2016 NFL Offseason: New York Jets

New York Jets (Last Year: 10-6)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Matt Forte, RB Khiry Robinson, OT Ryan Clady, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins, NT Steve McLendon, ILB Bruce Carter.
Draft Picks:
LB Darron Lee, QB Christian Hackenberg, DE/OLB Jordan Jenkins, CB Juston Burris. Jets Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Chris Ivory, WR Jeremy Kerley, TE Jeff Cumberland, NT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, ILB Demario Davis, CB Antonio Cromartie.

2016 New York Jets Offense:
As of this publishing, the Jets have not agreed to terms with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the two sides are reportedly far apart in negotiations. Fitzpatrick has clearly over-valued himself. He has probably been the most mediocre quarterback in the NFL over the past couple of years. If it hasn’t been Alex Smith, it has certainly been him, and Fitzpatrick needs to understand that he’s not worth a lot of money.

That said, the Jets are in between a rock and a hard place, as they need Fitzpatrick to come back because their alternatives at the position are terrible. Geno Smith has proven that he’s not a realistic option; Bryce Petty is just a backup-caliber player; while second-round rookie Christian Hackenberg couldn’t even handle the Big Ten last year, so how can he possibly succeed in the pros right away?

If Fitzpatrick continues to be at an impasse with New York’s front office, one of the other quarterbacks will at least have some talented weapons to throw to. The Jets have a dynamic one-two punch at receiver in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who combined for 189 catches, 2,527 yards and 26 touchdowns last year. There’s some concern with Marshall, given that he turned 32 this offseason, but New York should be able to continue to maintain one of the top receiving tandems in the NFL.

That said, the Jets better hope that Marshall and Decker stay healthy because they don’t have any other reliable aerial threats. Jace Amaro, a 2014 second-rounder has been such a huge disappointment that he’s currently on the roster bubble. Devin Smith, chosen in the second frame a year later, is currently injured, so New York’s third receiving option is someone named Quincy Enunwa.

With Smith sidelined, it’s sounding like Matt Forte could be used as a slot receiver on passing downs. Acquired in free agency, the former Bear is in decline at 30 years old, but should still have a couple of decent seasons remaining in the tank. He gained 4.1 yards per carry in 2015, but did so behind an anemic offensive line. Forte will probably rush for about 800-900 yards and catch close to 50 passes, as he’ll share some of his workload with pass-catcher Bilal Powell and goal-line plower Khiry Robinson, who was also obtained as a free agent this offseason.

Forte’s blocking sucked in Chicago, so he’ll be used to what New York will have to offer in that regard. Center Nick Mangold is the team’s best lineman, but he had a down 2015 campaign, perhaps because of age (turned 32 in January) or a neck injury. Mangold should be fine for the next couple of seasons, as should left guard James Carpenter, who was a strong run-blocker last year. That’s about it for the positives, however, as right guard Brian Winters was atrocious last year, especially when it came to opening up rushing lanes.

As for the tackles, Ryan Clady was acquired from the Broncos, but there’s no guarantee he’ll even play. Clady is as injury-prone as they get, missing 30 games in the past three seasons, including all of 2015 with a torn ACL. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was so awful that the Jets considered spending an early selection on Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs. Giacomini may not even start; the front office likes third-year backup Brent Qvale and will give him an opportunity to win the starting job.

2016 New York Jets Defense:
The Jets maintained one of the better defenses last year, surrendering 19.6 points per game. However, there’s definitely reason to believe that New York’s stop unit will suffer a decline this upcoming season.

One of the primary reasons for this is the departure of Damon “Snacks” Harrison. The massive nose tackle was one of the primary reasons why the Jets were so effective at clamping down against the run. He signed with the Giants, creating a gaping hole in the middle of the defensive front. All New York could do in response to this was sign Steve McLendon over from the Steelers. The problem is that McLendon struggled last year, and Pittsburgh was fine to get rid of him. This is an enormous downgrade, and there will be repercussions as a result.

That said, the rest of New York’s defensive front is prolific. Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL, while Sheldon Richardson isn’t too far behind him. Richardson had to play out of position last year at rush linebacker, but he’ll see more time at end this year. Richardson has been suspended for the opener, but that’s not a big deal because New York also has talented defensive end Leonard Williams at its disposal. Williams was great as a rookie and should only be better in his sophomore campaign.

Richardson had to play on the edge because the Jets had a severe lack of talent there last year. They were expected to address that heavily this offseason, but never really got the chance, only spending a third-round choice on Jordan Jenkins. If Jenkins can’t contribute as a rookie, New Yrok will have to start Lorenzo Mauldin, a 2015 third-rounder, and Trevor Reilly, who was taken in the final frame of the 2014 class. Mauldin was just average at best in limited action last year, while Reilly was far worse.

