Zach Wilson, Michael Carter, NY Jets
Zach Wilson, Michael Carter, New York Jets, Getty Images

Identifying the core pieces on the New York Jets’ current roster

With a big offseason for the New York Jets set to start in less than two weeks – one that will feature many new players coming into the building – it is a good time to assess the current players on New York’s roster.

The Jets have a lot of exciting and promising young players, a good amount of them coming from last year’s draft class.

Most of the veterans who could be a part of the long-term future of the Jets have been signed since Joe Douglas took over as general manager.

Since Douglas has taken over, there has been a change in approach when it comes to roster building. For too long, the Jets tried to build their team through free agency. While Douglas has signed a couple of big-time free agents, he has left a good chunk of cap space available when he could have added more top-caliber veterans.

Douglas has shown through two offseasons that the foundation of this team will be built through the draft.

With that in mind, let’s review the mix of youth and veterans who make up the Jets’ current long-term core as they enter the 2022 offseason.

Young pieces on offense

For the first time in a long time, the Jets have some young pieces to feel good about on offense.

In the 2021 draft, the team’s first four picks all went to the offensive side of the football. Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, and Michael Carter all showed promise at some point in year one. Each player suits the offensive scheme coordinated by Mike LaFleur. All four players are undoubtedly core pieces to the Jets’ long-term outlook.

Aside from the draft class a year ago, the one other young offensive player who can be a long-term piece for the Jets is tackle Mekhi Becton. An injury in Week 1 caused him to miss the rest of the season last year. His rookie year was promising, though. If he can get back to full health, Becton has the ability to be a core Jet for the future.

Young pieces on defense

Defensively, the Jets have a few young defensive linemen and day-three selections at cornerback who can be a part of the team for years to come.

Starting up front, Quinnen Williams was selected by the Jets as the third overall pick in 2019 and is entering his fourth season. Williams is still only 24 years old and has room to grow.

John Franklin-Myers has been one of the most valuable Jets over the last two years. He had some special moments in 2021 which led to a long-term contract extension through 2025.

In the secondary, the Jets have a ton of youth. They were able to gain experience a year ago and showed they can play.

Fifth-round pick Michael Carter II started in the slot from the first game of the season. He had a strong start to the year and proved he belongs.

On the outside, Bryce Hall got back to full health in 2021 and showed why he was considered a possible first-round prospect prior to his injury troubles. Hall showed good things in his first season as a starter and should be one of the Jets starting outside cornerbacks for years to come.

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Veteran pieces on offense

On the offensive side of the football, the Jets have handed out lucrative three-year contracts to Corey Davis, George Fant, and Connor McGovern over the last two offseasons.

Fant was probably the Jets’ best player in 2021. He deserves a multi-year extension from the team as a bookend tackle.

Davis had a frustrating first season with the team. With that being said, expect an improved Davis in 2022. Early on last year, he had great moments in the Panthers and Titans games. With a full offseason building experience in the offense and with Wilson, Davis should be better. Improving the talent around him should also help him settle into a role that better suits him.

McGovern had a solid second year with the Jets. He played better as the season went along.

While his competition for this title isn’t the greatest, McGovern has been the Jets’ best center since Nick Mangold.

There has been some recent speculation regarding McGovern’s future with the team as a result of the out in his contract. New York can save $9 million by cutting him. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Veteran pieces on defense

The Jets have spent big on two defensive players over the last few years: C.J. Mosley and Carl Lawson. They are arguably two of the best players the Jets currently have on their entire roster.

Mosley won the Jets’ Curtis Martin Team MVP award in 2021, which was his first full year playing for the Jets after playing just two games from 2019-20. He is under contract with the team through 2024. Mosley is a great leader by example and can still play at a solid level.

It would be huge for New York’s fortunes if Lawson gets back to full health. During training camp last summer, he seemed like the best player on the field. Lawson will turn 27 in June and is under contract with the Jets through 2023.

Special teams

Douglas has invested significant resources for special teams throughout his tenure. Thomas Hennessy and Justin Hardee have been signed to multi-year deals. Both are under contract for the next two years.

