The New York Jets are the worst team in football.
They’ve been the embarrassment of the league for the past 10 years, with only 1 winning season (10-6 in 2015); even teams like the Browns, Bengals, and Lions have had something to smile about.
To further my point, the Jets have finished last in their division 4 out of the past 5 years, and have only had 3 First-Team All-Pro players in the past decade.
No that wasn’t a typo.
The team’s new head coach, Robert Saleh, stated:
“Get used to the new mantra: all gas, no brake,”
He would continue to use the same phrase, “all gas, no brake,” many times in the interview, so that’s exactly what I’m going to live by with this article.
Since the Jets have no clue what they are doing, I’m going to do their job by rebuilding for them over this offseason.
This took a lot of time, research, thinking, and worst of all, math; after all of it, I have formed the perfect and most ideal team the Jets can achieve with the assets they have to work with.
Surprisingly enough, with the correct moves, this game of chess is winnable for the Jets sooner than you might think.
Here are my 3 big answers to the Jets’ 3 big questions this offseason.
1. The Quarterback Question
The quarterback question is the biggest question there is for every team, but the Jets have many good options this year between the #2 pick in the draft, Watson basically asking to be on the team, and Darnold already in the house, we will look at each option and decide what is best for the Green Gang.
With the #2 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Jets have 2 solid options for a quarterback:
Zach Wilson (BYU) and Justin Fields (OSU).
Zach Wilson seems more NFL ready, with a higher completion percentage, a better TD-INT ratio, and 2 more yards per completion than the Ohio State product.
Highest-graded QBs throwing past their first read in 2020:
♨️ Zach Wilson, BYU – 94.7
♨️ Spencer Rattler, OU – 89.2
♨️ Justin Fields, OSU – 87.6 pic.twitter.com/Edu0dc0hUc
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 28, 2021
Fields may not be able to come out and lead the team immediately, as we have seen him fold under pressure in big games.
Most recently, Fields lost the national championship to Alabama 24-52 with a 51.5% completion percentage, 194 passing yards, and 1 touchdown.
Also, in Fields’ final regular-season game against Northwestern, he finished with a 44.4% completion percentage, 114 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
On the other hand, Wilson only ended one game in 2020 with a completion percentage lower than 62% (56.3).
Highest-graded deep passer (20+ yards) in the NFL Draft:
🚀 Zach Wilson, BYUpic.twitter.com/3YwGwhcwp9
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 25, 2021
In 2020, the former BYU quarterback also never threw more interceptions than touchdowns, finished a game under 200 yards passing, and only finished 2 games with a passer rating under 175 (134.9 and 139.7).
Fields only finished with a passer rating above 175 in half of his games.
Justin Fields hold the ball longer than almost any QB in the Draft.
His 3.1 second avg time to throw is the 3rd slowest in his class. pic.twitter.com/bxtlYbmCyd
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 22, 2021
Not to mention, Fields also played 4 fewer games last season.
I think it’s safe to say that if the Jets decide the draft is the way to go, Wilson is their best option.
In my opinion, Sam Darnold is the worst option if you’re the Jets, which I happen to be right now, making it my worst option.
He isn’t the cheapest option, the most skilled option, and he has no draw for other talents.
It’s not that he’s a bad player, he just isn’t what the team needs right now.
Darnold is going to cost the Jets $9.8 million next season if they can’t get rid of him.
The former #3 overall draft pick needs to go to a team that is a QB away from being contenders like the 49ers, Patriots, or Saints; the Jets could get at least a 2nd round draft pick for him while clearing up his cap space at the same time.
Darnold is the very last option for the Jets, and if they manage to dig themselves in such a hole, they might as well bury themselves in it.
Deshaun Watson’s top two choices for trade destinations, per @ArmandoSalguero
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 23, 2021
Watson is my absolute favorite choice to become the Jet’s next quarterback, as he is the most guaranteed out of the three options, currently being a top-5 QB in the NFL at 25 years old.
Let me prove it to you.
Watson finished the season leading the league in passing yardss with 4,823.
He was also 1st in yards per attempt (8.9), 2nd in passer rating (112.4), 2nd in passing yards per game (301.4), and 3rd in completion percentage (70.2).
Watson did all of this while getting sacked 49 times, 2nd most in the league. If that doesn’t convey to you his skill, then you need to go back to exclusively watching college football.
All of this with the 20th ranked receiver corps before the 2020 season according to PFF.
He also ended the season with the 6th most rushing yards out of all quarterbacks (444).
He isn’t just great, he is consistently great.
Only 3 QBs have 12,500 Pass Yards and a 100+ QB rating since 2018.