The Jets at least managed to potentially upgrade the inside linebackers. They spent a first-round selection on Ohio State’s Darron Lee, who was projected to go earlier than No. 20. Lee is a very athletic linebacker whose play-making ability will be a welcome addition to a group that has sorely needed some for years. The incumbent inside linebackers are the underwhelming David Harris, a 32-year-old who is regressing rapidly, and Erin Henderson, who is not a good football player by any means.

Speaking of declining players, Darrelle Revis was signed to a massive contract to much fanfare last offseason. Revis played well, but not as prolifically as expected. Now 31, Revis’ best days are behind him, and while he won’t completely fall off a cliff, he won’t erase half the field like he used to be able to. Revis is also battling a wrist injury, so he could get off to a slow start in his 2016 campaign. If he’s ready to go by the start of the season, he’ll line up across from Buster Skrine, who was torched mercilessly in 2015. However, with Antonio Cromartie no longer on the roster, New York doesn’t have much of an alternative, save for Marcus Williams. It’s unclear why Williams isn’t favored to start over Skrine. Meanwhile, former first-rounder Dee Milliner hasn’t shown any signs that he can be a professional football player, while fourth-round rookie Juston Burris might be a year away from being able to contribute.

The Jets figure to be solid at safety again, at least. Marcus Gilchrist is the better of the two starters, but Calvin Pryor isn’t bad either. Pryor tends to struggle in run support, but he’s a good player to have in coverage.

2016 New York Jets Schedule and Intangibles:
Nick Folk missed half of 2015 because of a quad injury. He was 13-of-16 midway through the season, hitting both of his 50-yard tries.

Ryan Quigley has been one of the worst punters in the NFL, prompting New York to spend a seventh-round selection on Lachlan Edwards.

New York was abysmal on returns last year, getting outgained on both punts and kickoffs. The team surrendered two touchdowns, scoring none.

The Jets have a brutal schedule to kick off the season. They battle the Bengals, Bills (road), Chiefs (road), Seahawks, Steelers (road) and Cardinals (road). That could easily be 1-5 or even 0-6. Making matters worse, New York will have to play the Patriots twice later, meaning they’re the only AFC East team to not get the Patriots in one game where Tom Brady will be out.

2016 New York Jets Rookies:
Go here for the Jets Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2016 New York Jets Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 New York Jets Analysis: Todd Bowles is a good coach who got the most out of the Jets last year, but even he’ll have a tough time with this team in 2016. Even if Ryan Fitzpatrick ultimately re-signs, the Jets have a sketchy offensive line, a lack of depth when it comes to receiving players, a declining defense, and a taxing schedule to deal with.

Projection: 6-10 (3rd in AFC East)

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Jets don’t have a quarterback, so finding one is obviously the top priority. I don’t think they’ll take Paxton Lynch at No. 20, so a second-day signal-caller is more likely. New York also has some other glaring needs, particularly at linebacker and right tackle.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: New York’s individual grades were pretty much all over the place. The team had five picks if the seventh round is excluded. One was an “A,” two were in the “B” range, while the other two both earned a “C.” Fortunately, there were no Millens involved.

The Jets’ initial selection actually earned the “A.” Darron Lee was expected to come off the board in the 13-17 range, and it was absolutely shocking that the Falcons passed on him. The Jets didn’t complain, as they nabbed the athletic linebacker at No. 20 overall. New York has needed help in the interior of its defense for quite a while, and Lee should help solve that issue.

The one other pick of New York’s that I liked was Jordan Jenkins in the third round. However, taking Christian Hackenberg in the second frame will hurt this overall grade. Hackenberg has loads of talent, but processes information way too slowly and is horribly inconsistent. I’m a Penn State alumnus, and even I have been way down on Hackenberg, calling him a trap. I wouldn’t have taken him prior to the fourth round, but I can understand why the desperate Jets pulled the trigger on a quarterback.

Overall, New York did an OK job with its draft. Some picks were solid; a couple of needs were filled; and there weren’t any truly horrific selections. Conversely, however, the Jets’ haul could’ve been much better.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

20. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State A Grade
The Jets picked Leonard Williams last year, proving that they’ll draft the best player available, even if they don’t have a need at the position. This year, the Jets have selected perhaps the best player available – and one who actually fills a need. The Jets have had a hole at inside linebacker for a very long time. Darron Lee, who could’ve gone as high as No. 14, figures to change that. Lee is very athletic and has a ton of upside. He projects as a great fit in Todd Bowles’ defense.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

51. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State C Grade
The Jets fan the NFL Network camera caught was shouting, “We got a QB!” Well, we’ll see. I’m a Penn State alumnus, and I’ve called Christian Hackenberg a trap. He has supreme talent, but there are numerous things wrong. He’s inconsistent with his throws; he struggles to process information quickly; and he also had some locker-room issues at Penn State. I would’ve taken him in the third round. This is a bit too early for my blood, and I don’t know how he fits Chan Gailey’s offense.

