Free Agency Focus: Prioritizing positions on offense

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the next month, the Jets will be busy making adjustments to their roster by way of cuts, and then additions once free agency begins by adding players to this team for 2014.  With  estimations that the Jets will likely have over $40 million to spend (through cuts) the Jets will be set up well to add players at positions of need.

In this post, we rank (from highest to lowest) the priorities for the Jets in bringing in outside free agents at the following positions on offense:


NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh SteelersNO. 1: WIDE RECEIVER
Reasoning:
Twenty two NFL players scored more touchdowns (7) than the entire Jets receiving corps did combined in 2013.  When put in those terms, receiver is undoubtedly the top concern for free agency.  Since the team will have both David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley back, the Jets don’t need to shower the top player with cash to make this offense significantly better.  Nelson and Kerly can hold their own as second options, so adding a player who can evade and/or muscle through double teams to make life easier on the rest could make an impact for whoever is throwing the ball in 2014.
Potential Targets: Eric Decker is the most buzzworthy name, but the cost along with the post-Peyton Manning letdown might deter the Jets.  Emmanuel Sanders and Jeremy Maclin are two names that have been tied to the Jets, but players like James Jones and Golden Tate might also scratch the itch.  If the Jets want some depth and special teams help, Dexter McCluster might be a economical option.

NO. 2: RUNNING BACK
Reasoning: Chris Ivory came on towards the end of the season, but inconsistency and injury concerns from Ivory coupled with a lack of dynamic playmakers in the backfield should cause the Jets to look at depth again this year in free agency.  In Philadelphia, Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid often relied in running backs who could effectively catch the ball to create yardage.  The Jets have not had such a player since LaDainian Tomlinson and while Bilal Powell can be a serviceable backup, he is not most effective in catching the ball, ranking just 44th among all qualifying running backs.  Mike Goodson’s status for 2014 is unknown as his court case is pending.
Potential Targets:  Donald Brown and James Starks both might be a more versatile (and thus costly) option for the Jets but could shine in the Mornhinweg system.  Maurice Jones-Drew will be a free agent and Chris Johnson might be.  Both players likely want to play for contenders but also need to decrease their expectations of how much they can contribute and expect to be paid.  Still, both household names could be effective as pass-catching specialists and runners with the Jets as Tomlinson was once upon a time.  While he saw limited targets in Arizona, Rashard Mendenhall might be an interesting option for increased work in New York.

USATSI_7613268_110579513_lowresNO. 3: QUARTERBACK
Reasoning: John Idzik and Rex Ryan might want to give Geno Smith the nod again in 2014, but his December play can’t be all that keeps the Jets from adding real competition for Smith.  The rookie’s season was more down than up, but in his last five games Smith had just three interceptions and six sacks (four came against the stout Panthers) and he looked increasingly comfortable and decisive as the season ended.  For the Jets though it would seem that adding quarterbacks comes down to who.  Simms and Garrard offer nothing over Smith, so it all depends on if the Jets want to give Smith competition or cooperation.
Potential Targets: Mike Vick is the big one.  Ties to Mornhinweg from Philly and Ryan’s supposed love of Vick make sense for the Jets if they want to find a an instant competitor to start 2014.

NO. 4: TIGHT END
Reasoning: Between Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow hitting free agency, the position could look different in 2014 and there isn’t much in the way of depth players that look like they are ready to become starters straight away.  Sudfield has promise and saw a good number of snaps but doesn’t seem a compelling every down option … yet.  This is a position of need, but one which we think the Jets will try to fill through the draft.
Potential Targets: There’s a number of options, but none that stick out as better than bringing back Cumberland on the cheap and looking to the draft to build out their pass-catchers.

NO. 5: OFFENSIVE LINE
Reasoning: Between Austin Howard and Willie Colon any players that the Jets might sign might be best if they were already in the fold last year.  Beyond that, the 2013 trio of inactives Oday Aboushi, Will Campbell and Ben Ijalana loom large on the Jets bench.  We’re sure the Jets would like to make one of them take over Colon’s role, but the effect on the offense seem far too risky, especially if they don’t bring back Howard.
Potential Targets: There should be no adverse issues for Colon once he recovers from surgery for his torn bicep, but Seahawk free agent Paul McQuistan is the type of aggressive player that Rex Ryan likes and one that could fit into the team as a middle-priced free agent guard.

