Jets free agency thoughts: Odell Beckham Jr. signing still a possibility

If it feels like the Jets have had quiet free agency, it’s probably because the loudest thing they can do right now – trade for Aaron Rodgers – hasn’t happened yet. .

It’s not a question of whether that deal with the Packers will happen, but when — and for how much. That’s the sticking point right now: The Packers want more than the Jet is willing to give, so both teams are playing a game of chicken to see who moves first to wrap it up.

If the deal doesn’t materialize this week, it may well next week, when the Packers and Jets chiefs are together in Arizona for the NFL’s annual league meetings.

My original trade prediction still stands: The Jets trade a second-round pick, a conditional 2024 third-round pick and a wide receiver — Corey Davis and/or Denzel Mims — to the Packers for Rodgers and a late-season pick. round in 2023.

Until that trade is complete, it’s hard to fully assess the Jets’ offseason, or even figure out what they might do in the fast-approaching NFL Draft.

But there are still plenty of non-Rodgers topics to discuss, including some players the Jets have actually added to their roster — and more to come.

Here are five thoughts from the Jets after the first wave of free agency.

1. The possibility of Odell Beckham Jr.

Maybe that won’t happen until the Rodgers trade is settled, but there’s real smoke surrounding the possibility of Beckham joining the Jets, one of the teams he’s seriously considering. It’s unclear, however, how much the Jets are offering — or how much they’re willing to pay to sign him.

At this point, you know the pros and cons of Beckham. When he’s healthy, he’s an elite receiver – he just hasn’t been healthy in a long time. He hasn’t even played since the 2021 season. But it’s clear the idea of ​​playing together has piqued the interest of both Beckham and Rodgers. If the Jets are serious about trying to sign Beckham, it would be interesting to see the domino effect in the wide receiver room.

The Jets could potentially have one of the NFL’s most talented wide receiver quartets: Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Elijah Moore, Mims and Beckham. But we saw last year what happens when Moore feels like he doesn’t have enough ball. With Beckham in the fold, he would be, at best, fourth in the wide receiver pecking order. That’s not even taking into account tight ends (Tyler Conklin, CJ Uzomah), running backs and whether the Jets also sign wide receiver Randall Cobb.

If Beckham is there, perhaps it’s safe to predict that Moore is on his way out.

If the Jets are truly all-in and want to add some Beckham-esque talent at wide receiver, it might not be the worst idea to explore a trade for one of the best perceived wide receivers available, like DeAndre Hopkins. (Cardinals) or Courtland Sutton (Broncos).


Signing Allen Lazard from the Jets secures one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite wide receivers

2. What to do in the center

The Jets seem ready to let Connor McGovern sign elsewhere. They sued Jake Brendel to start free agency before he returned to the 49ers. Now they’ve been hooked up with Titans center Ben Jones, which is a clear complement to the presence of former Titans coaches Keith Carter and Todd Downing on the Jets staff.

Jones and McGovern are the best remaining centers in a dwindling class of free agency. Jones, 33, was released this offseason after missing a handful of games with concussions. He was voted into the Pro Bowl, however, and was consistently one of the NFL’s most enduring centers, starting 128 of a possible 129 games from 2014-21 with the Texans and Titans. Pro Football Focus ranked him ninth best center in 2022, seventh in 2021 and fourth in 2020.

The Jets have yet to add any new starters to the offensive line, although they reportedly pursued tackle Orlando Brown Jr. before he signed with the Bengals. They signed two inside linemen – Wes Schweitzer and Trystan Colon – but neither is expected to be a starter. Schweitzer has started 60 games in his career, mostly as a guard, although he played center last year. He’s a sure bet to be the Jets’ best substitute inside. Colon (four career starts) will have to compete for a spot on the roster.

3. What to do at defensive tackle

The Jets suffered a major loss when Sheldon Rankins signed the Texans to a one-year, $10.5 million contract. If the Jets really wanted him back, however, they would have been willing to match that – especially since they offered Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox more than that in free agency before he opted to return. in Philadelphia.

The Jets have re-signed rotating backup Solomon Thomas to a one-year, $2.25 million deal, but right now it’s only Thomas and Quinnen Williams who are the most important defensive tackles on the roster. depths. Nathan Shepherd also signed with the Saints.

Clearly, general manager Joe Douglas is looking to improve the position if he pursues Cox, but free agency options are dwindling. Some of the best remaining interior defensive linemen available in free agency include Poona Ford, Calais Campbell, Akiem Hicks, Quinton Jefferson, Derrick Nnadi and Linval Joseph, who the Jets attempted to sign in training camp last year.

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4. New bettor

If it wasn’t clear the Jets were ready to leave punter Braden Mann, Thomas Morstead’s return likely seals his fate. Jets coaches praised Mann’s potential, especially special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, but he never quite delivered on the promise that made him a 2020 sixth-round pick.

adam schefter reported the Jets buy Mann in a trade, but it’s more likely they just cut him at some point this offseason.

Morstead, 37, was actually with the Jets in 2021 to replace an injured Mann. Now he will probably replace him, or at least compete for his position.

5. The Allen Lazard Contract

It is remarkable how Douglas has structured all of his free agent contracts, replacing them with a small cap of 2023. This has allowed the Jets to continue to pursue free agents while not yet taking steps to save money. ceilings — like cutting Davis or restructuring CJ Mosley — until they absolutely have to. Lazard’s deal will only carry a cap of $3.26 million in 2023, but it will increase to $12.18 million in 2024 and then to $13.184 million in 2025 and 2026.

Other multi-year Jets contracts with small-cap hits in 2023 before increasing: Quincy Williams ($2.4 million in 2023, $6.9 million in 2024 and 2025) and Schweitzer ($1.6 million in 2023, $2.3 million in 2024). It’s even more evident with players whose deals have been restructured: Guard Laken Tomlinson’s 2023 cap has dropped to $5.28 million, defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers to $7.6 million. dollars, cornerback DJ Reed at $7.99 million, Uzomah’s at $6.72 million and Conklin’s at $6.08. million.

Douglas had mostly avoided kicking the box to start his GM tenure, but that changed this offseason for several reasons: the Jets don’t have as much cap space, they’re trying to win now and the salary cap should disappear sharply increased in the coming years. The downside of restructuring all of these deals is that it’s harder to cut these players for cap savings in future years, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Even with all the restructuring, the Jets are still projected for $85 million in cap space in 2024, per Over the Cap.

(Picture: Rob Carr/Getty Images)


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Sara Adm

Amateur tv aficionado. Freelance zombie junkie. Pop culture trailblazer. Organizer. Web buff. Social media evangelist.
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