The Jets offense should improve, and amid that expected development, three players on that side of the ball may undergo make-or-break seasons.
The Jets offense should absolutely improve this year.
Yes, the team is set to start a young rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson, but notable assistance surrounds the 2021 No. 2 overall pick.
The Jets acquired a new No. 1 receiver in Corey Davis, drafted additional talented weapons in wideout Elijah Moore (second round) and running back Michael Carter (fourth), and utilized their other first-round pick (No. 14 overall) on a talented offensive lineman in Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Gang Green was last in total yards and points in 2020. The same story shouldn’t repeat itself in 2021, but although an improvement is expected, multiple players on that side of the ball will still be on the hot seat.
These three individuals must step up this coming season or else their respective futures in Florham Park may be in jeopardy.
WR Jamison Crowder
The Jets currently possess a multitude of talented receivers on the roster.
As we previously mentioned, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are now in the mix and the team picked up Denzel Mims in last year’s second round.
All of a sudden, Jamison Crowder is falling down the ranks of the Jets receiver room.
This descension on the depth chart also coincides with his ascension in age. Crowder is entering his age-28 season, which obviously isn’t an awful thing, but if the Jets and this new coaching staff are looking to take a younger route on that side of the ball (which they seemingly are), Crowder could be the next man out.
If he isn’t a highly productive target within the Jets passing game, general manager Joe Douglas may not bring Crowder back on a new contract in 2022.
The organization might even be uncertain with him right now — he hasn’t been at OTAs because he’s renegotiating his current contract and the Jets are attempting to persuade him to take a pay cut, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
OT George Fant
The Jets are all in on left tackle Mekhi Becton, as they should be. Douglas decided to use the No. 11 overall draft pick on the former Louisville Cardinal last year and he didn’t disappoint during his 2020 rookie campaign (solid 74.4 Pro Football Focus grade).
If Becton can continue to develop while impressing on the field, he should be the team’s long-term answer at that position.
The right tackle spot, however, isn’t so certain in Florham Park.
George Fant recorded a poor 61.6 PFF grade last year — his inaugural season with the Jets. He additionally allowed three sacks in the process.
Following the 2021 season, Fant could certainly be a cap casualty. He’ll have one year remaining on his contract at that point but his 2022 cap details include a $10.65 million hit and just a $1 million dead cap charge.
Fant not proving to be a legitimate strength within this offensive line could force the organization to part ways with the veteran lineman ahead of 2022.
TE Chris Herndon
Chris Herndon has been good, but not entirely spectacular since the Jets took him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. He caught 39 balls for 502 yards and four touchdowns his rookie season but played in just one matchup in 2019 due to injury and a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Last year, he racked up just 287 yards and three touchdowns on 31 catches.
While he still carries the potential to be a productive target for Zach Wilson and the rest of this offensive unit, Herndon will be in a contract year this season, and poor/inconsistent play could lead to his Jets tenure concluding.