NFL News & Analysis

2017 free agency preview: New York Jets

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09: Ryan Clady #78 of the New York Jets in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 9, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on Feb. 24, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

There aren’t many positions the Jets don’t need headed into 2017, as the team is essentially restarting after a failed competitive rebuild. With a bunch of players that can be released, there is potential for the team to be active in filling some of their roster gaps. In what might be the last year of Mike Maccagnan/Todd Bowles, fans would like to see a long-term approach to this overhaul in hopes of being competitive again in the near future.

Salary cap room

$33,238,320 (17th in NFL; as of 3/6/17)

Biggest needs

  • Quarterback
  • Defensive back
  • Edge defender
  • Offensive tackle

Notable free agents

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, 42.1 overall grade in 2016
  • Geno Smith, QB, 67.5
  • Ryan Clady, OT, 47.2
  • Ben Ijalana, OT, 47.6
  • Nick Mangold, C, 78.0

Must re-sign

No player qualifies as a “must re-sign” guy for the Jets this offseason

None of the current Jets players set to hit free agency should be considered “must re-signs.” New York extended Brian Winters and Muhammad Wilkerson this past season, and the team's pool of UFAs isn’t very attractive. Because the Jets don’t have a left tackle currently on the roster, they’ll likely bring back Ben Ijalana; however, he struggled in his first full season, posting a 93.3 pass-blocking efficiency that ranked 54th of 74 qualified tackles. If they don’t land UFAs at their respective positions, Geno Smith and Ryan Clady can be re-signed to compete for jobs next season—but they should only do so if it’s on the very cheap.

Dream splash signing

A.J. Bouye, CB, Houston Texans, 90.9 overall grade in 2016 season

What an incredible breakout season for Bouye. While he only has one full season of tape, that tape is very impressive. He earned a 90.9 grade that ranked third among 112 qualified CBs. Bouye was elite in coverage, allowing a 58.5 QB Rating on passes thrown his way. He dominated WRs on a variety of routes and, oh, yeah, he’s also just 25 years old. It’s going to take some serious cheddar, but if the Jets are going to land a premier cornerback to rebuild their depleted secondary, Bouye should be their guy.

If Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor becomes available, however, he instantly becomes the next man up for the Jets’ “dream splash signing.”

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Tony Jefferson, S, Arizona Cardinals, 88.6

With Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor’s futures up in the air, the Jets have to fill a gaping hole at safety. Who better than one of PFF’s biggest breakout stars? Tony Jefferson was incredible in 2016. He finished the season as our fifth-ranked safety, earning a near-perfect 98.0 run-defense grade. Jefferson is versatile, with the ability to play both strong safety and in the box. On top of his elite ability in the run game, he is a sure-tackler, missing just one tackle for every 20 made (14th among safeties). As a team that’s rebuilding, a 25-year old coming off his best season sounds like a recipe for success.

Nick Perry, Edge, Green Bay Packers, 82.2

In the last 11 years of PFF grading, there has not been a single Jets edge rusher that ranked within the top 20 at their position. No other team in the NFL shares that same fate. Perry made a big leap in 2016, posting his highest grade at 82.2 (ranked 19th among edge rushers). Much of his uptick in play was due to his effectiveness in the run game; Perry’s 12.7 run-stop percentage led all 3-4 OLBs. He would be a seamless fit in this Jets rebuild across from Jordan Jenkins. With question marks surrounding Lorenzo Mauldin’s effectiveness, Perry (12 sacks, tied for fifth among 3-4 OLBs) would finally provide the Jets with some pass rush they so desperately lack (31st in team pass-rush grade last season).

Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2016 grade N/A

Glennon is the second-best free agent QB available after Cousins. While he doesn’t have an extensive resume in the league, he’s logged two seasons of meaningful snaps in 2013 and 2014. On those snaps, we’ve seen a capable QB, grading out at 72.1 (27th of 41 qualifying players) and 76.2 (21st of 38) in those seasons. Although there are questions about his accuracy and ability to perform under duress, the Jets need a veteran to pair with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as signal-callers. Overpaying for Glennon would be a mistake, though, and the team should only consider signing him for a reasonable price.

Kelvin Beachum, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars, 44.3

Coming off a down year, Beachum would be a nice scoop for the Jets. The past two seasons at left tackle haven’t been pretty for them, with Ferguson and Clady playing well below average. The New York offensive line is young, but missing a LT; presumably, LG James Carpenter, center Nick Mangold or Wesley Johnson, RG Brian Winters, and RT Brandon Shell are your starters in 2017. The Jets can sign Beachum and hope he has a year closer to his 2014 campaign (85.6) than his 2016 (44.3).

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

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