2017 NFL Offseason: New York Jets

New York Jets (Last Year: 5-11)

2017 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Josh McCown, WR Quinton Patton, OT Kelvin Beachum, DT Mike Pennel, ILB Demario Davis, ILB Spencer Paysinger, CB Morris Claiborne, K Chandler Catanzaro.
Draft Picks:
S Jamal Adams, S Marcus Maye, WR ArDarius Stewart, WR Chad Hansen, TE Jordan Leggett. Jets Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Geno Smith, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Brandon Marshall, WR Eric Decker, OT Ryan Clady, OT Breno Giacomini, C Nick Mangold, ILB David Harris, CB Darrelle Revis, S Calvin Pryor, S Marcus Gilchrist, K Nick Folk.

2017 New York Jets Offense:
There was much speculation that the Jets were going to select Mitchell Trubisky or another quarterback with the sixth-overall pick. The people who were speculating this, however, didn’t read Charlie Campbell’s report on the Jets favoring Christian Hackenberg’s progression behind the scenes. Hackenberg didn’t play a single down as a second-round rookie last year, but he has big-time potential because of his massive arm. His accuracy and mental aspects are all highly questionable, but the Jets have at least liked what they have seen from him in practice.

That said, New York’s passing attack is still quite dubious. Even if Hackenberg beats out Josh McCown to be the starter, he won’t have much to throw to. With Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker gone, Quincy Enunwa, just a middling talent, is the No. 1 receiver. Meanwhile, Robby Anderson’s status is in doubt after he pushed a police officer this offseason. Third-round rookie ArDarius Stewart is also an unknown, though he was a tough, gritty blocker at Alabama, so he should be able to contribute in that regard, at least. Fourth-round rookie Chad Hansen could also be in the mix, as could fifth-round rookie tight end Jordan Leggett.

If Hackenberg beats McCown in practice, and if either Stewart or Hansen becomes a viable target, there’s still major concern involving the offensive line. In fact, the Jets could have one of the worst blocking units in the NFL. Their left tackle is Kelvin Beachum, who performed well for the Steelers a few years ago. Beachum, however, hasn’t been able to stay healthy recently, and he was an utter failure in Jacksonville this past season. There’s a chance Beachum could recover, but the Jets will still have to count on him staying healthy, which is far from a guarantee. Meanwhile, the starter at right tackle will be the winner between Ben Ijalana, Brandon Shell and Brent Qvale. Ijalana and Qvale have been awful over the years, while Shell was a fifth-round pick in 2016.

It gets better in the interior, though only by default. The Jets failed to re-sign long-term Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold. Wesley Johnson will start in the wake of Mangold’s departure, just as he did last year when Mangold got hurt. Johnson was pretty pedestrian when given the opportunity. He’ll be flanked by guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters. Carpenter is the team’s best blocker, while Winters was just above average in 2016. However, Winters, just 26, received a $29 million extension this offseason, as New York sees him as a building block for the future.

With three holes on the offensive line, the Jets are likely to struggle to run the ball effectively. However, Bilal Powell can make up for that with his pass-catching expertise. Powell snatched 58 passes this past season, all while gaining 5.5 yards per carry. He took over for the decrepit Matt Forte down the stretch, and he should continue to be utilized as the Jets’ primary back.

2017 New York Jets Defense:
The Jets maintained one of the better defenses two years ago, surrendering 19.6 points per game. That figure dropped considerably this past season, as it plummeted to 25.6. Despite this substantial decline, New York’s stop unit isn’t expected to be much better in 2017.

The one area that has received a make-over is the secondary. This unit was atrocious last year, as Darrelle Revis couldn’t cover anyone, and yet the safeties were somehow worse. Revis is gone, and he’s been replaced by Morris Claiborne, who was signed in free agency. Claiborne was a major bust for the Cowboys as a former first-round pick, but he thrived this past season before getting hurt. Claiborne could play well in 2017, but the problem is his durability; he has yet to play a full season in five years, and he has missed 36 games the past four years. The Jets don’t have much else outside of Claiborne, save for Marcus Williams, who wasn’t horrible as a part-time player in 2016. Williams will have to start this upcoming season.

