Free Agency is right around the corner, and Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has promised to be more aggressive. A $70 million plus in cap space means Mac can burn some money to fill spots. So where should he start?
The Jets obviously have many problems on both sides of the ball. There are enough holes that need to be filled and putting duct tape over them won’t quite do the job. Defensively, the Jets need a lot of work but with the latest season in the books, it seems that it not as bad as people say it is. With additions of rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the safety position is at a high standard considering it’s their first year with the big dogs. In Free Agency, with a surplus of cornerbacks, OLB and DE, the Jets could have a field day with their enormous amount of cap space.
CB: E.J. Gaines – Malcolm Butler – Trumaine Johnson
With the cornerback position looking desperate for the Jets, any one of these three defensive backs can help get the team back in the game.
The youngest of the three is Gaines. His three forced fumbles, three picks and combined tackle total makes him an excellent candidate. He presents a lot of similarities to Buster Skrine, the Jets current CB.
Malcolm Butler is also on this list because he is the most likely candidate should the Jets go that route. He has the experience and knowledge of a veteran cornerback but is still in his prime. Since his pout at the Superbowl, it is safe to say that Butler and the Patriots are at a crossroads and it does not look good for either party. This could be beneficial for the Jets.
Lastly is Trumaine Johnson, the obvious choice. Johnson is a shutdown cornerback and is still in his prime. The last time the Jets had a corner with that sort of athleticism was with Darrelle Revis. Johnson can get the job done and more, but the only strings attached to him is his price tag, which could cost the Jets. It could also put a wrinkle in the Jets’ pursuit of Kirk Cousins.
OLB: Tahir Whitehead – Kareem Martin
The linebacker positions is always a hit or miss for the Jets. In 2017 season it was a hit, but the fact remains that there is a hit or miss status, and that needs to change.
Tahir Whitehead is the best candidate for the Jets at OLB. At only 27 he is still in his prime and can move to stop the play dead cold or rush to stop the QB. Racking up a grand total of two forced fumbles, three sacks and four interceptions over the past two season with 100+ tackles, Whitehead is a force. However, he would be a little pricey to get, but it would be worth it in the long run.
Kareem Martin is the other candidate who could also be the best candidate, depending on how you look at it. While not racking up as many tackles as Whitehead, Martin does have four and a half sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception. Depending on how the Jets will play defensively could be a swing for either man. It’s safe to say landing either one would be a win.
DE: Adrian Clayborn – DeMarcus Lawrence
Most of the Jets DE players are up for grabs this offseason. With Kony Ealy’s production on the rise since being cut from both the Panthers and the Patriots, coupled with Mike Pennel and David Bass, it a hit or miss who could be coming back, if any.
Ealy would be the best choice since he fit in perfect with the Jets defensive schemes, but should none of them come back, free agency has the Jets answer. Enter Adrian Clayborn.
Clayborn would be the best free agent candidate for the Jets. During his seven year stint he has racked up sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions that has helped him win NFC Defensive Player of the Week multiple times. While he is older than what Mac wants, he adds leadership and could become the new leader on defense.
Another option for the Jets is DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence could be a former Cowboy come March if they do not re-sign him. The five year vet has become an explosive player since coming into the league but has had some bumps in the road along the way. Mac will have to consider these things before offering him a contract this offseason. Regardless, he could be the explosion the Jets need.