Looking forward to the New York Jets’ second wave of NFL free agency
Following a fun opening week of free agency for the New York Jets, the second wave of the process is now underway. General manager Joe Douglas got off to a good start last week. He can still make a few more minor moves to place the Jets in an even better position to succeed in 2022.
When it comes to salary cap space, Over The Cap has the Jets currently at $20.9 million for 2022 and $49.6 for 2023. These amounts are not yet counting the deal agreed to with Tyler Conklin and do not include the money that will be allocated to the upcoming draft class.
With the cap restrictions at this point, it makes the most sense to simply add insurance with quality veteran depth. The Jets have a few of their own free agents still available who could potentially fit reserve roles. On the open market, there are a few noteworthy players worth keeping an eye on.
Let’s review who the Jets should re-sign or acquire as the second part to free agency goes on.
2021 Jets still available
- IOL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
- EDGE Kyle Phillips
- WR Keelan Cole
- TE Tyler Kroft
In a backup position, all four of these 2021 Jets can provide adequate depth.
Joe Douglas has done a stellar job of investing premium assets in two high-caliber starting guards in Alijah Vera-Tucker and Laken Tomlinson.
After Vera-Tucker and Tomlinson, there is a concern with the depth at guard. Bringing back Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as the third guard would be an awesome move to address that problem.
Veteran guard Greg Van Roten has a cap hit of $3.5 million for the 2022 season, and all of that money would be freed up if he were released. Cutting Van Roten and using the vacated space to re-sign Duvernay-Tardif would be wise.
Duvernay-Tardif and Dan Feeney would solidify the Jets with fantastic interior offensive line depth.
The Jets had restricted-tender eligibility for Kyle Phillips and opted not to assign him with a tender, so he is now an unrestricted free agent. Still, re-signing him would be worth it.
Phillips can contribute where the Jets struggled tremendously in 2021: the run game. He is a capable run-stopping defensive lineman who can set the edge. Phillips can help keep a star pass-rusher like Carl Lawson fresh by taking reps on early downs.
Phillips will only turn 25 in May. Having him as a part of the camp competition on the defensive line would be beneficial for the Jets.
It has been fairly surprising that the Jets have not acquired a veteran wide receiver so far this offseason. They will likely draft a starter with one of their first four draft selections within the top 38 picks.
Even with an added starter likely to come through the draft, providing veteran insurance behind the rookie is smart. Keelan Cole would be a serviceable fourth or fifth receiver for the Jets to have in 2022.
Last season was a disappointing year for Cole. On a lower-priced deal, he could potentially bounce back in a lesser role.
Having Cole and Braxton Berrios as two backups to Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and a probable rookie would make for a good wide receiver group for Zach Wilson.
The Jets have made two thrilling, needed additions to the tight end position so far in free agency. C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin are two quality starters to have. After them, though, the third tight end spot is currently up for grabs.
Tyler Kroft would fill that role adequately for the Jets this season. He got a year of experience in the system last season.
Kroft can help as a blocker and provides more experience in the passing game compared to the rest of the backup tight ends currently on the roster.
With the amount of two-tight end sets Mike LaFleur will run, having a good third tight end in Kroft would be useful.
Outside free agents
The one position not discussed above where the Jets could use a veteran is offensive tackle. With Morgan Moses signing with the Baltimore Ravens, a third tackle is needed for the Jets after George Fant and Mekhi Becton.
New York should also go after another wide receiver to add to the depth chart alongside Cole.
- Billy Turner, Green Bay Packers
- Daryl Williams, Buffalo Bills
- Dennis Kelly, Green Bay Packers
Billy Turner has spent the last three years of his career in Matt LaFleur’s offense. He has played a multitude of positions along the offensive line throughout his career. In 2020, he played at right tackle and had his best year per Pro Football Focus with a grade of 69.3.
Daryl Williams started all 33 games for the Buffalo Bills over the last two seasons. At right tackle in 2020, he had a career year (79.4 PFF grade). It led to a three-year contract just last offseason. He ended up being moved inside to guard in 2021 and was a cap casualty this offseason.
Dennis Kelly has started 20 games over the last two years. He has spent most of his career as a reserve (51 starts in 10 years) and would fill the third tackle role well. His only year as a full-time starter was 2020 at right tackle where he earned a 65.9 PFF grade.
The Jets will probably draft a tackle in the mid-rounds to develop. For 2022, though, it would pay off to have a veteran who could provide more reliable depth on the edge.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
- Will Fuller, Miami Dolphins
It is somewhat shocking that Marquez Valdes-Scantling is still available. He is a 6-foot-4 target with 4.3 speed. With the Jets, Valdes-Scantling would have familiarity with the offense going from Matt to Mike LaFleur.
Will Fuller has only played 31 games over the last four years. As a backup with more limited reps there is a greater likelihood he could stay healthy. He has 4.3 speed and production when on the field throughout his career to be a high-level reserve.
Both Valdes-Scantling and Fuller would bring a needed deep-threat ability to the Jets offense. Their 4.3 speed would match well with the strong arm Zach Wilson has. Either one would fill the fourth receiver spot the Jets need.