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5 free agents NY Jets should target after NFL draft

Justin Simmons
Justin Simmons

Free agency still offers some intriguing names for the New York Jets to consider

The NFL draft is behind us, and teams have finished filling up on UDFA signings. Yet, plenty of interesting names are still available on the free agency market for the New York Jets. With the roster structure looking clearer post-draft, here are some potential names the Jets should be targeting post-draft.

OT David Bakhtiari

Since being released by the Green Bay Packers, OT David Bakhtiari has been rumored to sign with the Jets. While it has yet to happen, Bakhtiari remains an interesting name due to his close friendship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, the biggest questions surrounding Bakhtiari are the type of contract he’d demand and his health.

When healthy, Bakhtiari has proven to be one of the best tackles in the NFL. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played a complete season since 2019 (although he made first-team All-Pro playing 12 games in 2020).

The Jets drafted Penn State OT Olu Fashanu 11th overall in the 2024 NFL draft. They also signed OT Tyron Smith and made a trade to bring back OT Morgan Moses in the offseason. Still, if Bakhtiari is healthy and can be brought in on a team-friendly contract, his presence would boost the offensive line depth.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a deep-threat receiver who is familiar with Aaron Rodgers from their four seasons together in Green Bay. He should have no trouble learning the offense if he were brought in on a team-friendly contract.

Valdes-Scantling was relied upon as a deep-threat option last season for the Chiefs, as 35% of his targets were of 20+ yards, ranking third in the NFL among receivers with at least 40 targets, per PFF. Those targets were typically very deep, as his 34.0 ADOT on deep targets ranked ninth.

While it’d be less than ideal to see MVS in the starting rotation, he would provide an excellent depth piece for the Jets in a field-stretching role.

WR D.J. Chark

DJ Chark has had a similar career arc to Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup (who I was going to mention in this article until he signed with the Raiders). After hitting the 1,000-yard mark in his second season, Chark’s third season would be underwhelming catching passes from three different quarterbacks. Then in 2021, he would suffer a fractured ankle in Week 4, ending his season and his tenure in Jacksonville.

However, Chark has proven to be a solid WR3 for multiple teams. He is coming off back-to-back 500-yard seasons in Detroit and Carolina. While it’s unlikely that Chark will ever return to his ceiling, he is a solid WR3 option for the Jets to consider.

Chark is more in the mold of Mike Williams and his “go and get it” ability than in the mold of the shifty Malachi Corley. If Williams is not available to start the season, Chark could step in and be a plausible replacement option until Williams returns.

LB Kwon Alexander

New York Jets fans were disappointed when the team didn’t re-sign Kwon Alexander last season. And while injuries may have dampened his overall ceiling, Alexander still played well in his role with the Steelers in 2023.

Alexander’s 74.3 PFF coverage grade was good for 19th among 82 linebackers (min. 300 snaps). He was also tied for the third-lowest reception percentage allowed by linebackers at 63.3%. For a player who has had his career derailed by injuries, Alexander has become a good role player.

The Jets lack depth behind Will linebacker Jamien Sherwood, making Alexander a good depth piece at the position. After all, he understands the system and performed admirably with the Jets in 2022. Furthermore, he would be a cheap option for the Jets to consider without a severe drop-off in talent if Sherwood were to miss time.

FS Justin Simmons

Justin Simmons is a four-time All-Pro safety, including each of the past three seasons. Although his play has declined slightly with age, he would still be a good option for the Jets to target. His presence would bring added leadership to the locker room in New York.

Despite being given the second-worst coverage grade of his career last season by PFF (63.4), Simmons was tied for 17th among safeties in forced incompletions per target at 17% (among 92 safeties, min. 200 cover snaps). Simmons’ 85.9 passer rating allowed ranked 37th of 84 safeties (min. 400 defensive snaps), and his three interceptions were tied for 11th. Simmons has recorded at least three interceptions in six consecutive seasons.

As a run stopper, Simmons posted the 14th-highest PFF run defense grade among 84 safeties at 77.6.

Simmons has been a versatile player throughout his career, lining up at various points on the field for the Broncos’ defense. This versatility could allow the Jets to be creative on defense and cause fits for opposing offenses. However, his price tag might be too high for what Joe Douglas would be willing to pay – especially after re-signing Ashtyn Davis.

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cduffynyc
cduffynyc
22 days ago

I’d only take Alexander from this list.

DFargas
DFargas
22 days ago

It would be great to see Kwon Alexander back.

Jets71
Jets71
22 days ago

You can add Calais Campbell to this list. He played 63% of the snaps last season in ATL, had 6.5 sacks, 10 TFL, and 17 QB hits. He’d be a nice rotational piece for them.

I don’t see them signing a LB or S, my feeling is they have some younger guys they would like to develop, and brining in Alexander or Simmons would be progress stopping.

MVS is interesting but selfishly I can’t go through an entire season of fans and media bemoaning how his “Rogers’ buddy” every time he drops a pass, which will happen. I prefer Chark.

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