We are now just a few days away from the official start of NFL free agency, and the negotiation period is set to start at noon on Tuesday. With the slew of cuts that the Jets’ have made to this point of the offseason, there’s a sense of excitement amongst the fan base that was not present during the last year. Gang Green will have a significant amount of money to spend as they look to re-vamp their roster. With that being said, here’s my list of the top five free agents that the Jets should be making a major play for.
Current Team: Houston Texans
This year’s cornerback free agency class is certainly not barren as big names such as Stephon Gilmore and Logan Ryan are set to hit the market amongst many other talented players. However, there’s one name aside from those guys that should particularly standout to Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, and it’s A.J. Bouye. In the Texans talented secondary with corners like Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph, Bouye managed to emerge as the team’s number one corner over the course of the 2015-2016 season. Bouye quickly proved his worth in man coverage as his size and technique have propelled him towards being a top corner in the NFL. His press coverage ability along with his physicality and ability to play in man coverage specifically would make him the perfect fit for head coach Todd Bowles’ system. Another factor that should make Bouye incredibly attractive to the Jets is his ripe age of just twenty five years old. For a team looking to rebuild with youth, Bouye is the perfect option as he could be the team’s star corner for many years to come. Bouye’s price range will likely be around twelve million dollars, but he would be worth every penny for the Jets.
QB Mike Glennon
Current Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As usual, the Jets are continuing their search for a long-awaited franchise quarterback. Being that the quarterback draft class is very poor, the best options seem to be either via free agency or trade, and there is one name that currently stands out in the current free agent pool. Bucs’ backup quarterback Mike Glennon was a third round draft pick in 2013. He started in thirteen games for a very poor Bucs team during his rookie season and played very solid football throwing 19 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions. The following season, he was foolishly replaced by incoming free agent quarterback Josh McCown. Glennon went on to start in six games where he threw 10 touchdowns to 6 interceptions and improved upon his yards per game total by 36 yards. This is the last regular season action that Glennon saw, which worries many critics about rust and experience level. With that being said, there is a lot that the Jets have to like about the twenty seven year old starting with his relatively young age. Glennon has great stature for a quarterback at 6’6” 225 pounds. His mechanics are generally good and he has outstanding arm strength allowing him to make electric throws down the field. He throws a beautiful football to all distances of the field as he gets great zip on the ball. In terms of accuracy and efficiency, Glennon’s career completion percentage would place him around the likes of Phillip Rivers and Jameis Winston. With this set of skills, Glennon certainly has the potential to be a good starting quarterback in the NFL making him a free agent that must be on Maccagnan’s radar. Even if the price tag is a little higher than some might like, the Jets should aggressively pursue Mike Glennon.
SS Tony Jefferson
Current Team: Arizona Cardinals
After an abysmal season in the defensive secondary, the Jets will definitely be looking for help in every way they can this offseason. There are plenty of options in free agency and the draft. One of the best of them is Cardinals’ strong safety Tony Jefferson. When discussing the Jets’ potential interest in Jefferson, his connection with head coach Todd Bowles has to be made. As the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, Bowles oversaw Jefferson’s breakout season in 2014 as well as another productive season from Jefferson a season later. This connection unquestionably makes Jefferson a very realistic target for the Jets. At the young age of twenty five, he would be a mainstay in the Jets defensive secondary for years to come. In 2013, Jefferson joined as the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, and since then, he has developed into one of the better all around safeties in the NFL. He has the dual-threat ability to play at a high level around the line of scrimmage as well as in coverage. He is solid while blitzing as well, which adds even more value to his already very well rounded skill set. In terms of production, Jefferson is coming off of the best season of his career in which he recorded 96 combined tackles with 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, and 5 pass deflections. With all of these factors considered, Jefferson would be an awesome player for the Jets to add to their defense. Expect his price range to be in the 7-9 million dollar range making him more than affordable for the Jets. They would be foolish not to pursue him.
Current Team: Detroit Lions
Coming off of a season where they had major problems protecting the blindside and having a major hole at the left tackle position, it’s clear that the New York Jets will have to address this vital position. Unfortunately, there is not much of a tackle market in free agency and the tackle draft class is very weak as well. There are a few nice stop-gap options on the free agent market though, and the best one is starting right tackle for the Detroit Lions, Riley Reiff. Reiff was a first round draft pick by the Lions in 2012. Up until this past season, Reiff started at the left tackle position for Detroit, and he was regarded around the league as a relatively average player. He made the switch to right tackle this past season, but because of his past experience on the left side, teams in need of a blindside protector will be very interested in his services. The Jets should undoubtedly be one of them. His age of twenty eight years old would allow him to be a stop-gap player for as long as they’d need until they find their solution at left tackle. His price range should be around the 4-6 million dollar range when he hits the market making him very affordable. Don’t be surprised if the Jets at least have some type of interest in the veteran O-lineman.
ILB Gerald Hodges
Current Team: San Francisco 49ers
After drafting an inside linebacker in last year’s draft, some might feel as if it’s not exactly the biggest need for the Jets. However, with long-time starting inside linebacker David Harris getting up there in age, the search for a replacement should be well underway. There are a few intriguing replacement options in both free agency in the draft, and free agent Gerald Hodges would be a great fit for the Jets. Hodges was drafted by the Vikings in 2013, but he has spent the last two season in San Francisco after being traded during the 2015 season. After getting settled with his new team during the 2015 season, Hodges broke out in 2016 with 83 combined tackles, 3 sacks, 2 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions in fifteen games. What would make Hodges a good fit for the Jets apart from his age is his modernized skillset. While Hodges has decent size and is effective in run defense, what makes him standout is his quickness, which gives him the ability to go against running backs and tight ends in both man and zone coverage. This is a skillset that the Jets have been lacking in their linebacker corps for years. Obviously, this would make Hodges a very welcomed addition to the roster, and he could probably come on a bargain deal given that he is not exactly a household name around the league to this point. With all of that said, the Jets would be smart to go after Gerald Hodges this offseason.