▪️ Patrick Mahomes
▪️ Aaron Rodgers
▪️ Deshaun Watson pic.twitter.com/pQsgaAtzuk
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 28, 2021
Another reason Deshaun Watson is my favorite choice is the draw he brings with him for other talents.
My point is, players want to follow Watson, and new HC Robert Salah makes the Jets a destination team as well.
More food for thought – no quarterback of this caliber has ever been traded in his prime; no matter what happens we are witnessing history.
Watson will be costing whatever team he’s on next year $15.9 million.
This is my favorite option, so for the rest of the article we are going to assume the Jets trade for Watson, giving up their #2 overall pick in 2021, their 1st-rounder for 2022, a 2nd-rounder for 2022, and a 2023 3rd-round pick.
2. The Free Agency Question
This question has the most depth behind it, so hold on to your seat because it’s a lot.
I have gone to spotrac.com and managed the Jets roster myself, making cuts, free-agency moves, and trades.
Keep in mind that the spotrac website sometimes lists the player in the wrong position.
Before my roster adjustments, the Jets were set to have $62.9 million in cap space; post-adjustment, they are now set to have $107 million.
I will also be referencing position grades given to players by pff.com.
PFF analyzes every player and every play of every game in the NFL, and gives players a score out of 100, according to how they performed.
After you look at the rosters, I will go into each move I made and my reasoning below.
I made two trades during the offseason, Deshaun Watson and Sam Darnold.
Traded to the Jets for 2 first-round picks, 1 second-round pick, and 1 third-round pick.
Watson will also cost $16 million against the cap next year.
I, the Jets, am trading Darnold to the Detroit Lions for a 2nd round pick and David Blough.
Blough is 25 years old can serve as Watson’s backup while being on a cheap rookie deal, and has also proven a little more than the Jets’ current backups.
I made a lot of cuts – 21 to be exact.
Each cut was made because the player was either too old, not worth the money, or just didn’t belong on the team anymore.
We will go through each cut and the reasoning right now.
Crowder was 29, had average production, and is injury prone.
The wide receiver has never played a full season in his career, missing 7 games last year.
We also saved $10.4 million by releasing him, which can go towards a true #1 healthy receiver.
Another 29-year-old defensive end who only played started 8 games, got 61 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 QB hits, and half a sack.
By cutting Anderson, we save $8.2 million
A 28-year-old offensive tackle with average production.
The rookie tackle Mekhi Becton has an overall grade of 74 on PFF, while Fant has a 61.
With the 28th pick in the draft and a solid young prospect in Chuma Edoge who has the highest run-blocking grade on the team with an 82, there is no reason for Fant to be on this team in 2021 with this huge contract.
Fant will save the Jets $7.35M.
The 31-year-old tight end has never played a full season, had 89 reception yards in 2020 and is a very average blocker with a blocking score of 61 on PFF.
This spot is easily filled in free agency.
The Jets also have a young tight end on a rookie contract in Chris Herndon, who had a decent average blocking score of 66.7 and had 287 passing yards in 2020.
By cutting Griffin, the Jets save $1.8M.
The 28-year-old offensive tackle has never played more than 25% of snaps in a season.
He is very average with little potential.
By cutting McDermont, the Jets save $950K
Another tight end while we only need 2, maybe 3.
We will fill the starting position in free agency and we have our backup.
Cap saved – $660K.
We only need 2 quarterbacks on the team.
If Watson can’t play for some reason, it won’t matter anyway.
Cap saved – $850K.
Cap saved – $422K.
Guerriero didn’t play in 2020 and the Jets have a solid #2 running back already with Ty Johnson, who had an overall grade on PFF of 69.
If the Jets want a third running back that is easily filled in the draft or free agency, and we are going to fill the starter role in free agency.
Cap saved – $660K.
Another running back.
Perine is young and cheap, but his money can be spent elsewhere.
We also already have our backup in Johnson
Cap Saved – $407K.
Another tight end.
Cap saved – $674K.
A wide receiver who didn’t play a snap last year.
We will have plenty of talented receivers after we are done.
Cap saved – $780K.
Cap saved – $780K.
Another receiver with no snaps.
Cap saved – $850K.
Malone has the 2nd worst overall PFF grade of the 10 Jets wideouts last year.
Cap saved- $920K.
A cornerback who played almost no snaps, whose depth isn’t necessary.
Cap saved – $850K.
Another cornerback who didn’t play a snap last year.
Cap saved – $809K.
A safety/corner hybrid who only played 2 snaps last year and isn’t needed.
Cap saved – $780K.
The linebacker only played 3 snaps last year and will have his spot filled by the draft and free agency.
Cap saved – $774K.
