The NFL's offseason is now underway it's going to be one of the most important in the history of the Jets' franchise. They have a new coach, they have a franchise quarterback, and they have about $100 million in salary cap room to spend on a relatively barren roster.
General Manager Mike Maccagnan can turn things around quickly. Or he could turn the Jets into an even bigger mess.
He's already begun making his plans to reshape the roster for the 2019 season, of course, and beginning Monday he can start to put that plan into action. The big day for the Jets will be the start of NFL free agency on March 13, but there will be plenty of cuts, restructured contracts and other maneuvers in the next few weeks as they get ready.
Here are some of the biggest decisions they face:
Are they going all in on Le'Veon Bell? It sounds like they are, assuming the Steelers don't use the "transition" tag on him. If they do, the Jets can still go after Bell, but it becomes a little more complicated and would have to involve a trade. They seem to want the Steelers running back, though, and Jets safety Jamal Adams has made it clear he wants Bell. According to sources, Bell prefers Indianapolis, but there's no indication the Colts want him. Regardless, the Jets understand they have to be the high bidders and then some to lure Bell to New York. How does five years, $85 million with $45 million guaranteed sound? That's what NFL Network reported he wanted back in November.
Will they dive into the trade market for a No. 1 receiver? The Jets' desperately need a No. 1 receiver, but there just aren't any in the free-agent pool unless you consider Golden Tate a No. 1 receiver. The Jets also aren't likely to take one if they stay at No. 3 in the draft. But the trade market includes some very interesting possibilities, including Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. He's reportedly available, but likely for a first-round pick. The Jets can't give up the third pick for him, especially since they don't own a second-rounder. But if they can strike a deal that includes a future No. 1? Hmmmm … He comes with a lot of baggage, though, which might not fit into their plan of cleaning up their locker room. Another potential target is Cincinnati's A.J. Green, but he's a constant injury risk. Who knows who else is available, though? The Jets will have to look.
Will they consider trading Leonard Williams? The former first-rounder will make $14.2 million this season, in the fifth year of his rookie deal. Given that he has 17 sacks in his first four seasons, he is not worth that price. Now the Jets are expected to switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and it's unknown whether new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a plan for him. He might be the only guy, at this point, that can squeeze production out of Williams. If he can't? Well, the feeling around the league seems to genuinely be that Williams has been misused over the years and that's why he's underperformed. Surely there's a team out there somewhere that will think it's worth a shot (and a decent draft pick) to try and turn him around).
How much rebuilding do they have to do on their offensive line? This is not a great free agent class of offensive linemen, which is bad news for a team that needs help at left guard, center and right tackle. Here's another problem: It's not like their left tackle (Kelvin Beachum) and right guard (Brian Winters) were dominant. Given all the help they need, the Jets will probably bring both of them back. They could save $8 million by cutting Beachum, though, and another $6.5 million by cutting Winters. It doesn't make a lot of sense to start over with five new offensive linemen, of course, but maybe a couple of pay cuts would be in order.
Is RB Isaiah Crowell worth keeping around? The former Browns running back battled injuries in his first season with the Jets, rushed for only 685 yards (219 of which came in one game) and mostly got noticed for wiping his butt with the football to celebrate a touchdown. Swell. Now consider the Jets could save $4 million by cutting him and the free agent market for running backs is deep, starting with Bell. The Jets also like Elijah McGuire, who could be a very good backup to somebody else. They might even bring injury prone Bilal Powell back at a reduced rate. Crowell hardly seems worth the money.
Do they have any use for WRs Robby Anderson or Jermaine Kearse? The Jets desperately need help at receiver, and so far all they've done is bring back Quincy Enunwa with a four-year, $36 million contract. Robby Anderson is a restricted free agent and he's got enough deep speed that the Jets will likely bring him back by using the second-round tender at about $3.1 million. Kearse, meanwhile, is an unrestricted free agent. He was a really reliable receiver in 2017 (65-810-5) but he was mostly terrible and invisible last season (37-371-1). Was that just a bad year in a bad offense? If the Jets think it is, they could do worse with this classy veteran as their fourth receiver.
Is DE Henry Anderson a fit for new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme? One of the best moves Maccagnan made last season was stealing Anderson from the Indianapolis Colts for a seventh-round pick. He had seven sacks and became one of the Jets' best and most consistent pass rushers. He was available, though, because the Colts were switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense and he no longer fit their scheme. Well, now the Jets may be switching. Does that mean Anderson is expendable again? He's an unrestricted free agent, but doesn't figure to get a ton of offers. If Williams can find a way to use him, then the Jets will try to bring him back.