Whether you want to admit it or not Joe Douglas and the Jets have been busy during the 2021 NFL Free Agency period. They still lack a few positions, such as cornerback and offensive line. However, there are still plenty of CB’s out there and this may suggest that o-line will be a focus come April during the NFL Draft. Douglas has approached this extremely wisely and did not typically overspend just because they entered the period with the second-most cap space in the NFL. The past shows that overspending is not always wise, since 2016 the Jets have spent the most money during Free Agency and have the worst record in the entire league in that span. They do have plenty of holes but this is just the beginning of rebuilding a dysfunctional franchise. Let’s breakdown the moves that the Jets have made so far attaching a grade to each one.
Grading the Jets Free Agency Moves
Jarrad Davis, LB
Former Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis was the first move of Jets free agency, once the tampering period opened up on March 15th. This may not be a flashy move, but it fills a need in a very thin linebacking corps. His versatility in a 4-3 scheme is what opened up the Jets’ eyes, and he just seems like a Robert Saleh guy. Throughout his first four seasons in Detroit, the former 2017 first-round pick spent most of his time as a middle back, but most likely will shift to the outside with C.J. Mosley back in the picture. They signed him to a one-year deal that could be worth up to $5.5 million.
Over the last two years, Davis has been impacted by injuries, which led to a minimal role in 2020, only starting in four games. Though, his 2018 season where he logged in 100 tackles along with six sacks suggests that the potential is still there, if he can manage to remain healthy and adjust to the defensive scheme.
Grade : C+
Corey Davis, WR
Later that day, New York went ahead and grabbed another Davis , in former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis on a three-year deal worth $37.5 million ($27 million fully guaranteed). This was a big-time move, as the Jets finally get themselves a potential WR1, as he was one of the top receivers on the market. The Jets have lacked a legitimate threat at receiver since the departure of Brandon Marshall. After being drafted fifth overall to the Titans in 2017, it took Davis a little time to adjust.
In 2020, we finally saw the potential, and we could be witnessing a stud in the making. He posted all career-highs, having 65 receptions, 984 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games. Davis is someone who leads by example and eats and breathes the game of football. He is also viewed as one of the more polished route-runners in the NFL. This was a home run sign that the Jets had to pull.
Carl Lawson, DE
Immediately after the Corey Davis signing, they went ahead and filled arguably the biggest need on the roster. The Jets found themselves an edge rusher in Carl Lawson, formerly from the Cincinnati Bengals. It has been quite some time since the Jets have been able to get their hands on an edge rusher, and they landed one of the brighter ones with Lawson. His sack numbers will not impress, with only 20 in four seasons, but he gets to the quarterback with the best of them. The sacks will come and this is an ideal defensive system to come to and grow, as it benefits all of his skill sets. Being beside Quinnen Williams will be a problem for any team on a weekly basis.
This had to be the best signing so far this offseason for New York, as they awarded Lawson with a three-year deal worth $45 million ($30 million is guaranteed). At just 25, the sky is the limit for Lawson and he will play one of the more vital roles for this team for years to come.
Keelan Cole, WR
Keelan Cole is not JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he fits a need and adds to an improved wide receiving corps. The former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver signed a low-risk, high-reward deal for one-year, $5.5 million. Cole is coming off a pretty solid 2020 campaign, despite playing for the 1-15 Jags and adjusting to numerous quarterbacks. He finished with 55 receptions, 642 yards and five touchdowns, and has been one of the few consistent receivers in Jacksonville for the previous four seasons. Cole will act as a serviceable option no matter who is throwing him the ball. This was another productive move by the Jets, adding more depth to a position they were weak at coming into the free agency period.
Remaining Jets Free Agency Moves
Justin Hardee ST/CB Grade: C-
Dan Feeney OL Grade: C-
Lamarcus Joyner DB Grade: B-
Tyler Kroft TE Grade: D+
Sheldon Rankins Grade: C+
Del’Shawn Phillips LB Grade: F
Vinny Curry DE Grade: C
Tevin Coleman RB Grade: B