New York Jets NFL offseason preview: It’s all about Zach Wilson…or is it? – New York Jets Blog

FLOREHAM PARK, NJ – The New York Jets’ 2021 season didn’t yield tangible results (4-13 record and lots of ugly stats, especially on defense), but the goal of the year was to play the kids and decide which ones could be part of the foundation for the future. The rookies played a total of 5,681 shots, second only to the Detroit Lions (5,989), according to ESPN Statistics and Information.

Wide receiver Elijah Moore and back-to-back Michael Carter showed the most potential, with guard Alijah Vera-Tucker less. Midfielder Zach Wilson and Cornerback Brandin Echols have experienced more pain than the others, but the organization is still high on its future. They must be right about Wilson. If not, then coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas’ system would have failed.

The return of defensive end Karl Lawson (no games played) and wide receiver Corey Davis (nine games), both returning from injuries, should help a lot. Despite injury and personnel issues on both sides of the ball, the Jets have been competitive over the last month, leading to internal optimism that the rebuilding plan is working.

Expected maximum salary area: $47,464,306

The most important free agents: WR/KR Braxton Berrios, S Marcus Maye, DT Folorunso Fatukasi, WR Jamison Crowder

Possible candidates for cutting: Cover-wise, they’re in very good shape, so there’s no immediate pressure to throw out the paycheck. Tight-end Ryan Griffin ($3 million savings) and guard Greg Van Ruten ($3.5 million) are potential cutbacks, but their cap fees aren’t starkly out of their veteran backups. If things get tight, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins ($5.4 million) could be a name worth watching. Linebacker CJ Mosley’s streak will not be cut because he took a $16 million guarantee in 2022, which means the ceiling hit is exorbitant, but he may be required to do a routine restructuring to cut his hefty $17.5 million fee.

What you need to know: It’s Joe time! This should be an off-season turning point for Douglas, who scored 6-27. Last year was big, too, due to Wilson’s change for Sam Darnold, but this is the year. Douglas owns four of the first 38 draft picks, having added capital with deals from Darnold and Jamal Adams. There’s no excuse for the team not to make a big leap in 2022. The Cincinnati Bengals’ rapid turnaround proves it doesn’t have to last forever.

The big question: Help Wilson or reconfigure the defense? Planes can do everything on one or the other, but here’s the beauty of their situation: They have enough resources to attack both sides of the game plan via draft and free agency.

Conventional wisdom says to do whatever it takes to help the midfielder. In the case of the Jets, that could mean giving Wilson another broad future, a court finish, and another man of the line. But they can also help him by playing a better defense. The Jets allowed a 504-point franchise record, which put Wilson in several catch-up positions. Do you know how many passes he attempted while leading by seven points or more? Only 18. It would be more than the same unless they added three starters in minor and another edge.

Douglas invested heavily in attacking in his first two drafts, and three of the four most expensive free-agent signings were on this side of the ball (Davis, center Conor McGovern, left-footed George Vant). It’s time to flip the script and help the defense to his defensive-minded coach.

Best off-season team scenario: Tackle Mekhi Becton appears healthy and in good shape for the conditioning program in April. As for the list, they can divide their needs into two categories: immediate needs (security, narrow end, wide receiver and protection) and upgrades (edge ​​hacker, corner backs, and handling). A good offset might look like this: Tight end CJ Uzomah and Safety Terrell Edmunds in free Agency, with passer Kayvon Thibodeaux, wide receiver Drake London and linebacker Andrew Booth Jr. in the draft.

The worst-case scenario for an off-season team: Four picks in the top 38 are like fishing in a barrel, right? Well, it’s common knowledge that planes don’t fly very close, so you never know. The only thing they can’t do is become so obsessed with supporting Wilson that they forget about defense, which is lacking in playmakers on all three levels. It would be a misuse of their resources if they failed to get out of it with an advanced player and a ball hawk in high school.

An early look at the NFL Draft, from ESPN analyst Jordan Reed: With four picks in the top 38, the Jets have an excellent opportunity to continue adding talent to the roster. Douglas has earned a good return from his 2021 semester, and he has a chance to speed up the rebuilding process if he can do it all over again. The Jets had a historically poor defense in 2021 scoring only seven interceptions (the second worst attack in the league), so an improvement in the secondary is a must. The defensive end is another situation that must be addressed as the team cannot generate consistent pressure to oppose fouls. The top defender under Douglas came during the third round of the 2020 Draft when he picked safety Ashton Davis. This is likely to change this year.

Most important needs: CB, EDGE, WR

Top Picks: No. 4 and 10