With Marcus Maye likely going to a new team, it would leave Hennessy as the longest-tenured Jet.

Hardee was signed last offseason and just turned 28. He is a Pro Bowl-caliber gunner on special teams and an emotional leader for the Jets, being named a captain in his first season with the team.

Projected unrestricted free agents

The two free agents who would be included in this if re-signed are Folorunso Fatukasi and Braxton Berrios.

Since 2019, Fatukasi has gained a great reputation as a run-stopping defensive tackle and a vocal leader for the Jets.

Berrios was named a First-Team All-Pro as a kick returner last season and showed improvement as a receiver.

Youth with potential

Two young Jets who could grow as players and possibly be a part of this core are Bryce Huff and Brandin Echols.

Huff has been with the team the last two years after joining as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He has shown some encouraging things as a rotational edge rusher. It would be a big plus if he could provide long-term depth to the defensive line.

As a late day-three selection, Echols had an impressive rookie year on the outside at cornerback. He has the speed, athletic ability, and competitiveness to be successful. He had two interceptions over the final four games. Echols can at the very least provide strong depth at an important position. If he can take the next step he would solidify himself to the core of this team.

Reviewing the Jets’ core

Overall, the Jets already have a good group of talent to build upon for years to come.

Having five young building blocks on offense in Wilson, Carter, Moore, Vera-Tucker, and Becton is thrilling. Defensively, the line has two talented young players in Williams and Franklin-Myers while Hall and Carter II are starters at cornerback. The special teams unit will be led by Hennessy and Hardee.

Davis, Fant, McGovern, Lawson, and Mosley are the five veterans who are key to the future.

It is exciting to know that the Jets will have premium amounts of salary cap space for free agency and picks in the draft. If they can continue adding to the solid core already in place, this team can make its long-awaited return to the playoffs.

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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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WorthlessWoody
WorthlessWoody
6 months ago

When your core is a guard, slot receiver, Scatback, and you are excited about DTs and nickel backs….you are doing it all wrong.

QB, OT, Edge, WR these are your critical positions. This is what makes a strong core. Jets are injured and unknown there. Second level positions are your OG, OC, TE, LB, FS and CB. After that it’s the fungible positions like RB, Slot WR, DT, Nickel. Then FB and SS/LB hybrids just ahead of LS, K, P.

Jets are weak and overpaying for mediocrity in those second level positions overall. AVT needs to justify what it cost to get him. So far, not even close. I’m hopeful though. The FA vets we have, even the expensive ones (Mosley) are enough to hold the fort while we draft over them. Hall is a solid player, I’d let him keep starting and just sign a FA at CB to hold the fort and punt on that position for 22.

IF Becton returns to form and improves, IF Zach is a real QB…then MAYBE we are halfway there. We need the OT, Edge and an outside WR with 3 of the first 4 picks. And hopefully we double dip at WR or Edge. Do THAT…and HIT in the selections. Then maybe there is a core in place. If you can also use FA to shore up CB, FS, OG, TE then we might even be actually competing soon.

Right now our core is made up of the most easily replaceable positions in the NFL. Not a good look for Joe.

Jets71
Jets71
6 months ago
Reply to  WorthlessWoody

Overall, I agree with the gist of what you are saying, in that the Jets need better premier players to build the team around but those are not the only players that build a core. I do disagree with AVT not being close to what they paid considering they gave up a couple of “maybe good player” picks for a guy who was a starter as a rookie on an OL that had some moving parts early, and late in the season. You are right on about Zach, he needs to be a “real QB” for all of this to work, I have my doubts about him ever turning into “that guy.” I also don’t agree it’s “not a good look for Joe.” The reality is they just completed the first year of him running the entire football operation. He and Gase were on an equal level and even though Joe had “final say” on players they still had to work together. I think it’s a very good look that in his first year of running the entire football operation (hiring coach, drafting, etc) that he drafted serveral players who are at min NFL players and a few of those could be very good to excellent starters. I know we hate it as fans but the past ten years can’t influence the current positon.