Analyzing the main positives that each New York Jets free-agent pickup brings to the team
Three weeks of 2022 free agency are in the books for the New York Jets. To this point, eight new players have been added to the team.
Each new addition fills a hole that was on the roster. Five of the signings will have significant starting positions and are on multi-year deals as well. The most recent three acquisitions will play important depth roles.
Let’s go over what all eight free agents added by the Jets so far will bring to the team.
CB D.J. Reed
D.J. Reed is probably the best player the Jets signed this free agency. He is entering year five of his career and is currently 25 years old. Reed plays a premium position at cornerback and gives the Jets’ group a substantial boost.
Reed’s production from 2021 would prove he is arguably a CB1. At the very least, Reed is a high-end second corner. Reed has two years of familiarity with head coach Robert Saleh (2018-19) and played in a similar defensive scheme with the Seahawks the last two years.
It is no secret that the Jets’ defense needs more ball production. They’ll get that from Reed, who recorded two interceptions in each of the last two seasons.
Reed is a big-time addition who has the potential to be a cornerstone piece at an impact position for years to come.
LG Laken Tomlinson
The first 2022 free agent signing for the Jets was left guard Laken Tomlinson. Tomlinson is entering his eighth NFL season and turned 30 in February. He was a Pro Bowl player last season and potentially qualifies as the one “big name” type of free agency signing for the Jets.
Tomlinson spent the last five seasons with the 49ers, playing in the same offensive scheme that the Jets currently run. He has never missed an NFL game due to injury, so it’s a plus that the Jets can expect week in and week out availability from Tomlinson.
In 2021, Tomlinson had success as a pass-blocker, giving up only two sacks. Tomlinson was also one of the league’s highest-graded run-blockers.
Filling one guard position was key for the Jets this offseason. New York now has five offensive line starters locked in prior to the draft.
Similar to Reed, Tomlinson has experience with coaches on the staff, sharing four years in San Francisco with Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur, and John Benton.
TE C.J. Uzomah
C.J. Uzomah was the first tight end signed by the Jets. He addresses one of the biggest weaknesses the Jets have had for years. Uzomah is entering year eight of his NFL career and will play the upcoming season at 29 years old.
The first thing that jumps out about Uzomah is his experience as a respected leader on last year’s Super Bowl-bound Bengals team. Uzomah will bring tremendous character to the Jets.
With his size (6-foot-6, 260 lbs), Uzomah will help in the red zone and over the middle. He also has speed (4.62) where he can help vertically down the seam.
Uzomah uses his combination of size and speed to provide some of the best yards-after-catch production at the tight end position. It’s a needed skill for players in Mike LaFleur’s offense, making Uzomah a great fit for the scheme.
Lastly, Uzomah will help as a blocker in the running game.
TE Tyler Conklin
It was a bit shocking to see the Jets sign a second tight end a few days into free agency, but with the team figuring to run a lot of 12 personnel packages (2 tight ends), it made sense.
Tyler Conklin got his first opportunity as a starter in 2021 and took advantage as he recorded impressive production (61 catches, 593 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns). He is still only 26 years old.
Conklin is a great route-runner with very reliable hands. He will help Zach Wilson as a reliable safety blanket underneath on check downs. Additionally, Conklin can take on a great responsibility as a blocker in both the run and pass game.
What’s nice is that Conklin’s and Uzomah’s strengths complement one another well. Adding these two players will undoubtedly make life easier on LaFleur and Wilson in their second year together.
The Jets are hoping that Conklin and Uzomah can establish themselves as a top-flight tight end duo over the next three years.
SS Jordan Whitehead
Entering this offseason, the Jets’ biggest need defensively was safety. Jordan Whitehead is an exciting addition to address that need.
Known for his physicality at the strong safety position, Whitehead can make plays in the box and around the line of scrimmage. He also thrives in zone coverage.
The Jets’ run defense needed to get drastically better after a 29th-ranked finish in 2021. Whitehead will help in that regard tremendously. He picked up 14 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
Still a young player (he just turned 25), Whitehead is someone who the Jets hope can be a core defensive piece for years to come.
EDGE Jacob Martin
As a situational edge rusher, Martin has a fast first step and speed around the corner. He is similar to Carl Lawson and Bryce Huff in that they are all built lower to the ground (all 6-foot-3 or smaller) with explosiveness on the outside.
Martin will play most of this upcoming season at 26 years old. He has recorded at least three sacks in each season of his four-year career. With the amount of rotating the Jets like to integrate along the defensive front, Martin will have opportunities to make plays.
DT Solomon Thomas
Another experienced depth piece was added to the defensive line last week in the form of Solomon Thomas, a former third overall draft pick who is still only 26 years old.
Thomas has four years of experience with Robert Saleh in San Francisco (2017-20). As a member of the Raiders last year, Thomas had his best NFL season with career-highs of 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits.
Having as many proven defensive linemen as possible to utilize in their rotation will be vital to the Jets’ defensive success this season. Thomas knows Saleh and this defensive scheme. He will help the interior pass rush on passing downs.
K Greg Zuerlein
After three straight years of inconsistency at kicker, the Jets can now feel good about the two players they will have competing. Eddy Pineiro finished last season strong and was brought back as a restricted free agent. Adding Greg Zuerlein into the mix will only benefit the Jets.
This will be year 11 for Zuerlein in his career. Over the last two years with the Cowboys, Zuerlein went 63 for 76 (82.9%) on field-goal attempts. On extra points, Zuerlein was 75 for 84 (89.3%).
Zuerlein is known for his leg strength. He has made the most 55+ yard field goals of any kicker in NFL history (18).
The competition for the kicker job between Pineiro and Zuerlein will be worth keeping a close eye on.