Florham Park, NJ – For all intents and purposes, the Jets 2018 season is over. It’s week 12 of the 2018 season and the New York Jets (3-7) currently sit in last place in the AFC East, tied with the Buffalo Bills. Even though they haven’t been officially eliminated from the playoffs, they face the hardest part of the schedule with games against the Houston Texans, the Green Bay Packers, and the New England Patriots. The first meeting with the Pats is scheduled for this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. If the Jets losing streak continues, fans may find themselves watching meaningless games and rooting for a better draft pick. The one glimmer of hope is that the Jets will have $100 million in cap space next season. They can use that money to really fill in some big time holes. Of course, future free agents can be signed before March but let’s dream a little for a moment and pretend they will be available. Here is a look at some of the players that General Manager Mike Maccagnan should take a serious look at for next season:
In this upcoming off season, Le’Veon Bell is one of the biggest names in free agency and Jets fans are no strangers on hearing how he is the perfect fit for this Jet team. In February, Bell said he would sign with the Jets for $100 million but now it seems that his price has been lowered. Obviously, the price of around $17 million is costly but not out of the question. After being franchise tagged for the second straight season, Bell did not sign the tag and sat through every week of this season. In addition, he did not sign the franchise tender on November 13 and as a result will not play the rest of the year. At the age of 26 and with a year of rest, he has a few prime years left but his contract shouldn’t be for more than three years. With Bilal Powell’s career possibly over and Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, and Trenton Cannon still signed for next season, the Jets would finally have a star running back along with great depth to complement.
Bell has been a top 10 running back over the past four seasons and would really the give the Jets a boost at the running back position. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards three times in his career and has had averaged a career high 4.9 yards a carry in two seasons. He has also been a target for Ben Roethlisberger through the air with 312 receptions in 62 games played. This would help Sam Darnold find a trustworthy target for check down passes. Bell is also a three time pro bowler and a two time First-Team All-Pro player. Oh and most important, he is apparently a Jets fan.
The biggest problem the Jets have had this season is their offensive line. With constant pressure on the quarterback and failure to open running lanes for running backs, the Jets need to make some changes on the line. There are three offensive linemen the Jets might want to take a good look at.
The first is Mike Iupati, the starting left guard for the Arizona Cardinals. Iupati is a veteran in the NFL playing in his ninth season. He joined the Cardinals in 2015 after playing five years with the San Francisco 49ers. He has seen action in Super Bowl XLVII and is a four time pro bowler. What really makes him special is his ability to open up holes for running backs. Cardinals running back David Johnson is a big fan of Iupati saying “I know he’s going to get the block and he’s going to get that hole open for me. I know he’s going to cover up the guy, which is going to make my read easier as a runner.” Johnson added that “When Mike opens a hole, you know it.”
The second name is Cameron Fleming. Fleming is young and is in his fifth season in the NFL. At the age of 26, Fleming has won two Super Bowl wins with the New England Patriots and was a member of the team last season when they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. He’s been used as a swing tackle his entire career but the Jets should take a look at him and consider making him a starter. He is currently on a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys worth $2.5 million and seems like an inexpensive, yet reliable option for the Jets.
The third player is Daryl Williams. Williams has been the Carolina’s starting right tackle since 2017 and started all 16 games for them in 2017. During this past summer, Williams tore his MCL and dislocated his right kneecap. He was able to play in the Panthers first game of the season before being placed on the injury reserve after re-injuring his right knee. Nonetheless, Williams has been a solid player for the Panthers and like Fleming is only 26-years-old. As a rookie, he helped the Panthers reach Super Bowl 50 when they fell to the Denver Broncos. With his injuries he could be a risk but he also could be another option for the Jets if they want to add a younger offensive lineman.
A Defensive Lineman
The Jets defensive line has been a major disappointment this season. The line itself has accumulated only five and a half sacks. Leonard Williams has three and backup defensive end Henry Anderson has two and a half. A new face on the line might help shake things up for the Jets.
If Maccagnan really wants to splurge this off season, Ndamukong Suh should be his top target. Suh is known for being a physical, dominant force around the NFL that is absolutely fierce and will do whatever it takes to get to the quarterback. He is currently on a one-year contract worth $14 million with the Los Angeles Rams and his contract is taking up 7% of the team’s cap space. Currently, the Rams have about three million dollars in cap space but have a number of players like LaMarcus Joyner and Sam Shields about to hit free agency in March. Unless Suh takes a huge pay cut, he will be forced to test the free agency market and wind up as the new leader on the Jets defensive line. This season, he has 20 tackles, three and a half sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two pass defends.
A more likely player that the Jets could sign is Dante Fowler Jr. The Jets tried trading for Fowler around the trade deadline but the Jaguars ended up trading him to the Los Angeles Rams. Fowler is making $5.8 million this season off his rookie contract and will probably get a contract in the same range in free agency. Like Suh, the Rams may not elect to re-sign him due to cap issues so the Jets should definitely be one of his suitors. Fowler has appeared in 10 games this season and between the Rams and Jaguars has notched 11 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a pass defend.
Another name the Jets should go after is Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah. Ansah is one of the NFL’s most underrated players and doesn’t get the attention he should. Last season he had 39 tackles and 12 sacks in 14 games. He has been dealing with a shoulder injury this season and has been limited to four games. With Ziggy sidelined, the Lion’s pass rush has been non-existent which shows how much of an impact he has on the game. He has three sacks this season in the four games played. Now that he has returned from his injury, the Jets should really keep an eye on him.
The last player the Jets should consider for their defensive line is defensive tackle Grady Jarrett of the Atlanta Falcons. Jarrett is about to finish his rookie contract and is having the best year of his career. He has a combined 30 tackles, three sacks, and has reached the quarterback nine times in eight games this season. His career high sacks in a season is four which he should be able to pass. At the age of 25, he seems to be a promising young player that could be locked up with a long contract.
One of the reasons, the Jets have $100 million in cap space is because they will have 29 players whose contracts are up. Here are some of the key players that the Jets should re-sign.
Wide Receivers: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Andre Roberts
Tight End: Eric Tomlinson
Linebackers: Brandon Copeland and Jeremiah Attaochu
Defensive End: Henry Anderson
Kicker: Jason Myers
It’s not every year that a team gets to spend $100 million in cap space in the off season. Mike Maccagnan has the chance to really shake things up, improve this team and get rid of some of the dead weight in March. If the team flops next season, look for Maccagnan to end up on the chopping block. Happy Shopping Mike!