Joe Douglas fixates upon the offensive line in this New York Jets mock free agency plan
The 2022 NFL free-agent market is set to open up in a week on Monday, March 14, when the league’s legal tampering period will begin at 12 p.m. ET.
It is a big opportunity for the New York Jets to improve their roster.
General manager Joe Douglas is currently set to work with $48.8 million (per Over The Cap) which gives the Jets the fourth-most cap space in the NFL.
How will Douglas and the Jets utilize their cap space? Let’s go through a mock free agency plan for New York.
Expect the Jets to move on from some cap casualties. In this plan, we will release four players to open up $21 million in cap room:
- Greg Van Roten ($3.5 million added)
- Ryan Griffin ($3 million added)
- Connor McGovern ($9 million added)
- Sheldon Rankins ($5.5 million added)
These four cuts are accompanied by a minimal dead-money hit of $2.3 million.
Greg Van Roten and Ryan Griffin are no surprise.
If it were not for the recent rumors suggesting that the Jets may look to upgrade at center, Connor McGovern would not be added here. However, in light of those rumors, we decide to cut ties with McGovern in exchange for the $9 million in cap room that is freed up by his release.
— NFLTradeRumors.co (@nfltrade_rumors) March 5, 2022
Sheldon Rankins brings good leadership qualities to the team but the Jets decide to aim for an upgrade with a younger defensive lineman.
With those releases, the Jets are now at $69.8 million in cap space heading into the free agency process.
In this mock, we’re only going to re-sign two Jets:
- Dan Feeney (one-year, $2.75 million)
- Eddy Pineiro (one-year, $1.1 million)
- Mike White (RFA original-round tender: $2.54 million)
Dan Feeney can bring reliable depth to the interior of the offensive line.
The Jets have had struggles at kicker. Eddy Pineiro did a good job when he was acquired last December (8-for-8 on field goals). Re-signing him would be a good move for the Jets.
Mike White is a restricted free agent. Here, the Jets give him an original-round tender to retain him on a one-year, $2.54 million deal.
We’re going to bring in nine new players through free agency. Out of the nine new players, six are added to the offense to help Zach Wilson and Mike LaFleur as they enter their second year together. Three new defensive players are signed for Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich.
Bears RG James Daniels (4 years, $42 million)
James Daniels just had the best year of his NFL career and will be turning only 25 years old in September.
Daniels started all 17 games and played 100% of the Bears’ offensive snaps (1,122) in 2021. He is a great athlete with upside to keep improving. His athleticism makes him a great fit in the Jets’ zone running scheme.
In addition, Daniels did some good things as a pass blocker, giving up only three sacks. Penalties were an issue that will have to be cleaned up, as he had eight in 2021, but he should be fine in this category as he only had eight penalties over his first three years combined.
For the year, Daniels got a 71.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking ninth-best among qualified guards.
Related Article: Why James Daniels makes so much sense as a NY Jets free agent target
Buccaneers C Ryan Jensen (3 years, $36 million)
As of late, there have been rumors that the Jets have interest in 2021 Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen.
Availability and toughness are two of the few biggest attributes Jensen would bring to the Jets. Since 2017, he has not missed a start (81 games).
Jensen earned an overall PFF grade of 70.3 for the 2021 season, placing 12th among centers. He was solid in terms of both sacks allowed (2) and penalties committed (5).
In Jensen, the Jets would be adding an experienced, successful center. Although he will turn 31 in May, Jensen still has a lot in the tank and would bring a competitive edge to the Jets’ offensive line while representing an upgrade at the center position.
Vikings TE Tyler Conklin (2 years, $15 million)
It is no secret the Jets must add a proven veteran pass-catching tight end for Zach Wilson in free agency.
Tyler Conklin finally got an opportunity in 2021 to be a featured target and delivered. He played in all 17 games, catching 61 of his 87 targets for 593 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Availability is not a concern with Conklin. He has missed one game in his career.
Conklin will be turning 27 in July. With continued, consistent opportunities in the passing game, he should build on what he did last season.
Cowboys SS Jayron Kearse (2 years, $11 million)
Defensively, the biggest need the Jets have is at safety. The free-agent safety market has too much quality depth for the Jets to not add at least one new starter.
Jayron Kearse had a career year in 2021 with the Cowboys. It was his first season as a full-time starter, playing in all 17 games and starting 15 after starting 12 games over his first six seasons. He just turned 28 years old.
Physically, the size Kearse possesses is imposing (6-foot-4, 215 lbs). He finished the year with 101 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, and one sack. In coverage, Kearse had 10 passes defended and two interceptions.
Kearse would help the Jets in the box against the run and pass. His ability in coverage would bring a needed skill set for the Jets at safety.
Seahawks DE Rasheem Green (3 years, $21 million)
After moving on from Sheldon Rankins, the Jets add a younger defensive lineman with versatility. Rasheem Green just had his best year and will only be turning 25 in May.
