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Football News

[Off-season] New York Jets: going all-in with Aaron Rodgers, try number 2

Season 2023 has just ended, and from March 13, the 202 campaign4 will open its doors. DNA of Sports therefore takes this opportunity to offer you an overview of the different franchises during the offseason. Which players to keep and cut? Which free agent to extend? Which recruits to observe? Here are some ideas, franchise by franchise. In the spotlight today, the New York Jets. You will find the files for each team on this page.

Back to square one for the New York Jets? After a ruined season at the same time as Aaron Rodgers' Achilles tendon – in the first game – New York remains in the unknown regarding its bet in the summer of 2023. Little has changed during the season among the Jets despite laborious weeks under the sign, once again, of a mediocre attack (31st in yards per game).

There is limited room to maneuver this offseason for Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh. The team has little money available ($7.5 million in payroll available for 2024) for free agency. The draft promises to be thin (two choices in the first two days only) which will inevitably be more focused on projects than on sure values.

The captains

  1. Gardner Sauce (CB)
  2. Quinnen Williams (DT)
  3. CJ Mosley (LB)

A defector from San Francisco, Robert Saleh copied and pasted the recipe that propelled his California defense to the Super Bowl. With a star on each line, the Jets' defense is nothing to worry about. Among defensive backs, Sauce Gardner – only 23 years old and twice All-Pro in two seasons – stands out as the new shutdown corner star of the league. He naturally draws comparisons to ex-Jets Darrelle Revis.

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In the center of the line, Quinnen Williams is a real billiard ball who steals the opposing offensive linemen and monopolizes the attention.

And between the two, CJ Mosley remains a top player (All-Pro in 2022) at the linebacker position.

The undesirables

  1. Zach Wilson (QB)
  2. CJ Uzomah (TE)
  3. John Franklin-Meyers (DE)

Zach Wilson must turn the page. Casting error, the former BYU quarterback became the laughing stock of the league by being replaced sometimes by Trevor Siemian, sometimes by Tim Boyle. If New York finds a team willing to attempt a trade, they would save more than $6 million, enough to almost double their leeway for free agency.

As for Aaron Rodgers' targets, Tight End CJ Uzomah is also too generously compensated. He is in fact the tenth highest paid TE in the league, and the eighth highest paid player on the Jets (11.2 million in 2024). Its production? 58 yards and 1 touchdown in 2023. Worse, Uzomah is no longer even the number 1 Tight End on his team and has been supplanted by Tyler Conklin. Cutting it would save $5.3 million.

Finally, defensive end John Franklin-Meyers is also in a situation comparable to CJ Uzomah. Signed at a high price in 2021 (4 years, $55 million), the player does not justify the investment he will represent in 2024 ($16.3 million). He is the 13th highest paid defensive end in the league, for a return of 3.5 small sacks in 2023, which is worse than 129 other players! 4 Jets players did better than him last season (Bryce Huff, Jermaine Johnson, Quinton Jefferson, Quinnen Williams and Solomon Thomas). Cutting Franklin-Meyers would free up $7.3 million.

The summer man

Aaron Rodgers (QB)

It's obvious: everything revolves and will revolve around Aaron Rodgers at the Jets. And if the quadruple-MVP quarterback spread rumors of a miracle recovery throughout the season, he ultimately never appeared while playing on the pitch at MetLife Stadium.

So the mystery remains. What is the condition of Rodgers' ankle? Has he regained all his abilities? If he cannot transfer all his weight to this famous left ankle, the entire throwing mechanics will be impacted.

Beyond the injury, Aaron Rodgers was already a gamble last year, coming off a season well below his standards in 2021 (26 TDs, 12 interceptions). The exception Brady had the disadvantage of making people believe in eternal youth, but there are many renowned quarterbacks that age has caught up with: Matt Ryan (37 years old) and Philip Rivers (39 years old) and their sad twilight at the Colts, the last season of Peyton Manning (39 years old) or that of Drew Brees (41 years old) tend to remind us that when a player is on the downward slope, the decline can be steep. Aaron Rodgers has just celebrated his 40th birthday.

