The Jets have a whopping 23 free agents. Some backups, some starters; some older, some younger.
But in the coming weeks, with a crucial offseason on deck and a make-or-break 2023 season to follow, general manager Joe Douglas needs to make a variety of decisions.
How may he handle each of these 23 players with expiring contracts?
Should retain (2): OT George Fant, K Greg Zuerlein
While Fant is on the wrong side of 30, the Jets could use a reserve swing tackle (or potential starter) who has familiarity with the roster and coaching staff. It’s very much unclear if Mekhi Becton will remain healthy in 2023 after missing virtually all of the last two seasons.
The Jets have been incredibly unlucky at the placekicker position in recent years and have bounced from guy to guy. But they have some stability with Zuerlein and should maintain it. Zuerlein connected on 30 of 37 field-goal attempts and 28 of 29 extra-point attempts in 2022.
Would be nice (5): DT Sheldon Rankins, G Nate Herbig, LB Quincy Williams, QB Mike White, C Connor McGovern.
Rankins is a decent player but one that’s definitely replaceable on the interior of the defensive line. Williams is also a nice player and was second on the team in tackles this past year with 106 combined. But Douglas would be better off addressing this spot in the draft, given C.J. Mosley is still under contract.
Herbig and White would provide depth at their respective positions, so re-signing either of them is a possibility.
McGovern could be a back-and-forth decision. While he has experience alongside guards Laken Tomlinson and Alijah Vera-Tucker, both of whom will be starting next season, he had a rough 2022 campaign. McGovern allowed five sacks, tied for third-most among centers (per Pro Football Focus).
Goners (16): QB Joe Flacco, G Dan Feeney, S LaMarcus Joyner, RB James Robinson, RB Ty Johnson, LB Bryce Huff, OLB Marcell Harris, WR Jeff Smith, FB Nick Bawden, LB Kwon Alexander, DE Solomon Thomas, DE Vinny Curry, DT Nathan Shepherd, OT Mike Remmers, OT Greg Senat, OT Cedric Ogbuehi.
Shall we go down the line?
There are better backup quarterback options than Flacco, who is 38 years old and might retire.
Feeney played only 18% and 10% of the Jets’ offensive snaps in 2021 and 2022.
Joyner is 32 and Douglas prefers not to re-sign safeties (SEE: Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye).
James Robinson was active in just four games after the Jets traded for him in October.
Ty Johnson is a reserve running back at best.
The Jets already have various pass rushers under contract, so Bryce Huff will likely catch the eye of another team.
Marcell Harris is another backup at best and was on the field for 8% of the Jets’ defensive snaps all season.
The Jets’ strong receiver room will edge Jeff Smith out.
Nick Bawden is a replaceable fullback, and who knows if the team’s new offensive scheme will even need one?
The Jets already have enough money tied up in Mosley and could replace Kwon Alexander in the draft.
Solomon Thomas, Vinny Curry, and Nathan Shepherd were lower on the depth chart and Curry is 34 years old.
And finally, Mike Remmers (age), Greg Senat (inexperience), and Cedric Ogbuehi (poor play) will depart due to the presence of tackles Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Max Mitchell, and/or a rookie, the four potential Week 1 depth chart options.
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