Green possesses a frame that allows him to work both inside and outside (6-foot-4, 279 lbs). Last year was his first full season as a starter.
Green finished the 2021 season with 6.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hits. Impressively, he also had four passes defended.
Even if the Jets select an edge defender early on, it should still not take away from adding a free agent from a deep group of options. Green looks to be an ascending player who would bolster the Jets’ defensive line.
Commanders DT Tim Settle (3 years, $15 million)
With the Jets losing Folorunso Fatukasi in our mock, adding a run-stopping nose tackle will be important. The free-agent market has many quality options for the Jets.
Tim Settle is a young free agent who will turn 25 in July. He has been in an even 4-3 defensive front in Washington, which the Jets run, making Settle an ideal scheme fit.
Availability has been consistent from Settle through the first four years of his career (only two games missed).
Settle has produced both a run defender and a pass rusher. He had five tackles for loss in 2020 and four in 2021. In 2020, Settle recorded five sacks and seven quarterback hits. While Settle failed to record a sack or quarterback hit in 2021, he only played 210 snaps. More playing time could unlock his potential.
It is fair to expect growth from Settle as such a young player who flashed with limited snaps. He was not given many opportunities on the talented defensive line Washington has. Settle would be a savvy addition for the Jets.
Dolphins WR Will Fuller (1 year, $3 million)
With the way this mock has gone, the Jets will need to target a starting wide receiver early in the draft for Zach Wilson. But even with a starting rookie added, depth at wide receiver is still a need for the Jets.
In Will Fuller, the Jets add a true deep-threat with speed (4.32) to mesh with Wilson’s strong arm. The Jets did invest in a similar player last year with Keelan Cole.
Fuller is averaging 14.7 yards per reception in his career, which ranks 12th-best among active wide receivers. He posted at least one reception of 53+ yards in each of his first five seasons before missing most of 2021 with a finger injury.
With his lack of availability (42 games missed in 6 years), being at best a third or fourth receiver is likely what Fuller’s market will consist of. In a more limited role, he can bring some home-run potential to a wide receiver group.
49ers RB Raheem Mostert (1 year, $1.5 million)
The Jets continue to add depth and speed to their skill position groups for Mike LaFleur and Zach Wilson. Raheem Mostert spent four years with LaFleur in San Francisco (2017-20).
In 2019 and 2020, Mostert averaged at least five yards a carry. Mostert has blazing 4.38 speed.
Adding a veteran to have behind Michael Carter would be smart by the Jets. Signing someone like Mostert on a one-year deal would still not take away from drafting another running back to pair up with Carter for the long-term.
The big-play threat ability the Jets add here in Fuller and Mostert is exciting, with their injury concerns landing them in a limited role that suits them best.
Colts OT Sam Tevi (1 year, $1.5 million)
With the Jets slated to lose Morgan Moses in this mock, adding a reliable third tackle becomes significant. Signing Sam Tevi on a one-year deal still allows the Jets to draft a young offensive tackle in the mid to late rounds to ease in early on.
Tevi is a player with a lot of experience (44 career starts). Coming off a torn ACL from last preseason in a deep offensive tackle market, he will likely get backup opportunities from teams interested.
In 2020, Tevi only allowed two sacks and committed four penalties. He brings an ideal frame on the edge (6-foot-5, 315 lbs).
Tevi gives the Jets a quality backup tackle as insurance to George Fant and Mekhi Becton. He will be turning 28 in November.
Pre-draft depth chart
With all of these moves, here is what the Jets’ depth chart would look like heading into the draft:
- QB: Zach Wilson, Mike White
- RB: Michael Carter, Raheem Mostert, Ty Johnson, Austin Walter, La’Mical Perine, Nick Bawden (FB)
- WR: Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Will Fuller, Denzel Mims, D.J. Montgomery, Jeff Smith, Tarik Black, Rodney Adams
- OT: Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Sam Tevi, Grant Hermanns, Parker Ferguson
- OG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, James Daniels, Dan Feeney, Dru Samia
- C: Ryan Jensen, Ross Pierschbacher
- TE: Tyler Conklin, Trevon Wesco, Kenny Yeboah, Brandon Dillon
- IDL: Quinnen Williams, Tim Settle, Jonathan Marshall, Tanzel Smart
- EDGE: Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Rasheem Green, Bryce Huff, Kyle Phillips, Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Jabari Zuniga, Bradlee Anae
- LB: C.J. Mosley, Quincy Williams, Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Del’Shawn Phillips, Blake Cashman
- CB: Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II, Isaiah Dunn, Jason Pinnock, Justin Hardee, Rachad Wildgoose
- S: Jayron Kearse, Ashtyn Davis, Will Parks, Kai Nacua, Javin White, Jovante Moffatt, Zane Lewis
- P: Braden Mann
- K: Eddy Pineiro, Matt Ammendola
- LS: Thomas Hennessy