Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz is just one of 10 impending free agents the New York Jets fan should watch closely
With three NFL playoff games set to take place on the Sunday of Wild Card weekend, there are plenty of soon-to-be free agents who will take center stage under the national spotlight. Many of them could be prime targets for the New York Jets.
Here are some impending free agents Jets fans should focus on when watching Sunday’s games.
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen (Jersey No. 66)
Ryan Jensen is one of the NFL’s more well-known centers thanks to his distinct hair, tenacious playstyle, and contribution to a Super Bowl winner, but he is also worthy of recognition for being one of the league’s flat-out best performers at the position.
Although Jensen will turn 31 before the 2022 season begins, he should remain a highly-coveted free agent. He has gone five consecutive seasons without missing a start and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 11th-best center out of 33 qualifiers in 2021.
Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (Jersey No. 24)
Carlton Davis is questionable for Sunday’s game with a back injury but is expected to play.
Davis, who just turned 25 on Dec. 31, should be one of the most sought-after cornerbacks on the market. He leads the NFL with 49 passes defended since 2019 despite missing 11 games over that span.
Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead (Jersey No. 33)
Jordan Whitehead will turn 25 years old in March. He can struggle with missed tackles, but Whitehead had a very good season in coverage this year, allowing the eighth-fewest yards per reception among safeties (8.8).
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys
49ers guard Laken Tomlinson (Jersey No. 75)
Laken Tomlinson had another strong season in 2021 as he earned PFF’s fifth-best overall grade among left guards (76.0). He ranked fourth in 2020.
Jets offensive line coach John Benton worked with Tomlinson in San Francisco from 2017-20. Tomlinson was a disappointing first-round pick over his first two years in the NFL with the Lions but turned his career around after joining Benton and the 49ers in 2017. He’ll turn 30 in February.
New York has its left guard of the future in Alijah Vera-Tucker, but there is uncertainty at the right guard spot with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif hitting free agency. The idea behind pursuing a guard would be to fill that spot on the right side.
Tomlinson started at right guard throughout his college career and has played a handful of reps there in the NFL.
49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones (Jersey No. 93)
D.J. Jones tied for first among interior defensive linemen with 35 run stops in 2021. He’s proven he can stop the run as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, making him the exact type of player the Jets need.
Jones played under Jets head coach Robert Saleh in San Francisco from 2017-20. He will turn 27 later this month.
Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (Jersey No. 86)
Dalton Schultz is the perfect Jets free agent target. He’s a high-end receiver and blocker at the tight end position, killing two birds in one stone for a Jets offense that badly needs to improve at tight end. Schultz will only be 26 once the 2021 season begins.
Cowboys guard Connor Williams (Jersey No. 52)
We’ll see two of the game’s best left guards in this one. Ranking one spot ahead of Laken Tomlinson as PFF’s fourth-ranked left guard was Connor Williams with a 76.4 grade. He’ll be just 25 years old in May.
Williams has played a little bit of right guard in the NFL, logging 180 snaps there as a rookie in 2018.
Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse (Jersey No. 27)
Jayron Kearse earned an overall PFF grade of 76.8 in 2021, ranking 12th out of 74 qualified safeties. That makes him the second-highest graded safety who is set to hit free agency behind only New Orleans’ Marcus Williams (80.1, 7th).
Kearse is a box safety whose best attribute is tackling. He missed only three tackles in 16 games, registering a missed tackle rate of 3.2% that ranked second-best among qualified safeties.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward (Jersey No. 35)
Charvius Ward is a solid starting cornerback who will be only 26 years old in May. He consistently posts very low missed tackle rates and grades out well against the run. In coverage, he’s boom or bust, allowing a completion percentage of only 52.9% in his career but giving up 13.8 yards per reception.
Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu (Jersey No. 32)
Tyrann Mathieu is a versatile safety who can make big plays in many different ways. Over the last three seasons, he has 13 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), four fumble recoveries, and 28 total pressures as a pass-rusher.
With a gaping hole at both safety positions, could the Jets splurge on Mathieu? Age is a concern, as he will turn 30 in May.
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