Agree? Disagree?  Let us know in the comments and rank your own positions and targets!

84 comments
Rex Reyanson
Rex Reyanson

If Idzik fails to resign Howard - BOOOO.  after that, as mentioned, receiver. I'm thinking 2 guys, say Maclin & either Sanders , Cooper or Tate.  I'm looking for a halfback to fill the Leon Washington role, good hands and speed - Maybe Seastrunk in the 2 nd round.  A good solid guard ( low bucks F.A. AND draft O' line no later than top of 3 rd rnd.  presto, Jet offense becomes at least average, maybe even 10 - 12 which it hasn't been since Favres first half season.

I'm all in with G.S. , ignore the mid season slump when the receivers and T.E. were guys off the street, without even pre season to get in synch.

jaygo
jaygo

Interesting comments from Schefter today.  Among other things, he pointed out that the list of free agents will grow as teams cut players for financial as well as performance reasons, and that a team like the Jets with cap space could end up getting an unexpected prize in the days ahead.  Hadn't really thought about that . . .   

harvlis
harvlis

1. O-Line - The game is won in the trenches.  We need to upgrade, big time. 

2. WR - Decker, at the right price, combined with a few solid draft picks.  Resign Holmes at the right price.

3  CB - Not sold on Cromartie.  We need to pick us a  solid starter in free agency.

4  TE - If Ebron is available at 18, lock him up.  It would be nice to add a blocking TE as well.

5  OLB - I like Pace but, I can't even imagine what a monster pass rusher would do, along side our D-line.


As for QB, I see management sticking with Geno.  I can just hope that they are right.  I am not sold on him at all.  I think he was an Idzik pick who was shoved down our throats.  If there was a FA or draft pick that I thought could be our future, I would be all over him.  I don't want Vick, as he is not the future. 


At RB, we have lots of draft picks.  Have our scouts rate the top RB's who can catch a pass out of the backfield and draft them all.  Sort it out in pre-season.   

greggreen
greggreen

If we sign 2 of the maclin sanders, tate club id be happy and we can use our first on a big TE (Id prefer amaro over ebronand) and completely overhaul the receiving core 

kniff
kniff

Bring in one FA Guard to compete with Winters, Colon, and the depth guys on the bench...draft another in the mid rounds as well.

Lock down Brick and Howard, cause we've got other priorities other than OTs this year... 

WR still requires perhaps two FAs and a first or second round pick... 

TE with our first or second pick depending on how it all unfolds....

jdb4
jdb4

Everyone, a friendly reminder, we are in lying season.  So if we hear the Jets are connected/interested in some player it might be wise to recognize it as a smokescreen. 

Gut feeling, Jets won't target Sanders or Maclin.

Adam Cohen
Adam Cohen

I would have gone:


1. WR

2. O-line

3. TE

4. QB

5. RB


We're getting dangerously close to disaster on the o-line. Very little depth and our two best players on the wrong side of 30 could prove to be a huge problem if someone gets hurt. And that's not even taking into account the massive hole at LG and a FA at RT and RG.


As for WR, I think Tate would be my first choice as a big time FA signing. Incredible hands, entering his prime and provides a ton of value on special teams. If we do sign a big name WR FA, I'd love to draft either Ebron or Amaro. 


I'm happy with our RBs, and I think by investing in O-line talent, you take care of the supposed lack of talent we have at the position.

Brendan
Brendan

@harvlis  Not disgareeing with your breakdown, but you included OLB on a list of offensive positions, you left out RB and included OLB. 

Brendan
Brendan

@greggreen  Curious as to why people like Amaro over Ebron. All things the same, I'd much rather have Ebron. 

