By Robbie Stratakos
Coming off a dreadful 2-14 season, new head coach Robert Saleh inherits a New York Jets roster in need of a revamp. Fortunately for Saleh, as well as general manager Joe Douglas, the Jets have roughly $70 million in cap space to toy with this offseason.
Here are five players – outside of free agent safety and lifelong Jet Marcus Maye – that Gang Green should pursue in NFL free agency:
While mostly used as an “underneath” option with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the last two seasons, Smith-Schuster is capable of being more of an outside threat in the passing game, best exhibited by the 1,426 receiving yards he racked up in 2018.
Smith-Schuster would be the Jets’ number-one receiver. He would provide them with a physical and versatile outside option with Denzel Mims serving as a downfield threat and Jamison Crowder being the short-route option.
The Jets can continue enhancing the passing game by bringing in Everett to be their starting tight end. The four-year player has logged 400-plus receiving yards in each of the last two seasons and has missed just three games across his four-year career.
Everett would be the Jets’ solution at tight end in the passing game while also blocking for outside runs. Speaking of the running game…
The Jets need a running back, and Fournette would be a savvy pickup. The hard-runner is a short-yardage demon, a capable pass-catcher and has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons under his belt.
Fournette would add a proven commodity and a wealth of experience to the Jets backfield alongside quarterback Sam Darnold or a rookie play-caller – depending on what New York does with the second overall draft selection. The LSU product gives the Jets someone to move the chains and set them up with more manageable second-downs.
Another pressing need for the Jets is getting players who apply pressure. Reddick is a budding edge player who does just that.
Reddick is coming off a 12.5-sack season, has never missed a game across his four-year NFL career and is electric off the snap. He’s a quick rusher who’s respectable against the run and would have a profound impact starting off the edge in Saleh’s defense. The Jets have the coin to gamble on last season being a glimpse into the future for Reddick.
The Jets need a considerable player to line up next to stud defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Butler is on the cusp of being a force up front.
Butler has been a rotation lineman for the New England Patriots over the last four seasons, totaling 15 sacks and 96 combined tackles over that span of time. The Jets offer him the chance to start, help him develop and give Williams someone to benefit from his efforts in pushing the pile.
These signings would give the Jets players in their prime with fresh legs. They also fill voids and set the stage for them to take the best player on the board with their bevy of picks in April’s NFL Draft (they have five selections in the first three rounds).