After the 2017 demolition, now comes the rebuild. Last year, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan cleared out a lot of the dead wood in the squad, but this time around he’s been busy filling in the gaps and addressing the several areas where the Jets need to strengthen.
The frenetic free agency action has led to a host of new players on the roster, though the work on rebuilding this team is still not done. Having missed out on Kirk Cousins, Maccagnan will be looking for another quarterback in the draft, along with reinforcements at tight end and kick returner. If they can add a successful draft to their positive free agent dealings, then fans who bet on the NFL with Stakers.com will start to consider them serious AFC contenders.
However, that’s for the future. For now, let’s take a look at the new arrivals and find out how they can help Gang Green get better.
Everyone knows that the Jets need to strengthen at quarterback, and it’s likely that they’ll use their draft pick on one of Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen – so why go for Bridgewater? The four-year veteran has a lot to prove after taking only nine snaps for the Vikings in 2018, but Jets fans should remember that he is only 25, and made the Pro Bowl in 2015. He has a healthy accuracy rate of 65 percent, and has a reputation as a good leader on the field. Sure, there’s a chance that his knee won’t hold out, which is why he is on a one-year contract, but there’s a lot of upside to this signing.
The plan presumably will be to have Bridgewater fight it out with the re-signed veteran Josh McCown for the starting role, while they develop whichever young talent they land at the draft. If Bridgewater returns to his best form, that would be a bonus.
Perhaps the Jets’ best piece of business was grabbing the best cornerback on the free agency market. They had to pay heavily to get him – around $15 million a season for a five-year deal – but the 28-year-old corner is worth it. His 2017 season with the Rams was a little below par, but he’s a top talent in this position, with 18 career interceptions in six seasons, and he has the potential to be the best cornerback at the Jets since Darrelle Revis was at his peak. The Jets’ secondary, which also features safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, along with Morris Claiborne, looks like one of the strongest in the AFC.
With Matt Forte retired, the Jets needed a running back, and Crowell is an upgrade. The young Alabama State star spent four years at Cleveland and developed a reputation for ball security, giving up just one fumble last year. He also has solid pass reception skills, and is strong at the point of contact, rating as one of the NFL’s better backs at making yardage after contact. He will be the first-choice back, and will complement Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire.
The Jets could not get a deal done with Demario Davis, so they’ve gone for Avery Williamson on a three-year deal. Three years younger than Davis, he’s known as a top run-stopper and scored 92 tackles and three sacks for the Titans last season. They still need to bring in a speedy linebacker option through the draft, but in Williamson, the Jets are getting a high-caliber defensive player whose best performances are all ahead of him.
It’s safe to say that the Jets’ wide receiver group have had “issues” in recent months. Jermaine Kearse started well, but Robby Anderson is looking at an NFL suspension and Quincy Enunwa missed the whole of 2017 with back surgery. Pryor had his own injury problems last season, but he got his ankle fixed in November, and he could be a major boost to the Jets’ passing game. At 6 foot 4 and 228 pounds, the former Ohio State quarterback is a big target and showed a lot of promise when switching to wide receiver in 2016, grabbing 77 receptions, 1,007 yards, and four touchdowns. Another player with plenty of potential, Pryor could be a huge addition for the Jets this year.
Maccagnan’s busy approach to the free agency window reflects his determination to tackle the long-standing weaknesses in the roster. They’re not done yet, but this new-look Jets team is already looking good and should have fans optimistic about the new season.