83. Jordan Jenkins, DE/OLB, Georgia B Grade
Jordan Jenkins tested extremely well at the Combine, and he has started a ridiculous amount of games at Georgia. I imagine the Jets loved those traits because Jenkins didn’t particularly live up to his measureables at Georgia. He was just a solid player, but nothing special. Still, taking a chance on him in the third round is a good decision, and I’m sure Todd Bowles will get the most out of him.

118. Juston Burris, CB, N.C. State B- Grade
With Antonio Cromartie gone and Darrelle Revis declining, a cornerback was needed. Juston Burris could’ve gone a bit later, but I don’t have an issue with this pick. Burris is a tall corner who played extremely well at N.C. State. He didn’t test very well at the Combine, but the Jets apparently didn’t care.

158. Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina C Grade
This pick came out of nowhere, as the Jets weren’t scheduled to be on the clock for a while. They surrendered a 2017 fourth-rounder to pick here, and they took Brandon Shell to fill their need at tackle, which hasn’t been satisfied yet. The Jets are unhappy with Breno Giacomini, so perhaps Shell can take his place. I’m not sure he’s the solution though, as he projects to have issues in pass protection.

235. Lachlan Edwards, P, Sam Houston State B- Grade
I’m not going to analyze a punter pick all that much, but the Jets did need to address the position. As with all seventh-round punter selections, this earns a B-.

241. Charone Peake, WR, Clemson A Grade
I’m shocked Charone Peake went this late. I’ve constantly mocked him in the fourth round, as he was productive this past season and showed off some decent athleticism for a receiver his size (6-2, 209) at the Combine. I’m not sure why Peake dropped to the seventh frame. Sure, he’s raw, and he still needs to learn how to become a true receiver, but there’s just so much untapped potential. He could end up being a solid player for the Jets down the road with some good coaching.

Season Summary:
All the Jets had to do was beat the Bills, and they would’ve qualified for the playoffs. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get it done, and their magical, unexpected season came to an abrupt conclusion. Things look promising going forward for the Jets, provided the can retain some of their key free agents.

Offseason Moves:
  • Jets acquire OT Ryan Clady, 7th-rounder from Broncos for 5th-rounder
  • Jets re-sign G Ben Ijalana
  • Jets announce retirement of OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • Jets sign WR/KR Jeremy Ross
  • Jets sign ILB Bruce Carter
  • Jets re-sign ILB Erin Henderson
  • Jets sign NT Steve McLendon
  • Jets re-sign WR Kenbrell Thompkins
  • Jets re-sign TE Kellen Davis
  • Jets sign DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins
  • Jets sign RB Khiry Robinson
  • Jets re-sign RB Bilal Powell
  • Jets re-sign TE Zach Sudfeld
  • Jets cut WR Jeremy Kerley
  • Jets sign RB Matt Forte
  • Jets cut TE Jeff Cumberland
  • Jets cut CB Antonio Cromartie

    Team Needs:
    1. Offensive Tackle: D’Brickashaw Ferguson used to be one of the top left tackles in the NFL, but he’s past his prime. The Jets could stand to bring in a new left tackle, moving Ferguson to the right, where he would displace the ineffective Breno Giacomini. Update: Ferguson has retired, so this is now a more pressing need. Ryan Clady was acquired, but a right tackle is still needed. Traded for Ryan Clady

    2. Inside Linebacker: There will be a couple of options available at this position for the Jets at No. 20 overall. Inside linebacker has to be bolstered; Demario Davis, an impending free agent, was woeful in 2015. Signed Bruce Carter

    3. Rush Linebacker: It’s been a very long time since the Jets possessed a dominant edge rusher. Lorenzo Mauldin was just fine last year, but New York needs a better player who can get to the quarterback in order to cut down on the blitzes.

    4. Guard: The Jets must improve multiple positions on their offensive line, including one of the guard spots. Willie Colon missed most of 2015 with a knee injury, but he was struggling before he left the field. Turning 33, Colon will have to be upgraded, perhaps with a second-day draft pick.

    5. Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick is an impending free agent, but he’s not the long-term answer. Bryce Petty might be, but that’s unlikely. Unfortunately, the Jets won’t be able to address this position during this offseason.

    6. Nose Tackle: Damon “Snacks” Harrison is one of the top nose tackles in the NFL. He also happens to be hitting free agency in March. He’ll need to be re-signed. Signed Steve McLendon

    7. Cornerback: I never thought I’d be writing that the Jets would need a cornerback after they signed Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie last offseason, but the latter struggled mightily, showing major signs of regression (though he was hurt). An early draft choice could be used to fix this problem.

