J.D. McKissic, Free Agent, Stats, Contract, NY Jets
J.D. McKissic, Washington Commanders, Getty Images

Which offensive free agents deserve more attention as New York Jets targets?

Surrounding Zach Wilson with the best possible supporting cast will be a point of emphasis for New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas when the NFL’s legal tampering period opens in less than three weeks (March 14).

Expect the Jets to inquire about the top names on the wide receiver, tight end, and right guard markets.

It will also be important for the Jets to build reliable depth in free agency. There are some under-the-radar players slated to be available at running back, wide receiver, and on the offensive line who would round things out offensively and could be worth following for Jets fans.

Let’s review eight of the most underrated offensive free agents for the Jets.

Running Back

  • J.D. McKissic, Washington Commanders
  • Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts

J.D. McKissic would be a great addition for Wilson in the passing game. McKissic has past experience playing wide receiver. He would fit perfectly as a second running back behind Michael Carter.

McKissic has six years of NFL experience and will turn 29 in August. Over the last three seasons, McKissic has 157 receptions for 1,219 receiving yards. He has also averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry each year.

Marlon Mack emerged as a potential star from 2018-19, averaging 84.0 scrimmage yards per game and scoring 18 total touchdowns, but his career has gone downhill since. Over the last two years, Mack had a season-ending Achilles injury in 2020 and spent the 2021 season buried on the depth chart behind Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.

Mack will only be turning 26 in March, so there could still be gas left in the tank for the once-promising back.

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Wide Receiver

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
  • Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons
  • Adam Humphries, Washington Commanders

Marquez Valdes-Scantling would be a great fit with the Jets for a few reasons. Most importantly, he spent the last three seasons in a similar offense to the Jets and would be going from Matt to Mike LaFleur.

Valdes-Scantling possesses big-play ability with his tremendous speed which would mesh well with the strong arm Wilson has. Over the four years of his career, Valdes-Scantling averages 17.5 yards per catch. He is also fairly tall at 6-foot-4 and would give the Jets some size at the position, which they currently don’t have much of.

Russell Gage gained a greater role in the Falcons offense over the last two years and delivered. He totaled 138 catches, 1,556 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. He finished last season strong, catching 39 passes for 500 yards over his final six games.

Gage just turned 26 years old and should keep improving. He would make for an ideal fit as the third receiver in the Jets offense.

Adam Humphries is a veteran slot receiver with solid production entering his eighth NFL season. He will turn 29 in June and looks to have some years left in him after a bounce-back season in 2021 that saw him catch 41 passes for 383 yards in a limited role. Humphries dropped only two passes.

Throughout his career, Humphries has been a featured third-down chain-mover. With Braxton Berrios and Jamison Crowder both set to become free agents, Humphries would fill a need in the slot.

Offensive Line

  • Chukwuma Okorafor, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Chris Reed, Indianapolis Colts
  • Austin Blythe, Kansas City Chiefs

The Jets have an important free agent of their own in Morgan Moses who will likely get a better opportunity to start elsewhere. That makes the third tackle on the offensive line a need for the Jets.

Chukwuma Okorafor is not a lock to get a guaranteed starting job from a team as a result of his 11 penalties from a year ago in a deep tackle market. Over the last two years, he started 31 games. He will only turn 25 in August. Okorafor only allowed two sacks in 2021 and was given a decent grade of 63.6 from Pro Football Focus.

Chris Reed would be a potential fallback option for the Jets to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Reed will turn 30 in July as he enters his eighth NFL season.

Reed has 29 career starts, 20 of which came over the last two years (1,416 snaps). Throughout the last two seasons, he only committed six penalties. In 2021, Reed allowed no sacks and earned a PFF grade of 67.2. Reed would be a good third guard.

Austin Blythe would make for a solid backup to the Jets if they elect not to re-sign Dan Feeney. Throughout his six-year NFL career, Blythe has gained experience playing both guard and center.

As a result of the early success rookies Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith ended up having for the Chiefs, Blythe did not start in a game a year ago. From 2018-2020, Blythe started 47 games for the Rams. In his year at center in 2020, PFF gave Blythe a steady grade of 69.3. He would be a good backup center to sign.

Takeaways for the Jets

It would be nice if the Jets could sign a player or two here. With how frequently injuries occur, it will be pivotal to have as many capable veterans as possible to place around Zach Wilson at an early point in his career.

The Jets will likely be strongly in-play for the top wide receivers, tight ends, and right guards in free agency. Still, being able to add reliable depth pieces on cost-effective deals is always beneficial.

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Ryan Moran is a writer for Jets X-Factor providing in-depth analysis on all things related to the team. Email: ryan.moran310[at]gmail.com
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Bruno
Bruno
9 months ago

For every game Scantling is great it’s always followed with Duds, Alot of drops. Wr Gage and possibly Wilson from the boys. TE I’m for Conklin or Williams. RB I could live with giving Mack a chance to be 1B. Oline depth I like Tyrell Crosby from the Lions.as a swing tackle who can play guard and Scott Quessenberry from Chargers as a G /C.

JetOrange
JetOrange
9 months ago

It’s always about price, Jets have a plethora of holes, the Jets will be active in the second week of FA. 20 million for Draft picks, need to stretch those CAP dollars. Scantling and Gage are intriguing, McKissic is such a great fit. Go down this list , 3 of these players will be Jets by the end of March. Great article, thanks

dudizt
dudizt
9 months ago

Nice article as people are always too focused on the top end of the market.

One question about McKissic, what are his pass protection numbers like? If he’s solid, I would be sold to go after him. If not, I think we should look for someone to support there as well.