Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comIf you take a look at our free agency tracker, the Jets have been linked to a number of players at many different positions. With over $40 million in cap room available, let’s take a look at the players we think would be the team’s best choice to add through free agency at a few given positions.
WR – James Jones: In the Packers offense, Jones has been a very productive player although he’s never been the focal point of the offense. No matter, he’s a good athlete with good quickness, a physical game and who has worked out some issues with drops in the past few years. For a team like the Jets that was said to be interested in Jeremy Maclin before he was re-signed, a player like Jones represents the sort of upgrade the team was seeking rather than doubling down on a player like Emmanuel Sanders. The question of course is was Jones productive because of the Packers system or was he productive because he’s a good receiver? We think the answer lies in the middle but if the Jets make a number of upgrades and maybe even draft a long-term talent Jones will be a more featured part of the offense without needing to tilt the field.
RB – Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD’s career as a feature back is effectively over, but it is fair to ask whether the Jaguars offensive line was so bad it precipitated his decline. While the Jets need to add some pieces back to the line on the right side, they would represent a better line with which to work. If the Jets are indeed looking to become a run-first team this year then they will need to add more talent at the running back spot, most especially a player who can be utilized on third downs and in a pass catching capacity. Geno Smith seems talented with screen passes (something Sanchez never was) and adding a player like MJD could help Geno immensely.
OG – Geoff Schwartz: The Jets were said to have interest in Schwartz a year ago but it never worked out and he ended up playing spectacularly in relief of Jon Asamoah down the stretch for the Chiefs. Asamoah is rumored to be heading to Atlanta (though the Jets were interested) and so the Jets should turn their attention to Schwartz to help solidify the right side of the line, especially in the wake of the uncertainty right now with Austin Howard. Schwartz is a punishing run-blocker and can play on the left and right side.
QB – Mike Vick: This is the toughest one of the group, but for pure quarterbacking it isn’t close when comparing Vick to the likes of Matt Schaub or Josh McCown. It comes down to intent for the Jets; do they want someone to truly make a run at the starting spot besides Geno? If so then Vick is easily their man and the difference between signing him to a $6 million AAV or Schaub for $3 million AAV is infinite.
S – Donte Whitner: He was the top man on my safety free agent list and I think he fits exactly what Ryan would love to add to his secondary. He’s a hard hitting versatile safety who can stand up in both the run and against the pass. The expected prices for safeties seems to be sagging a little bit so the Jets could be able to get away with one of the best safeties in the class to pair with a potential top free agent corner and turbocharge their secondary with two bold moves.
CB – Alterraun Verner: Verner is not the same physical run stopping corner that we saw with Darrelle Revis but he is a good cornerback who seemed to finally understand how to play aggressive football in 2013 and it paid off. With Milliner already in the secondary, the team has a corner who can play the run well and so finding another on the left side won’t need to be a priority. If Verner were to be placed in a system like Rex Ryan’s with the support he’ll have around him, there’s no reason to think that Verner couldn’t be as good a player as Cromartie was, and his game is much less dependant on that speed (which Cromartie’s was until 2013) and more based on technique. Adding a player like Verner would give the Jets defense the pieces it was missing in 2013 and quickly tie this whole unit together.