    8. Running Back: Both Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory are set to hit free agency. Ivory wore down as the season progressed, but bringing both back would be a solid move. Signed Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson; re-signed Bilal Powell

    9. Tight End: Jace Amaro hasn’t show anything yet. He did miss all of 2015 with a shoulder injury, but the Jets may think about adding some competition.

    10. Punter: Ryan Quigley was one of the NFL’s worst punters in 2015.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Matt Forte, RB, Bears. Age: 30.
      Signed with Jets

      Matt Forte will be regarded as a top-level free agent by the public, but the fact of the matter is that he’ll turn 31 during the 2016 season. Forte has averaged 3.9 and 4.1 YPC the past two seasons as well. Forte is still fantastic as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, but he’s a bit overrated heading into free agency.

    2. Bruce Carter, ILB, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Jets (1 year)

      Bruce Carter had an awful 2015 campaign in which he got benched for a mid-round rookie, but I explained why in the Top 10 Worst NFL Free Agent Signings of 2015 page. Carter sucks in the 4-3, but has played well in the 3-4 earlier in his career. He needs to stop chasing big contracts and settle with an organization that can actually utilize him properly.

    3. Steve McLendon, NT, Steelers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Jets

      Steve McLendon is just a mediocre nose tackle who is just fine in terms of stuffing the run. The Steelers can do better than him, but he’s not terrible.

    4. Khiry Robinson (RFA), RB, Saints. Age: 26.
      Signed with Jets

      Bill Parcells compared Khiry Robinson to Curtis Martin a couple of years ago, but Robinson has never lived up to that billing, as he has constantly dealt with injuries. Robinson hasn’t played more than 10 games in any season.

    5. Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT, Bears. Age: 28. — Signed with Jets (3 years, $6 million)
    6. Jeremy Ross, WR, Raiders. Age: 28. — Signed with Jets

    New York Jets Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Jets. Age: 27.
      Franchised by Jets

      It says a lot when you break your leg and still happen to be one of the top free agents on the market. Muhammad Wilkerson sustained the injury in the season finale, and he was missed on the field. He’s one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL.

    2. Damon Harrison, NT, Jets. Age: 27.
      Signed with Giants (5 years, $46.25 million; $24 million guaranteed)

      Damon “Snacks” Harrison is one of the top run-stuffers in the NFL. He doesn’t get much pressure on the quarterback, but that’s not what he’s asked to do. The Jets were extremely difficult to run against because of Snacks.

    3. Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Jets

      Bilal Powell was New York’s best running back down the stretch. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was huge for the team. His absence in the season finale killed the team.

    4. Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets. Age: 32.
      Antonio Cromartie was atrocious in 2015, prompting the Jets to release him after one season into his 4-year, $32 million deal. However, I’m not ready to give up on Cromartie. He was solid in 2014, and his poor play this past season could be attributed to knee and thigh injuries he dealt with. There’s a chance Cromartie is done, given that he turns 32 in April, but no one should be surprised if he bounces back elsewhere.

    5. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets. Age: 33.
      Ryan Fitzpatrick can beat all the crappy opponents you ask him to, but he’ll struggle in big games because of his physical limitations.

    6. Demario Davis, ILB, Jets. Age: 27.
      Signed with Browns (2 years, $8 million)

      Demario Davis played well in 2014, but struggled mightily this past season. He definitely missed having Rex Ryan around to coach him up.

    7. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets. Age: 28.
      Signed with Jaguars

      Chris Ivory was outstanding early in the 2015 season, but he wore down as the year went on and was ineffective toward the end. Given his running style, Ivory won’t be around much longer.

    8. Calvin Pace, DE/OLB, Jets. Age: 35.
    9. Stephen Bowen, DE/DT, Jets. Age: 32.
    10. Leger Douzable, DE/DT, Jets. Age: 30.
    11. Ryan Quigley, P, Jets. Age: 28.
    12. Randy Bullock, K, Jets. Age: 26.
    13. Jamari Lattimore, ILB, Jets. Age: 27.
    14. Erin Henderson, ILB, Jets. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Jets
    15. Stevan Ridley, RB, Jets. Age: 27. — Signed with Lions
    16. Kenbrell Thompkins (RFA), WR, Jets. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Jets
    17. Kellen Davis, TE, Jets. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Jets
    18. Darrin Walls, CB, Jets. Age: 28. — Signed with Lions
    19. Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Jets. Age: 26.
    20. Willie Colon, G, Jets. Age: 33.
    21. Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets. Age: 27. — Signed with Lions
    22. Antonio Allen, S, Jets. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    23. Chris Owusu, WR, Jets. Age: 26.
    24. Zach Sudfeld (RFA), TE, Jets. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Jets
    25. Jeff Cumberland, TE, Jets. Age: 29. — Signed with Chargers
    26. Ben Ijalana, G, Jets. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Jets
    27. Julian Stanford (RFA), ILB, Jets. Age: 25.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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