New York Jets Rumors & News

Top 3 Offseason Needs: New York Jets

In advance of March 14, the start of free agency in the NFL, Pro Football Rumors will detail each team’s three most glaring roster issues. We’ll continue this year’s series with the New York Jets, who were more competitive than expected in 2017.

Depth Chart (via Roster Resource)

Pending Free Agents:

Top 10 Cap Hits for 2018:

  1. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE: $20,000,000
  2. Kelvin Beachum, T: $9,500,000
  3. Buster Skrine, CB: $8,500,000
  4. Brian Winters, G: $7,000,000
  5. James Carpenter, G: $6,805,000
  6. Ben Ijalana, T: $6,000,000
  7. Leonard Williams, DT: $5,928,004
  8. Jamal Adams, S: $5,058,820
  9. Jermaine Kearse, WR: $5,000,000
  10. Bilal Powell, RB: $4,883,334

Other:

  • Projected cap space (via Over the Cap): $74,579,406
  • Sixth pick in draft
  • Must exercise or decline 2019 fifth-year option for DT Leonard Williams

Three Needs:

Identify their next starting quarterback: Josh McCown did a solid job last year, but his contract expires in March and his 39th birthday is coming in July. Meanwhile, backups Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg stand as the Jets’ only QBs under contract. Petty, a Baylor product who was selected in Mike Maccagnan‘s first draft as GM, completed less than 50% of his passes upon taking over for McCown at the end of the season. Hackenberg, a second round pick in 2016, has yet to play a down of real NFL football.

It is possible that the Jets will look to re-sign McCown as their Week 1 starter after he turned in a handful of brilliant performances last year. In each of the Jets’ five wins, McCown completed more than 70% of his passes. He also helped Gang Green get out to a 14-0 lead over the Patriots in October before Tom Brady & Co. came roaring back to win by a final of 24-17. Still, that’s only a viable scenario if the Jets draft a promising but raw QB in April. Otherwise, the Jets will only consider keeping McCown as a high-priced backup, provided that he would be willing to serve in that capacity and the Jets can justify spending ~$7MM on a reserve.

The good news for the Jets is that this year’s potential free agent QB crop has a handful of quality options. With tons of cap room (though, not as much as some other teams have), you can expect the Jets to make a run at Kirk Cousins if he becomes available. The Redskins reserve the right to hit him with a third consecutive franchise tag or this could be the offseason that they finally give him the lucrative long-term contract that he’s looking for. But, if the Redskins allow him to test the open market or even the restricted market, the Jets won’t hesitate to get in on the bidding. This past season was not Cousins’ finest, but he has shown that he can be a backend top-10 signal caller when surrounded with the right personnel. If he reaches free agency, he’ll be the best QB up for grabs in years. 

The Chiefs are expected to move on from Alex Smith this year and if they can’t find a viable trade for him, they might release him outright. Adding Smith wouldn’t be as sexy of a move as signing Cousins, but Smith did lead the Chiefs to the postseason when many expected him to crash and make way for Patrick Mahomes. You also might be surprised to learn that Smith graded out as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best quarterback of the season, tying him with Russell Wilson and putting him ahead of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford.

Case Keenum, PFF’s No. 8 ranked QB, shocked the world with his performance this year and he just might help the Vikings reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1976. It’s hard to imagine Minnesota letting him get away at this point, but if he’s out there, the Jets will at least put feelers out for him. Of course, the clear downside with Keenum is that he accomplished very little before this season. Has Keenum, almost 30, finally come into his own? Or was his success the product of Pat Shurmur‘s system? On the plus side, Keenum looks the part of a postseason winner in this limited sample, something that could not necessarily be said for Smith. Smith is 2-5 in his playoff career with his last postseason W coming in 2015.

Beyond those three, there are some intriguing, yet risky, QBs who could be available. Teddy Bridgewater looked the part of a rising star in his first two NFL seasons, but he has not seen real playing time since the end of the 2015 campaign. Tyrod Taylor, at times, has looked the part of a legitimate NFL starter, but he would be more of a bridge option than anything for the Jets. Ditto for Bridgewater’s teammate, Sam Bradford, who is also scheduled to reach free agency in March.

Although he’s largely untested, QB-needy teams like the Jets will be keeping an eye A.J. McCarron‘s grievance case. If he wins, the Bengals QB will go from an restricted free agent to a UFA, allowing him to finally cash in and get his opportunity as a starter. It’s unclear how the Jets’ decision makers feel about McCarron, but the Browns’ old regime was willing to part with a second-round pick and a third-round pick to land him before the trade deadline.

Technically speaking, Drew Brees is also slated to be a part of this group, but he is widely expected to remain with New Orleans. Other big names like Eli Manning might become available, but the Jets have gotten an up close look at the two-time Super Bowl champ and are certainly aware of his sharp decline. There’s no scenario in which the Jets would sign Manning to be their starter for multiple seasons, nor is there a scenario in which Manning agrees to groom a top draft pick only to step out of the way during the season.

Sam Darnold (Featured)Armed with the No. 6 pick, the Jets will have a crack at this year’s best quarterbacks, though they would have to get ahead of the Giants at No. 2 in order to have their pick of the litter. Despite their hiccups in 2017, USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen remain the top arms in this year’s class with Darnold representing the perceived safer choice and Rosen possibly having the higher ceiling. If the Jets stay at No. 6 and miss out on both, they could entertain the likes of Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson.