While the cornerback situation is still quite dubious, the safeties should at least play much better, as the Jets’ first two selections were used on two upgrades. Jamal Adams was arguably the top player on the board at No. 6 overall, while Marcus Maye received some first-round hype leading up to the draft. Both players aren’t expected to be Pro Bowlers right away, but they can’t possibly be worse than what the Jets had at safety last year.

New York’s secondary lacked much talent this past season, but it didn’t help that the front seven managed to accumulate only 27 sacks. Excluding Leonard Williams (7 sacks), no one had more than 4.5. The Jets didn’t add any edge-rushing talent this offseason, though Jordan Jenkins is expected to improve. Jenkins, a 2016 third-rounder, recorded just 2.5 sacks as a rookie, but he spent time with former NFL defensive end Chuck Smith this spring to improve his game. Smith has gotten other pass rushers to improve their game in the past, so perhaps his magic touch will work on Jenkins. Lorenzo Mauldin, another young edge player, will also be given a chance, especially if Sheldon Richardson is dealt. Richardson, a five-technique asked to play outside, has been rumored to be on the trading block.

Richardson hasn’t played on the defensive line because of Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. Williams is one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL. The same was once said of Wilkerson, but lethargy has derailed his career. Wilkerson, however, was apparently injured in 2016, so perhaps he can return to 2015 form, when he recorded 12 sacks. Williams and Wilkerson will sandwich nose tackle Steve McLendon, who was a poor replacement for Snacks Harrison, who is currently on the Giants.

One area the Jets attempted to upgrade this offseason was the inside linebacker group. David Harris and 2016 first-rounder Darron Lee were to be the starters, but New York tried to change this by acquiring Dont’a Hightower. However, Hightower returned to the Patriots, so Harris and Lee were going to reprise their roles as starters before Harris was released. With Harris gone, Lee will start next to Demario Davis, who was acquired in a trade for Calvin Pryor.

2017 New York Jets Schedule and Intangibles:
Chandler Catanzaro will be New York’s new kicker this season. Catanzaro was let loose by the Cardinals because he went 21-of-28 in 2016, including four missed extra points. He often choked in the clutch.

Punter Lachlan Edwards was dead last in net yardage last year.

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

Five of the Jets’ first eight opponents made the playoffs in 2016 (Raiders, Dolphins twice, Patriots, Falocons). Things don’t get much easier later.

2017 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.

2017 New York Jets Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2017 New York Jets Analysis: The Jets have one of the worst rosters in the NFL, and they will struggle to win multiple games as a result. Even four victories seems like it would be a miracle. The silver lining, however, is that the 2018 draft class is rich with quarterbacks, and things will seem much better if the Jets head into next year with either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen as their starting quarterback.

Projection: 2-14 (4th in AFC East)

2017 Projection: 6-10. 2016 Actual Result: 5-11.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A Grade

Goals Entering the 2017 NFL Draft: The Jets happen to be in the worst shape of any team in the NFL. Like the 49ers and Browns, they are devoid of talent almost everywhere. However, they lack the cap space to do anything about it outside of the draft. With so many holes on the roster, the Jets need to trade down early and often to acquire as many rosterable players as possible.

2017 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Jets had to move down early and often, as suggested, and that’s exactly what they managed to do. General manager Mike Maccagnan did a masterful job of wheeling and dealing throughout the weekend, acquiring resources on numerous occasions. This was absolutely imperative, as Daniel Jeremiah echoed what I wrote in the goal mock prior to the draft: The Jets, at least prior to the draft, had the worst roster in the NFL.

Not only did the Jets move down many times, but they also picked up some talented players in the process. They began the weekend by selecting two talented safeties, and yes, they needed two. Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye will automatically improve one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Meanwhle, three offensive weapons were added in ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen and Jordan Leggett. They were quality selections, especially Leggett, who was a steal in the fifth round.

I’m sure some will consider this a failure of a draft for the Jets because they didn’t acquire a quarterback. However, that was never the plan. Charlie Campbell reported back in January that quarterback was not in play for the Jets because they liked how Christian Hackenberg was progressing behind the scenes. And even if Hackenberg sucks, the 2018 NFL Draft is loaded with better quarterbacks – check out the 2018 NFL Mock Draft for more – so the Jets can just wait to acquire Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen.

