New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas is on a roll
Douglas started things off by signing former 49ers guard Laken Tomlinson and Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah when the legal tampering period opened on Monday afternoon. He then followed it up by addressing the defense on day two, bringing in Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed and Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead.
All four players should immediately upgrade their respective positions, but which of the new contracts is the best overall?
From a financial standpoint, no singing the Jets made in 2022 has been better than Jordan Whitehead.
Whitehead’s deal is the shortest of the new singings – two years in length while the rest are three – but the true beauty of Whitehead’s deal comes in its’ total value. Whitehead is only set to make $14.5 million over those two years, just over seven million per season. For reference, another safety the Jets were reportedly interested in, former Saint Marcus Williams, signed with the Ravens for $75 million over five years, or $14 million per season.
Williams is set to make literally twice as much per year as Whitehead is scheduled to make in New York. However, Williams is not double the player Whitehead is. At only 24, Whitehead is an already ascending talent with room to grow. He’ll immediately take over the Jets’ strong safety spot, delivering kill-shots in the run game while blowing up pass targets over the middle.
Best of all, the Jets will have the option after those two years to either reward Whitehead with a bigger contract or let him walk with little money invested.
Whitehead was a player many expected to cash in on the open market, and the Jets got him for “prove-it” money. At best, Whitehead will massively out-play his salary and earn a much more lucrative long-term contract from New York in two years. At worst, Whitehead falters, and the Jets barely paid anything for his services. NFL free agency is rarely a risk-free endeavor, but Whitehead’s deal is about as risk-free as it gets.
After Whitehead, Douglas’s best move was luring away C.J. Uzomah from Cincinnati.
Uzomah broke out in 2021 with career highs in catches and yards, proving to be a reliable option for Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Despite the Bengals’ recent success, Uzomah chose to leave Cincy and join and a New York squad coming off of a four-win season.
While many would assume the Jets overpaid for Uzomah, money was clearly not the deciding factor.
Uzomah will make $24 million over three years in New York, with only $15 million in guarantees. For comparison, Seattle resigned their tight end, Will Dissly, to an identical three year/$24 million dollar contract despite Uzomah more than doubling Dissly’s 2021 output in catches and yards.
C.J. Uzomah willingly leaving the rising Bengals for a market-value contract with the Jets speaks volumes to how players view New York’s head coach, Robert Saleh. Saleh’s influence has drastically improved the Jets’ putrid reputation, enough so that after one year in New York, players from opposing teams are buying in, and there’s no better example than Uzomah.
The 2022 free-agent class is proof that the “same old Jets’ narrative is starting to fade away.
Players from winning programs just entering their primes are choosing the Jets, not because they’re offering the most money, but because they believe the Jets are building something special.
The Oklahoma Drill Podcast is back to review a home-run first wave of free agency for the New York Jets. Tune in for detailed analysis on every new Jet, how those new Jets will affect the draft, and more.