The New York Jets have the one thing every team is looking for as they attempt to become a viable NFL contender once more. Surrounding second-year quarterback Sam Darnold with talent is their goal now, and they have the assets to make that happen in short order this NFL offseason.
With that in mind, it’s time to develop a blueprint for New York’s offseason.
Build a brick wall: If Darnold is going to succeed — both short and long term — he’ll need better protection up front. To that end, here are the steps the Jets should take.
- Sign offensive tackle Trent Brown — a mauler in the run game and a solid pass protector — in free agency.
- Sign guard Roger Saffold to a front-loaded, short-term deal in free agency.
- Sign center Matt Paradis in free agency.
- Trade down from No. 3 overall with a team that is desperate for a quarterback, which is already on the radar for general manager Mike Maccagnan.
- Draft left tackle Jonah Williams out of Alabama or Dalton Risner out of Kansas State with that first pick.
Weapons, weapons, weapons: Darnold was hard pressed at times last year because he had so little talent around him in the passing game. What do the Jets need to do to fix this?
- Break the bank for Le’Veon Bell in free agency — no better way to help a young quarterback than by giving him a running back that can do it all, both on the ground and through the air.
- Bring in a veteran receiver who can make the tough catch on third downs, such as Golden Tate or Pierre Garcon (assuming he’s healthy).
- Invest a couple early-to-mid-round draft picks into the receiver position. Landing the likes of JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler or Parris Campbell would do wonders for the offense’s ability to strike fear into the heart of opposing defenses.
Mentorship is important: There is a ton of value in signing a tenured veteran who has the ability to communicate and teach, which is why the Jets should lure Josh McCown back for another season.
Defense is important, too: The Jets are stocked at a few key positions but still have needs on the defensive side of the ball.
- Use some of that deep well of cap space to sign a top edge rusher like Preston Smith, Trey Flowers, or Ezekiel Ansah.
- Bring in a veteran cornerback like Shareece Wright or Bradley Roby to bring leadership and much-needed talent to that secondary.
- Look for a middle linebacker in the middle of the draft, like Blake Cashman out of Minnesota or Drue Tranquill.
The bottom line: With more than $100 million in cap space heading into free agency, and with one of the top picks in the draft, the Jets are set up to take huge positive strides in 2019. They just need to ensure that Sam Darnold is protected, has weapons and that the defense does not fall off with the departure of Todd Bowles.