The Jets had a terrific draft overall, as Maccagnan did what he could to upgrade the talent on the roster as many ways as possible. There’s still a long way to go, but this was a nice start.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

6. Jamal Adams, S, LSU: A Grade
The Jets have done a great job in the draft for the most part lately because of their stance of selecting the best player available. That’s exactly what they’re doing here rather than reaching for need. Then again, the Jets do need everything, so… never mind.

At any rate, after seeing the Bears and Titans do something idiotic, the Jets are looking great with this selection. Adams was widely projected to be taken in the top three, and he probably should’ve been. The Jets aren’t complaining, as Adams fills a huge need for New York and its atrocious secondary.

39. Marcus Maye, S, Florida: A- Grade
Back-to-back safeties!? It makes sense, as the Jets had multiple needs at the position. The Jets just broke a lot of hearts, as many teams were hoping he’d fall to them in the second round. I guess it wasn’t very realistic because there was some speculation Maye could go late first. He’ll pair well with Jamal Adams to bolster New York’s atrocious secondary.

79. ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama: B Grade
Most teams we spoke to had ArDarius Stewart in the third-round range, so I’m definitely not surprised to see him taken in this area. He also fills a need for the Jets, who had to replace Brandon Marshall. This is a solid pick for the Jets. At the very least, they’ll get great special-teams play out of Stewart.

141. Chad Hansen, WR, California: A- Grade
I thought Chad Hansen could potentially be chosen in the third round, so I like this value, and Hansen obviously fills a need with Brandon Marshall gone. Hansen was a productive receiver at California who made acrobatic catches, but his speed is a major question mark.

150. Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson: A Grade
And yet another great tight end value pick in the fifth round. This tight end class is tremendous, and I’m surprised that some of these players didn’t go earlier. The Jets won’t complain, as they might be able to finally fill their massive need at the position. Leggett is a poor blocker, but figures to be a productive pass-catcher.

181. Dylan Donahue, DE/OLB, West Georgia: C+ Grade
Dylan Donahue nearly made my mock draft, but he didn’t make the cut. He could have though, as he was very productive in college, albeit at a small school. Donahue is 25, so that’s a negative, but he could end up being a rotational pass-rusher for the Jets.

188. Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette: A- Grade
The Jets are quietly having a stellar draft, as they’ve traded down a bunch to pick up lots of resources, which they desperately needed. Elijah McGuire is a value selection, as I had him going off the board 50 selections earlier than this. McGuire tested poorly during the pre-draft process, but he’s an effective pass-catching weapon coming out of the backfield.

197. Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan: B+ Grade
Jeremy Clark may have snuck into the second day of the draft had he not sustained a torn ACL in September. Clark dropped all the way to Round 6, but the Jets are getting decent value with him. He has the potential to emerge as a starter in 2018, but the durability concerns are real.

204. Derrick Jones, CB, Ole Miss: B Grade
The Jets are swinging for the fences here, which is fine. Derrick Jones has elite athleticism, but not very much production. He has starter potential, but could also fail to make the roster.

Season Summary:
It’s amazing how much can change in a year. In 2015, the Jets were 10-6 and were one victory away from reaching the playoffs. This past season, they bottomed out and finished with one of the worst records in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Jets, they’re not close to reaching postseason status, as they have nothing resembling a franchise quarterback.

Offseason Moves:
  • Jets sign ILB Spencer Paysinger
  • Jets cut ILB David Harris
  • Jets sign S Shamarko Thomas
  • Jets cut S Marcus Gilchrist
  • Jets sign WR Quinton Patton
  • Jets sign QB Josh McCown
  • Jets sign DT Mike Pennel
  • Jets sign CB Morris Claiborne
  • Jets sign OT Kelvin Beachum
  • Jets re-sign DE/OLB Josh Martin
  • Jets re-sign G Ben Ijalana
  • Jets cut WR Brandon Marshall
  • Jets cut CB Darrelle Revis
  • Jets cut C Nick Mangold
  • Jets cut K Nick Folk
  • Jets cut OT Breno Giacomini
  • Jets cut OT Ryan Clady
  • Jets re-sign G Brian Winters

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: This is the obvious top need. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith are impending free agents, and they were never good anyway. Christian Hackenberg is probably a sunk cost, so New York will investigate the possibility of selecting a quarterback at No. 5 overall. Signed Josh McCown

