The Jets got off to a strong start in free agency on Monday, accepting deals with Laken Tomlinson, CJ Uzomah, Braxton Berrios and Tevin Coleman. Here are some takeaways from what the Jets have been up to and what could be coming soon.
1. Jets general manager Joe Douglas probably wants to avoid defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich right now, given that all of Douglas’ moves on Monday were offensive. It comes after he used his first four draft picks on offense last year. At some point, Douglas has to tackle the Jets defense at 32nd and help Ulbric.
That help could arrive on Tuesday. The Jets are watching the safety, cornerback and defensive line markets and Douglas will pounce if he sees value there. Marcus Williams was considered the best safety around, but he signed with the Ravens on Tuesday afternoon, earning $14 million a year. I never felt like the Jets were in love with Williams. Tyrann Mathieu is still there, but the Jets could wait until the draft to talk safety. At cornerback, the big name is Stephon Gilmore, but the Jets aren’t interested in him. Casey Hayward and Darious Williams are the other top cornerbacks available. The Jets should leave with a safety and a cornerback before the end of the week.
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The Jets lost Folorunso Fatukasi on Monday when the defensive tackle agreed to a deal with the Jaguars that will pay him $10 million a year. Nathan Shepherd is also a free agent, although he could return. Douglas will have to approach the position either in free agency or in draft. The Jets had been linked to DJ Jones of the 49ers, but he agreed to a deal with the Broncos.
Another interesting name that hit the market on Tuesday is Myles Jack, who was released by the Jaguars. Jets coach Robert Saleh was the linebackers coach at Jacksonville when Jack was drafted in 2016 and coached him during his rookie season. The Jets could use some help at linebacker and maybe Saleh is interested in a reunion.
2. A source who spoke to Jets quarterback Zach Wilson said Monday that the sophomore signalman was excited about the moves the Jets made. It’s easy to see why. Douglas helped his protection by adding Tomlinson up front, eliminating the biggest hole the Jets had on the line at right guard. He also gave him a good tight end target at Uzomah, which the Jets lacked in Wilson’s rookie season. Finally, they brought back Berrios, who shared great chemistry with Wilson last year. The Jets could still add another wide receiver to help Wilson, but Monday was a good day for the quarterback entering his second year.
3. Signing Tomlinson has an interesting effect on the prospects for the NFL Draft next month. It now seems very unlikely that the Jets will return an offensive lineman with one of their first-round picks. It was thought the Jets would draft one of the best tackles — Evan Neal or Ickey Ekwonu — at No. 4 and play them guard for a season. There is no more opening there. Signing Tomlinson makes it more likely that Douglas will take the best defensive player available at No. 4, whether it’s point carrier Kayvon Thibodeaux, cornerback Sauce Gardner or safety Kyle Hamilton. Then he could take a wide receiver at No. 10, where Drake London and Garrett Wilson are listed as the first available pick. He can still draft an offensive lineman on Day 2 or 3, but that now seems unlikely to happen in the first round.
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