Brendan
Brendan

@kniff  Brick is already locked down for the near future, no need to worry about him. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Adam Cohen In 8 of his 11 years as an OC, MM had his RBs/FBs catch over 90 balls, with 2 seasons (his first 2 in Philly with weak WRs) over 120.  Last year, Jets RBs/FBs caught 56, which is close to a career low for an MM offense (the Eagles had @ that many for 1 season, but that's because Maclin, DeSean, Avant, Cooper and Celek wrere on the team).


Because it may take a couple of years to re-do the WR corps, adding a pass-catching RB capable of 60+ catches is both doable via the draft or free agency and necessary.  Powell, the leading pass-catcher at RB last season, doesn't have near the type of dynamism of Westbrook or McCoy.  If we want the Jets to improve the passing offense, no addition will have more bang for the buck than adding a legit pass-receiving RB.

jaygo
jaygo

@Adam Cohen  


Agree with you (though I'd put RB ahead of QB this spring).  OL issues marginalized by most fans who focus on so-called "skill positions."  Peyton looked a lot like Geno when he had constant pressure in the Super Bowl.  I was surprised they didn't go OL last year  until the third round but I assume they couldn't pass up Dee, Sheldon and Geno.  We were surprised with the Richardson pick last year and I predict we will be surprised by an OL pick this year, first or second round depending on how the board plays out.  It would only take a couple trade up moves for a "can't miss" OL guy to fall to 18.  I know this is the very minority view on this blog but I'm sticking to it.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @harvlis 

He also included CB. His list CLEARLY wasn't just OFFENSIVE Positions but inclusive of the whole team.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @greggreen 

Yet a month ago you had Amaro over Ebron......you should be able to understand it quite easily.


Bytor
Bytor

@SackDance99 @Adam Cohen  I agree, we tend to hear how rb is devalued. That may be true and in the case of the Rams, Broncos, Packers etc. just plug anyone in and they'll do. But for Marty and Geno a dynamic pass catcher would be awesome. We can use Ivory in a more specific role like end of games, weak d lines, bad weather and in general share carries to lessen wear and tear.


What do you think of using one of our thirds on someone like Sims if he gets there?

bklyndude
bklyndude

@SackDance99 @Adam Cohen I agree MM would like to either have a healthy Goodson or a rookie with very good receiving abilities.  De'Anthony Thomas looks like somebody who might be a target because of his ability and speed.

Which other RB's stand out as very good receiving out of the backfield.

levi
levi

@jaygo  I dont think our O line is so bad and lacking of depth that we should take one at 18.

harvlis
harvlis

@SackDance99 @BDarc23 I agree with you but, I wouldn't take chances with the line.  I am not sure that Winters will improve and I am not sure that Colon will be at full strength.  In addition, I am not impressed with their depth.  I expect us to have better weapons, this season but, the weapons won't be able to do much, if the line is mediocre. 

harvlis
harvlis

@BDarc23  I think we should sign a FA guard who could step in.  Then, if Ebron was not available at 18. I would like to draft a guy like Zach Martin, who could start at Guard and fill in at Tackle.  If that doesn't happen, I would look to take one of the top rated guards in the 2nd round.  I don't like last years rookies.  

SackDance99
SackDance99

@BDarc23 The OL would look a lot better with a more decisive QB with offensive weapons that would make the D ease up on 8-9 men in the box.  Spread the defense out more and all of a sudden the zone blocking works.  That being said Winters has to get a lot stronger and/or improve his leverage and technique.

BDarc23
BDarc23

Harvlis- In what way are you thinking to upgrade the O-line? Replace the Guards?

Brendan
Brendan

@harvlis I hear it, I just figured they're going to do another post for defense, so you'll just end up repeating yourself. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Brendan @SackDance99Yeah, I think of 1-2 as "early-"; 3-5 as "mid-"; and 6-7 as "late-" rounds.  4th is the last round, recently, where good value TEs, like Pitta, Hernandez, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Ladarius Green were taken, among a few others.  But, 1-3 are where the mega-studs, like Gronk, Graham, V. Davis and Gonzo were taken.  I don't think any TE in this class is in that league and 18 might be a little high for this group, but it's not that high that I'd protest all that much, especially since Eifert went at 21 last year and he's comparable to the best in this class...heck, Ebron might be more skilled as a pass-catcher. 

