoint, but the narrative surrounding the moves runs deeper.
Just two short years ago, the two Jets who got the locker-room party started are no longer around. The top party starter was Jamal Adams, whose locker fit in nicely with his fellow defensive backs. On the other side of the room was Basham, the man who often controlled the music.
Then there’s Jenkins, a veteran leader who took home the local beat’s Good Guy Award in 2019. He’s gone too. Not even leaders are safe under Douglas’s strict eye.
This roster will have to allow new leaders to emerge in addition to building it for victories.
Depth chart evaluation
New York Jets' updated depth chart:
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) March 20, 2021
Where’s the beef?
It doesn’t look pretty on the surface. Missing on Joe Thuney early set a tone for the rest of free agency—one that cannot be corrected until the 2021 NFL draft arrives.
No Thuney or Corey Linsley means the Jets haven’t improved in the middle of the offensive line. Bookends Mekhi Becton and George Fant are both productive and talented enough to call the tackle situation above-average (save for injuries).
Rumor has it that Douglas was in on Thuney. That’s at least the conventional wisdom in the ether since the New England Patriots slapped a late franchise tag on him last offseason. But we truly don’t know.
Remember who Douglas is as a general manager: The man is always after value.
Considering the Jets hold the No. 23 and 34 picks in the upcoming draft, one of them will most likely be used on an interior offensive lineman. Whether it’s Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis or USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, the Jets are in line to select the top IOL on the board.
With that youngster comes an affordable deal at a position nobody wants to spend big on. Cornerback, edge rusher and offensive tackle all qualify as premium big-money spots, but guard (and even center) is a spot better left drafted for many general managers.
While the interior of the offensive line remains an issue, linebacker and cornerback need to be classified under a “state of emergency” category. Keanu Neal deciding to join former head coach Dan Quinn in Dallas means the team has just four players for three spots in the base defense.
Worse yet, C.J. Mosley hasn’t played in two years. Expecting anything from Mosley after two seasons away from the game would be foolhardy. Jarrad Davis and Blake Cashman currently plug-in as the de facto SAM and WILL, respectively.
At cornerback, a similar story has unfolded. Justin Hardee shouldn’t be counted on as a corner at this moment. He’s a special teams ace and a damn good signing, but the position has currently regressed since Week 17, as Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet remain free agents.
The safety position, wide receiver and tight end have all improved. While I would have preferred Curtis Samuel—as the Jets desperately need an X-Factor-type who can assume jet-motion duties and even take a handoff or two—Corey Davis has all the talent in the world.
The only aspect of a Davis, Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder trio is that none of the three can be that jet-motion guy. Braxton Berrios is still that guy on the depth chart. Keelan Cole, a kid who ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash prior to the combine, isn’t even that guy.
Tight end is improved thanks to Tyler Kroft’s presence. What should excite fans most is the idea that Douglas is targeting offensive players who can block.
Davis and Cole are good blockers at their position, but Kroft is next level. This past season, Kroft ranked in the 93rd percentile when standing straight up.
Tyler Kroft will greatly boost the blocking of a #Jets TE group that has been pushed around for years.@Michael_Nania with numbers and film on Kroft's usage, blocking ability, and receiving impact: https://t.co/X96RNQWXrN pic.twitter.com/H4kMWQ8aUY
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) March 20, 2021
The little things go a long way, and that, of course, includes blocking from all available players on the field.
Lastly, and bviously, nobody knows what the future holds at the quarterback and running back position. Perhaps the quarterback uncertainty is the most familiar thing for Jets fans at the moment.