    2. Two Offensive Tackles: Regardless of whether or not the Jets obtain a franchise quarterback, they’ll have to upgrade both offensive tackle slots. Ryan Clady was a huge bust acquisition this past season. Signed Kelvin Beachum

    3. Two Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis’ play has fallen off a cliff, as there have been reports that he isn’t in love with football anymore, prompting his effort level to drop. Revis will likely be released, so the Jets will need to find a replacement as well as another corner. Signed Morris Claiborne

    4. Center: Nick Mangold was cut, which is going to be a big loss unless the Jets can find a proper replacement at center.

    5. Nose Tackle: Steve McLendon was a failure as a replacement for Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who signed with the Giants last offseason.

    6. Edge Rusher: The Jets haven’t possessed a dynamic edge rusher in a very long time. They’ve had Sheldon Richardson playing on the edge, but they’d be better off finding a natural linebacker and moving Richardson to the defensive line.

    7. Safety: More help is needed in the secondary, as Calvin Pryor must be upgraded.

    8. Inside Linebacker: David Harris is a 33-year-old heading into his contract year. The Jets will have to think about finding some young blood at the position to complement Darron Lee, who must improve.

    9. Guard: Here’s another offensive line position that will need to be addressed if New York loses Brian Winters to free agency. Re-signed Brian Winters

    10. Running Back: Matt Forte had some solid games this past season, but he’s on his last legs and won’t be as effective going forward. The Jets can probably get away with him as their starter for one more year, but that’s about it.

    11. Tight End: The Jets didn’t use a tight end on offense last year, but that was by design. If Chan Gailey is let go, they’ll have to find an upgrade at the position.

    12. Kicker: Nick Folk was released, so the Jets need a new kicker. Signed Chandler Catanzaro

    13. Punter: Lachlan Edwards was one of the worst punters in the NFL this past season, though he was just a rookie.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2017 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Morris Claiborne, CB, Cowboys. Age: 27.
      Signed with Jets

      It’s almost crazy to recall that Morris Claiborne was considered a colossal bust prior to this past season. Claiborne had done nothing but suck since being chosen sixth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he performed like a shutdown corner this past season before getting hurt. Was that because he was in his contract year, though? Will he stink again if he signs a big deal? Teams thinking about giving Claiborne a ton of money need to be concerned about this.

    2. Kelvin Beachum, OT, Jaguars. Age: 28.
      Signed with Jets

      Kelvin Beachum is a talented left tackle who would be rated a bit higher than this if he were healthy. Beachum tore his ACL in 2015 and struggled this past season because he wasn’t 100 percent. However, he should provide solid value this spring. He figures to be closer to 100 percent now that he’s two years removed from his knee injury. Plus, he’s only 28. Beachum could be one of the better signings this offseason.

    3. Chandler Catanzaro (RFA), K, Cardinals. Age: 26.
      Signed with Jets

      Chandler Catanzaro struggled this past season, but given that he converted 87.9 and 90.3 percent of his field goals in 2014 and 2015, respectively, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    4. Mike Pennell, DT, Packers. Age: 26. — Signed with Jets
    5. Quinton Patton, WR, 49ers. Age: 27. — Signed with Jets
    6. Josh McCown, QB, Browns. Age: 38. — Signed with Jets (1 year, $6 million)
    7. Shamarko Thomas, S, Steelers. Age: 26. — Signed with Jets
    8. Spencer Paysinger, OLB/ST, Dolphins. Age: 29. — Signed with Jets

    New York Jets Free Agents:

    Salary Cap Space: -$5.9M.
    1. Nick Mangold, C, Jets. Age: 33.
      Nick Mangold was once the best center in the NFL. He’s been injured quite a bit the past two years, so he can no longer maintain that status. However, when healthy, Mangold is still a terrific player. He’s 33 now, but interior linemen have been able to play at a high level until their mid-to-late 30s.