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Details On John Morton's Firing

John Morton‘s firing may have come as a surprise to many, especially given that the Jets’ 2017 offense performed much better under Morton than most could have hoped. However, there may have been more to the dismissal, as Connor Hughes of NJ.com reports Morton and New York head coach Todd Bowles “clashed” throughout the season. Per Hughes, Bowles often made suggestions to Morton that were ignored, while other assistants on the Jets’ staff also took issue with Morton’s style. Meanwhile, Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan could emerge as a candidate to replace Morton, as the Jets wanted to hire Callahan a year ago, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), adding that Callahan has garnered offensive coordinator interest in each of the past two offseasons.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/17/18

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2018 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Buffalo Bills

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

New York Jets

  • P Ben Turk

Jets Fire Offensive Coordinator John Morton

John Morton is out as offensive coordinator of the Jets, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). The Jets were hoping that Morton would be hired away by another team, but that never happened. Instead, the well-liked Morton has been pushed out. John Morton (vertical)

Under Morton’s watch, the Jets finished 28th in total yards, 19th in rushing yards, and 24th in both scoring and passing yards. Overall, however, the Jets’ offense performed better than most expected.

Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is a strong candidate to take over his job, but nothing has been finalized just yet. Former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley could also be a candidate for the position, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

It has been rumored that Bates is the Jets’ preferred choice for the OC job, but he has indicated to the team that he is not interested in the position. It’s possible that Bates could have a change of heart if the Jets are willing to pay him more than the average OC.

Another name to keep an eye on is Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. DeFilippo was the Jets’ top choice to replace Chan Gailey last year before Philly blocked the interview request, according to an earlier report from Mehta. However, DeFilippo could be in play for a head coaching position this offseason and figures to have several other offensive coordinator opportunities.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Lose Assistant DBs Coach

  • Assistant defensive backs coach Daylon McCutcheon will not return to the Jets in 2018, sources tell Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. McCutcheon, who worked in New York for the past two seasons, will leave the club in order to move closer to his family on the West Coast, per Mehta.

Jets Won't "Go Crazy" To Re-Sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins

  • While the Jets have interest in re-signing pending free agent tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, general manager Mike Maccagnan & Co. have no intent of “going crazy” to retain the 25-year-old, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. Seferian-Jenkins, a former second-round pick who has overcome substance abuse issues, posted the best season of his career in 2017 by posting 50 receptions for 357 yards and three scores. While ASJ did tail off near the end of the year (he managed only 11 catches for 69 yards in New York’s final five games), his age and pedigree should allow him to garner a multi-year pact.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/10/18

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2018 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

  • CB Jonathon Mincy

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

New York Giants

New York Jets

Jets CB Rashard Robinson Facing Charges

Jets cornerback Rashard Robinson was charged with drug possession following a December arrest, as Manish Mehta of the Daily News writes. Robinson no-showed his court date on Monday, Darryl Slater of NJ.com hears, and he is now scheduled to appear in front of a judge on Jan 29. If he does not show up at the end of the month, an arrest warrant will be issued. Rashard Robinson (vertical)

The Jets acquired Robinson in a pre-deadline trade this year, giving up a 2018 fifth-round choice in exchange for the former fourth-round pick. Robinson appeared in six games but recorded just two tackles.

Police say that they found a marijuana-laced candy in Robinson’s possession after pulling him over for careless driving. Apparently, this is not the cornerback’s first off-the-field incident. Mehta hears that the 22-year-old (23 in July) had an “embarrassing and troubling incident” on a Niners team flight in 2017. He also had words with SF coaches, an outburst that prompted the team to ship him east.

Mike Maccagnan‘s Jets have rolled the dice on players with iffy track records in the past, but they might not have patience with Robinson given his lack of on-field performance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jets, OC John Morton

Offensive coordinator John Morton is not a lock to return to the Jets in 2018, as Manish Mehta of the Daily News details. The Jets will not stand in the way if Morton is offered an opportunity to join up with the Raiders. Meanwhile, some within the organization would like to see quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates elevated to OC.John Morton (vertical)

Morton is well-regarded in New Jersey, but the results have been underwhelming. This past season, the Jets finished 28th in total yards, 29th in first downs, 24th in passing yards, and 19th in rushing yards. Granted, he wasn’t exactly working with the most talented personnel out there.

If the Jets do nudge Morton out the door, it’s not a given that Bates will want to ascend to OC. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, Bates indicated that he is not interested in taking the job. Given Todd Bowles‘ desire for consistency, the team’s best bet may be to stick with Morton if Bates is unwilling to move up the ranks.

It’s always good to have consistency and continuity, but in the NFL things change all the time,” Bowles said recently. “You have to be ready. If we keep the same scheme, that’s great. If we have to change for whatever reason, we’ll go from there.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Want To Keep Demario Davis

  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Demario Davis look to be in the Jets‘ plans prior to free agency opening. The team has held discussions with Seferian-Jenkins about a re-up, Newsday’s Calvin Watkins notes, and wants to retain Davis. A Jet in five of his six NFL seasons, the soon-to-be 29-year-old linebacker could be in line for a significant pay bump come March after finishing the season as the NFL’s No. 8 linebacker, per Pro Football Focus. Davis, whom Watkins notes wouldn’t mind testing the market, took a pay cut prior to the 2017 season and earned just $900K in base salary. ASJ changed representation going into his UFA year. He caught a career-high 50 passes and gave the Jets a viable tight end weapon for the first time in years.