The New York Jets obviously need to make a few notable acquisitions if they hope to improve on the potential they showed in 2022, and it seems the team has a path to free up a ton of money to make some of those bold moves possible.
Despite a disappointing and frustrating six-game-losing streak to end the season, the 7-10 New York Jets were still ahead of schedule on a rebuild led by general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh. Obviously, the team lacks a reliable player at quarterback, but they had the AFC rookies of the year on both defense and offense, along with a defense that became one of the best in the league and is only getting better.
That is why there is a belief around the organization that a few key moves could make them a contender in the AFC next season. However, you need salary cap space to make moves and the Jets don’t have much. However, on Tuesday, long-time Jets insider Rich Cimini explained how they could reasonably free up a huge amount of cap space.
“[The Jets] can clear about $40 million by restructuring linebacker C.J. Mosley and cutting wide receivers Braxton Berrios and Corey Davis, tackle Duane Brown, and safety Jordan Whitehead. They can get to $55 million with the nuclear option, which would mean releasing defensive end Carl Lawson.”– Rich Cimini
6 players the New York Jets could target in a trade or NFL free agency
While losing some of those players wouldn’t be easy, it is a group that can be slashed from the roster without damaging the team’s core. Especially if it allows them the flexibility to make a few moves that take them to an elite level.
With that in mind, let’s look at six players the New York Jets could target if they were able to clear up $50 million or more of salary cap space.
Aaron Rodgers is the big fish, game-changer talent the team has been linked to for weeks. It is still undecided if the future Hall-of-Famer would accept a trade to New York, but if he does he would certainly make them a contender.
Plus, even after restructuring his contract, the team has to make room under the cap to add the over $100 million left on his deal. This means several of the aforementioned players would be guaranteed to be cut after a Rodgers trade anyway.
Tony Pollard had a career year for the Dallas Cowboys in 2022. He had over 1,000 rushing yards for the first time and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. There is a chance the Cowboys could franchise tag him, however, if they went in a different direction he could be a great addition if the Jets adds a veteran QB less expensive than Rodgers.
The New York Jets will have rookie Breece Hall back in 2023, however, after returning from an ACL tear and only playing in seven games, it is difficult to assume he is sure to recapture the impact form he had before his injury. Furthermore, a Hall and Pollard combo could be a dynamite backfield duo for New York.
Jimmy Garoppolo would check off a lot of boxes for the Jets. He is a reliable veteran QB who has won consistently at the highest level, has prime years in front of him, and would come at an affordable rate. A “Jimmy G” signing makes a lot of sense because it could also allow the team to improve other areas with the available cap space and still make them much better next season.
While improving the offense will be the goal this offseason, that doesn’t mean the New York Jets can’t strengthen their defense. If Whitehead were to be a salary cap victim, making a push for Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl safety Jordan Poyer could be an outstanding replacement option to keep their defense strong for next season while giving New York the best secondary in the sport.
The New York Jets’ next quarterback will have a strong go-to option in ROTY Garrett Wilson, however, they need more weapons. Especially if Corey Davis and Braxton Barrios are cap casualties. In that case, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz would be a worthwhile target at a fair price who could fill a key need as a reliable red zone option.
With offensive tackle Duane Brown likely to be cut, and Mekhi Becton’s return from a second major knee injury a big question mark, targetting one of the better tackle options in NFL free agency would be a smart move for the New York Jets.
San Francisco 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey could be the player they go after. While he did not live up to his potential for much of his career, he took a massive leap forward in 2022 and the team could be landing a player at a key position just entering their prime.