A defensive tackle who is on a team that is already stacked in the position.
The Jets are the only team with 2 DTs in the top 15 on PFF (Williams and Fatukasi), and another at 34 (Franklin-Myers).
Shepherd also posted the lowest grade of any DT on the team last year.
Cap saved – $934K.
Another defensive tackle.
Cap saved – $326K.
Free Agency Signings
In total, 9 free agents were signed in 9 different positions to boost the Jets on both sides of the ball.
Robinson is a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL who has performed every year with little to no help at QB and WR.
There is no doubt in my mind that Allen Robinson is the best wide receiver on the free-agent market.
We’ve seen it before when a good #2 receiver has to take over the #1 spot, they can really fall off.
Let’s look at JuJu Smith-Schuster, for example.
After 2018 when Antonio Brown left Pittsburgh, JuJu took over as the top receiver for the Steelers and his receptions and yards production dropped over 40%.
In 2018 with Brown, JuJu had 111 catches for 1426 yards; the next two years as the #1 he averaged 70 catches and 692.
Robinson has always been the lone star wherever he goes.
Now we’ll look at his stats.
In each of his last two seasons with the Bears, Robinson has at least 95 catches, 1100 yards, and 6 touchdowns.
Keep in mind he did all of these things with Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles.
Also, his early career in Jacksonville was nothing to laugh at either.
During his first 3 years in Jacksonville, Robinson averaged 67 receptions, 994 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
Once again, all of this was with Blake Bortles.
Most contested targets since 2018: Allen Robinson (117)
No other WR has over 97 pic.twitter.com/WRvVp9YUDf
— PFF (@PFF) January 27, 2021
As you can see, Robinson has done a lot with very little to work with.
His QBs throw an average of 15 interceptions per year.
Cap hit – $20M
Scherff is a 29-year-old guard who just finished his 6th season in Washington.
The right guard made the 2020 AP NFL All-Pro First Team, making him the best guard, and possibly the best offensive lineman, on the free-agent market.
— PFF (@PFF) January 28, 2021
Scherff would be an elite, reliable starter who could help the sophomore LT Becton, and whoever the Jets take at 28 overall, improve as players while also taking some of the load off the line.
Cap hit – $15M.
Jones is simply the best halfback on the market, without question.
The 24-year-old has 1104 rushing yards last year on 201 carries, giving him the 2nd most yards per carry out of all running backs in 2020 with 5.6.
Most runs of 40+ yards this season
😎 Aaron Jones – 5 pic.twitter.com/oK4WPgtxXU
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 21, 2021
Jones also caught 47 passes for 355 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.
The Jets haven’t had a true star at running back in over a decade, maybe even two.
Jones would fill that gap, making this his second contract as he is only 26 years old.
Cap hit – $12M.
Remember that starting tight end role we were talking about?
Smith may be the most underrated tight end in the league, which is good because that makes him cheaper and gives us better value.
The 25-year-old spent his first four years in Tennessee, where he racked up 114 receptions, 1302 yards, and 16 touchdowns as the #2, and sometimes even #3 tight end.
Last year Smith had his best season yet with 41 catches, 448 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
Smith also had the 9th best reception grade out of all tight ends last year with a 77.
Cap hit – $9M.
First and foremost, Smith proved he can still compete after 4 years out of the league with 5 sacks last year, 5 tackles for loss, and 14 QB hits.
The 31-year-old is a veteran who can help boost the defense and be a leader on the field for the young defensive line, with both tackles being under 26 years old.
Smith also played linebacker before he was suspended for 4 seasons, making him versatile.
The Jets could even move him to linebacker permanently, as the line is already pretty stacked and they may not be able to find a starting-caliber player in the draft.
Cap hit – $8M.
Another underrated talent.
Okwara is a 25-year-old defensive end who had plenty of ups and downs during his first 4 years with the Lions.
He only started 9 games last season, but still racked up 10 sacks when it was all said and done.
Highest pressure rate this season:
1. T.J. Watt – 18.2%
2. Aaron Donald – 18%
3. Joey Bosa – 17.4%
4. Romeo Okwara – 17%
5. Chase Winovich- 16.5% pic.twitter.com/ahRIlZ28Sc
— PFF (@PFF) November 17, 2020
Okwara also posted the 4th highest pass-rush grade on 3rd down in the league with 90.9, and an 85 overall.
The Jets need Okwara and Smiths’ help, as no one on the team except Quinnen Williams got over 4 sacks.
Cap hit – $7M.
A solid corner who has played opposite of the slot and outside, making him just what this team needs.
Hill moved over against the slot last year but used to play on the outside.