Brendan
Brendan

@SackDance99 For the record, 4th is "later-round" for me. I know it's a random label I just made up, but I was thinking mid-to-late 4th for him already, so if he lasts until their pick in that round I'd snag him up in a heartbeat. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Brendan @SackDance99Depending on how the Combine works out, he likely will not last longer than the 4th round.  Not many good TEs over the past 5-6 years have lasted until the 5th or later.  It would be great if he did, but the 4th is where unheralded TEs tend to be good value picks.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Brendan @greggreenBut, he was wildly overrated by fans on the TJB.  Remember how BB "stole" him and would make us pay?  What a crock!

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Brendan @greggreenI'm with you on Ebron, I'm just concerned about how tall he'll measure at the Combine.  I'm intrigued by Crockett Gilmore...what little tape there is on him looks pretty good.  Maybe the Jets can follow the Colts' example and draft 2 TEs.

Brendan
Brendan

@bklyndude Yeah, but this isn't a Giants board and Jets fans just stole the nickname for Chris, also. 

Brendan
Brendan

@greggreen I always felt that Chris Baker the Touchdown Maker was underrated as a player, but if given the choice between a Baker-type and Ebron-type, in today's NFL I'm taking Ebron. His lackluster blocking is balanced out by his exceptional pass-catching abliilty. 

harold
harold

Do you mean Fred Baxter?  I don't remember a Jeff Baker. 

harold
harold

On film he is an improving blocker who can become a very solid blocker in the pros.

I think he is big enough where he can fill out his frame in the pros.  I don't think based on looking at him that you should to worried about him in the pros.  In time he should be a good dual TE

Brendan
Brendan

@greggreen Well, if you want a "true" tight end, you should probably look at ASJ, then. Amaro and Ebron are both pass catchers. 

Brendan
Brendan

@greggreen I agree that teams inflate size, but we still have a general idea of where Ebron and Amaro are. Amaro looks slightly bigger, but Ebron looks much more athletic, imo. 


I don't think you can ignore size, though, you can at least gauge it based on how they look measuring up to their opponents. 

greggreen
greggreen

@Brendan @greggreen  lets wait until the combine before we list players size. college sites always make them bigger. i remeber crabtree was 6`3 before the combine and jefferies was 6`5. also nether amaro or ebron are fat or puggy guys so that 15 pounds is muscle 

Brendan
Brendan

@greggreen That's fair, but Keller was 6'2" and 240, Ebron is a long 6'4" and 245 pounds. And comparatively, Amaro is only listed at 260, so he's not exactly a huge size upgrade over Ebron. 


What I saw on tape with Ebron was an explosive player, but one with skill, too. He can make circus catches, but also be a move-the-chains guy. I see Amaro more as a Dallas Clarke type of TE, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but Ebron at times looked like a man playing with children out there. He makes tough catches in traffic, too. 


As far as I saw, Amaro didn't translate that small size advantage over Ebron into more consistent blocking, either. 

harold
harold

I liked Amaro as well.  But again he is not as good as Ebron or ASJ.  If he fell to the third.   I think he would be a good pick.  But since he is going higher in all likelihood, he is not someone I am really discussing for the Jets.

greggreen
greggreen

@a57se @Brendan @greggreen  Brendan his size and limitations as a blocker make me think of keller. Id like to see big body TE with good receiving skills. At least that my 2 cents on prefering amaro

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Bytor @SackDance99@Adam CohenI'm all for identifying the best RB for MM's system and getting him, whether in the 2nd (if warranted) or 3rd rounds.  I think it's a critically important upgrade for the offense.

harold
harold

Sims will almost certainly be there in the 3rd (unless he runs like a 4.35 40) and probably the 4th round.  Not many RB expected to go before 3rd.

brooklyn49
brooklyn49

@levi @jaygoWe should shore up the O line through FA. McQuistan from Seattle would be a good signing. I prefer Asamoah from Kansas City. I think it's a better value than spending a ton of money chasing Jarius Byrd. Also we should sign 2 FA receivers -- Maclin and a cheaper second one like Britt or Danario Alexander. Then draft a tight end -- I prefer Ebron -- in the first round and a pass rusher like Dee Ford in the second. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

@Brendan @harold In principle, taking a OG that high can be warranted if the team has the offensive skill position players that it needs, but I wouldn't target OG for the Jets at all for this draft and definitely not before the 4th round.

harold
harold

The disclaimer is not for you...  It is for others who question scout speak, from us commoners.