    2. Eric Decker, WR, Jets. Age: 30.
      Signed with Titans (1 year)

      Eric Decker is a great commodity. He just turned 30, and he’s coming off an injury-ravaged 2016 campaign, but it’s almost certain that he can still perform on a high level. Prior to 2016, Decker had eclipsed 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in three of four seasons. He projects as a terrific No. 2 receiver, and the teams that miss out on Jeremy Maclin can sign him if he’s released. Some teams that make sense are the ones I mentioned for Maclin: Bills, Ravens, Cowboys and Redskins. Additionally, the Panthers make sense, and the Chiefs can also be included if they think they can get Decker at a far lower price than what they had to pay Maclin. Teams shouldn’t give up more than a fifth-round pick for Decker, as they should be aware that they could obtain him on the open market, given the worsened trade value.

    3. Brian Winters, G, Jets. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Jets (4 years)

      Brian Winters was arguably the Jets’ top offensive lineman last year not named Nick Mangold. That’s not saying a lot, but Winters is a quality pass protector who happens to be just 26 until July.

    4. Nick Folk, K, Jets. Age: 32.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Nick Folk has hit at least 82.1 percent of his field goals over the past four years, and he’s missed just two extra points since the rule was changed. He’s 10-of-15 from 50-plus since 2013.

    5. Marcus Williams (RFA), CB, Jets. Age: 26.
      The Jets’ secondary has mostly struggled this year, but Marcus Williams has been an exception. Williams has performed well in the slot, though he did miss some action with an ankle injury. Still, he’s only 26 in March, so he could continue to improve.

    6. Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets. Age: 33.
      Signed with Giants (2 years, $12 million)

      Brandon Marshall had posted 1,000-plus yards in eight of nine seasons heading into 2016, but he saw his production drop last year, as he caught 59 balls for 788 yards and three touchdowns. Some of that had to do with age – Marshall turns 33 at the end of March – but he dealt with terrible quarterbacking, and he also suffered multiple injuries. Marshall will rebound at least a bit in 2017, but there’s no telling how much he has left in the tank.

    7. Ryan Clady, OT, Jets. Age: 31.
      Once the 12th-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Ryan Clady was enjoying a great career in Denver until suffering a string of injuries. He’s played in just 27 of 64 possible regular-season games the past four years, and he struggled while he was on the field last season. Clady could get healthy and rebound, but teams can’t trust him enough to give him anything outside of 1-year “prove it” contracts going forward.

    8. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets. Age: 32.
      Darrelle Revis signed a big contract two years ago. He struggled a bit in 2015 and then regressed into one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. Revis played like a one-star free agent in 2016, but he’s just 32 (in July) and could rebound. He was once the best cornerback in the NFL, so I find it hard to believe that he’s completely done. Perhaps Revis can move to safety.

    9. David Harris, ILB, Jets. Age: 33.
      Signed with Patriots

      When the Jets traded for Demario Davis, it was assumed that Davis would be the third linebacker behind David Harris and Darron Lee. Apparently not. Harris has been released despite being the top inside linebacker on the team. Harris is a declining player at 33, but he was halfway decent this past season. He can be signed on as a role player for a team needing linebacker depth. Some teams that make sense for him include the Giants, Packers, Raiders, Broncos, Patriots and Colts.

    10. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets. Age: 34.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Ryan Fitzpatrick held out for lots of money last summer, and it backfired, as he never got into a rhythm with his teammates and struggled the entire year as a result. Fitzpatrick, however, was never as good as played in 2015, but he can still be a solid backup.

    11. Geno Smith, QB, Jets. Age: 26.
      Signed with Giants

      Geno Smith was once a second-round pick with promise, but he’s been hurt by inaccuracy and an inability to grasp the mental part of the game. He still has potential, which is why I’m giving him two stars, but I don’t have much hope for him.

    12. Khiry Robinson, RB, Jets. Age: 27.
    13. Ben Ijalana, G/OT, Jets. Age: 28.
    14. Mike Catapano, DE/DT, Jets. Age: 27.
    15. Erin Henderson, ILB, Jets. Age: 31.
    16. Marcus Gilchrist, S, Jets. Age: 28.
    17. Bruce Carter, ILB, Jets. Age: 29.
    18. Breno Giacomini, OT, Jets. Age: 31. — Signed with Texans
    19. Kellen Davis, TE, Jets. Age: 31.
    20. Josh Martin, DE/OLB, Jets. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Jets
    21. Arthur Brown, ILB, Jets. Age: 27. — Signed with Seahawks


    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12