In 2020 against the slot, Hill’s overall grade on PFF was 70.
Last year against the outside, Hill achieved a 76 overall grade.
Cap hit – $5M.
Neal is a quick-moving safety who can fly all across the field as long as he stays healthy.
Neal was healthy for the first time in 3 years last year, only playing 213 snaps across 2018 and 2019.
Last year, Neal graded 68 overall, putting him at 32nd among 93 safeties.
Neal is cheap and if he stays on the field, has real upside.
Cap hit – $5M.
This is the only player we are re-signing from the 2020 season who was supposed to become a free agent.
The linebacker/defensive end will be cheap and has real potential, getting 6 sacks in only 4 starts through his first three years in the league.
Alongside Smith, Okwara, Williams, Fatukasi, and Franklin-Myers, Luvu really could flourish next season.
Cap hit – $2.5M.
Let’s take a quick look at the 8 returning starters under contract for the 2021 season that I haven’t already touched on above.
Most of these players are rookies from the 2020 season who will be expected to take on a starting role or compete for it at the very least.
A speedy sophomore receiver that can flourish in the #2 spot across from Allen Robinson, who can also be the deep threat for this team.
Mims caught 23 passes for 357 yards last season, while achieving a 69 overall on PFF.
The 25 year old was the team’s slot receiver last year, taking 192 snaps from the slot and posting an overall grade on PFF of 72.
The Jets highest graded guard of last season, achieving a 66 overall.
Mosley used to be a star linebacker on the Ravens.
In 2020 offseason he was traded to the Jets, but missed his entire first year due to injury.
Now, the 28 year old will be the leader of this defense and hopefully flourish again under the team’s new defensive minded HC Robert Saleh.
The 2020 rookie posted and overall grade of 60 at cornerback, and can compete with draftees and other free agents the team might sign.
Another 2020 rookie corner, except Guidry only played 172 snaps last year.
Despite that, the 22 year old still got a 73 overall grade on PFF as the team’s backup nickelback, earning him the starting spot.
Davis is entering his sophomore season with the Jets, while posting a 53 overall grade last year at safety.
This is another position the Jets can swap-up before the season starts, depending on who performs in the pre-season.
If not, this would be your weakest hole in the defense going off of last year’s statistics.
3. The Draft Question
With all of our trades, cuts, and free-agent signings, we are looking like competitors in the 2021 season on both sides of the ball.
There are a few positions missing at tackle, linebacker, and some spots also need depth.
After all our cuts and signings, I set aside $16M for Watson and $12M for the draft signings, leaving us with $6M that I will leave for depth and emergency.
Now let’s get into the draft.
Round 1 – Pick 2
Traded for Deshaun Watson
Round 1 – Pick 28
This is where we get our starting tackle for the season.
With plenty to choose from, you could look at Alex Leatherwood (Alabama), Sam Cosmi (Texas), and Rashawn Slater (Northwestern), along with plenty of others.
There are many good OTs late in the first round; it all depends who the Jets like most and who is available.
I can’t do everything for them.
Round 2 – Pick 34
This is where I would take the best center available.
The starting center for the Jets, Connor McGovern, will cost them $9.33M in 2021.
Mcgovern is average at best, but it would cost even more to cut him at $10.3M.
Look at Trey Hill (Georgia), Landon Dickerson (Alabama), or Josh Myers (Ohio State).
Round 3 – Pick 66
This is where I think the Jets go for secondary depth:
Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State), Tyson Campbell (Georgia), and Shaun Wade (Ohio State).
The Rest of the Draft
The Jets have 5 more picks in the 2021 draft, where they can get depth for their more shallow position like linebacker, cornerback, safety, and receiver.
That was a lot.
21 cuts, 9 free agents, 8 draft picks, and 2 trades.
Let’s take a look at the starting roster.
- QB – Deshaun Watson
- WR1 – Allen Robinson
- WR2 – Denzel Mims
- WR3 – Braxton Berrios
- RB – Aaron Jones
- TE – Jonnu Smith
- LT – Mekhi Becton
- LG – Brandon Scherff
- C – Connor McGovern
- RG – Alex Lewis
- RT – 28th overall draft pick
- DE – John Franklin-Myers
- DT – Quinnen Williams
- DT – Foley Fatukasi
- DE – Romeo Okwara
- OLB – Aldon Smith
- ILB – C.J. Mosley
- OLB – Draft pick/free agent
- CB – Bryce Hall
- CB – Troy Hill
- CB – Javelin Guidry
- FS – Keanu Neal
- SS – Ashtyn Davis
All of that with $6 million left over, a great new head coach, and a 2nd year GM; there is no reason in the world this team should fail.