Brendan
Brendan

@harold  I really wasn't trying to spark up the Ijalana debate again, I was just making a joke. 


I'll ad Gabe to the list of G's I've yet to watch. I made it through WR's/TE's yesterday, I'm going to try to get through 1-2 position groups per week for the next month or two. 


Also, you don't need a disclaimer when discussing this stuff with me, I realize we're not experts, just a couple of guys with a computer and access to some film. 

harold
harold

@Brendan

I am just giving options.  We never know two years removed from injury Ijalana may be.

Also I have been advocating taking Gabe Jackson for a while.  He is a younger Colon in mind.  Very strong, good ability to get to 2nd level.  Solid pass protector.  Needs to do a little better re-anchoring when a player gets the upper hand with leverage.

This my scouting report,  based on my film. 

Sad I need to put a disclaimer.

Brendan
Brendan

@harold  I think late-2nd into the 3rd is the ideal spot to take a guard. 


And if they let Howard go, they're draft/signing a replacement, Ben Ijalana ain't that guy :). 

harold
harold

I was talking about OG with our 2nd round pick at the highest.  But more likely in the 3rd.  I have not advocated for an OG in the first round.  I don't think our situation is such that we would draft in the first unless we let Howard go and don't think Ijalana can do the job.  Tackles in the 1st round never a Guard.

Brendan
Brendan

@jaygo If Brick or Mangold gets hurt and goes down, no rookie is going to step in and pick up where they left off without issue. 


If one of those two goes down, the team is screwed. 

a57se
a57se

@SackDance99 @harold 

both Lewan and Martin are OT's though Martin has been projected to guard even though he did fine at LT in the Sr. bowl.

SackDance99
SackDance99

@harold Problem with getting an OG that high is there are value picks later and even UDFAs.  OG is where many college Ts end up, so the pool of potential NFL OGs might be the largest of any of the positions on offense or defense (any good college OL could be converted to OG and the Jets have even converted a DT (Moore) and are trying to do it again with Campbell).  Plus, after 3 OL picks in the last draft, picking up an OG in the 1st 3 rounds in this draft would be a tacit admission that last year's draft was a bust.

a57se
a57se

@harold  

I agree with you Harold and I think that process started last year with the Draft.

We need to groom a replacement for Brick while I already think we have a replacement being groomed for Mangold in Dalton Freeman. Many mocks have Zach Martin and Taylor Lewan as being available when we pick at 18....I wouldn't like it but if we did take one of those two I guess we'd be building for the future.

levi
levi

@jaygo I absolutely agree the game is won in the trenches. I just dont agree that we are that bad off (assuming Colon and Howard are signed) at the position. I just put Wr and TE at a higher priority for the #18 pick. But thats just my opinion.

bklyndude
bklyndude

@harold  I have to think the reason the Jets had 3 OL guys on the roster and inactive for every game last year is because they like and think those guys can contribute this year.

Otherwise,  if they stink,  I would agree.

harold
harold

I agree we need to get younger and better on the O-line.  I have been advocating for OG in the 1st 3 rounds.  I think it is much cheaper and you can get an instant starter in that range.

jaygo
jaygo

@levi @jaygo  I acknowledge I'm in the minority on this.  I only would take Matthews or Robinson at 18.  There are 5 or 6 really good guys that should fall to round 2.  Like Adam said, you get an injury to Brick or Mangold and we're done.  Winters is a big question mark.  Colon is a big question mark.  Howard is a free agent and, in my view, average at best.  Best draft in recent memory brought us Brick and Mangold. I say get a stud instead of constant retreads.  Build a foundation.  Good OL makes a QB, Wrs and RB look better.  Bad OL transforms Elite Eli to QB who led the league in INTs. My view and I'm sticking to it.