Aaron Rodgers injury

The main free agents

  1. Bryce Huff (DE/LB)
  2. Duane Brown (LT)
  3. Quinton Jefferson (DT)
  4. Jordan Whitehead (S)
  5. Greg Zuerlein (K)

Others: Carl Lawson (DE), Chuck Clark (S), Randall Cobb (WR), Solomon Thomas (DE), Justin Hardee (CB), Al Woods (DT), Connor McGovern (C), Billy Turner (OT) , Thomas Morstead (P), Trevor Siemian (QB), Bryce Hall (CB)

Bryce Huff is THE surprise of the year for the New York Jets. The franchise's best sacker in 2023 (10 sacks), Huff came out of the hat after vegetating on the bench and special teams for 3 years previously. A free agent, he should attract attention. Duane Brown is no longer a player of the future, but a quick look at the Jets offensive line quickly makes it clear that an experienced left tackle leaving will be a loss.

On the other side of the ball, solid starters Quinton Jefferson and Jordan Whitehead also have the opportunity to ride on the performance of the defensive squad to land a big contract. Finally, it’s not anecdotal, reliable kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein is also a free agent this summer.

The New York Jets' top 5 needs

  1. Offensive Tackle
  2. Safety
  3. Guard
  4. Recipient
  5. Kicker

With 64 sacks conceded in 2023 (4th highest total in the league) by the Jets, the protection of Aaron Rodgers is the main project for the MetLife residents. Between injuries (Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker), disappointing performances, and free agents, New York has no certainty about its protective bulwark. Over the last two seasons, the Jets have used 21 different combinations in 34 games.

On the defensive curtain, both starting safeties (Jordan Whitehead and Chuck Clark) are free agents who could leave the franchise, and only Tony Adams seems to be a decent option.

The receiver position should also be considered. Besides Garrett Wilson (1,042 yards in 2023), there aren't many people. The second most productive is Allen Lazard. With only 311 small yards last year, he is not delivering up to his huge 4-year contract for 44 million (!).

Finally, specialists will also be considered, and even more so in a team that is fragile in attack. If Greg Zuerlein were to leave the ship, there are multiple options to replace him.

Target

Cedrick Wilson (WR)

If the Jets wish to strengthen their squad of receivers with free agents, their situation on the payroll limits access to the most coveted profiles. The Mike Evans and the Calvin Ridley will clearly be out of reach of the New York wallet.

Cedrick Wilson could therefore be an interesting bet. Barred in Miami by the two ball vacuums that are Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle (191 receptions between them, or 50% of the Dolphins' receptions in 2023), Wilson was an interesting third option. Mike McDaniel's established Miami offense comes from the Shanahan tree. This is also (in principle) the philosophy of Nathaniel Hackett, who worked for Matt LaFleur's Packers. Cedrick Wilson would therefore already be familiar with the concepts of the attack.

A good lieutenant for his namesake Garrett, in short.

New blood

JC Latham (OT, Alabama)

The Jets only have one draft pick in the first two rounds: pick number 10. Protecting Rodgers must and will be the priority for this high draft pick.

JC Latham, offensive tackle from Alabama, is part of the top of the basket of the next vintage and would be a valuable contribution to the Jets line. A physical monster reaching almost 2 meters and weighing more than 160 kg, Latham nonetheless remains rather mobile. Very powerful and endowed with the famous “violent hands”, he is particularly experienced in the running game.

Pass protection remains to be perfected, but his massive physique already makes him a difficult obstacle to get around for opposing pass rushers, like Trent Brown in his early years. The player is also not very versatile and only capable of playing right tackle at this point.

Alternative : Olu Fashanu (OT, Penn State), Joe Alt (OT, Notre Dame), Taliese Fuaga (OT, Oregon State)

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