The Jets were 7-4 and riding high after a victory over the Bills back in November. And then life came crashing down.
Gang Green ended the season with six straight losses, finished 7-10 and missed out on the postseason for a 12th straight year (the NFL’s longest active drought).
Once again, sadness and desperation are upon Florham Park.
But the franchise must move forward and try to improve the roster during a long offseason. What could general manager Joe Douglas attempt to accomplish in the coming months?
Figure out the QB position. The Jets need to address the biggest question mark on the roster. Zach Wilson isn’t the guy and Douglas should look to trade him for a few early- and mid-round picks in the offseason. Mike White is a nice player but can’t stay on the field and doesn’t have the makings of a true franchise quarterback. Joe Flacco is on his way out of the league. Chris Streveler is a preseason hero, nothing more.
The Jets need to trade for Aaron Rodgers. Whatever it takes. This roster has the potential to be the real deal — now the Jets need a real-deal option at the game’s most important position.
There would be various draft picks given up and much money spent to handle Rodgers’ expensive contract. But in a make-or-break year, with jobs on the line, the Jets must swing for the fences.
If not Rodgers, then go get Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s set to be a free agent. But the longtime Packer is obviously the better choice for a Jets team with legitimate playoff aspirations.
Address the left tackle position. If the Jets are going to start over with a new quarterback next season, they’ll need to protect him regardless of who it is. And at left tackle, they don’t employ many promising options.
Duane Brown will be 38 years old next season, George Fant is injury-prone, and 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton has been an absolute draft bust. Like at quarterback, you can suggest the Week 1 starting left tackle isn’t on the roster.
Unless the Jets look to make a move for a quarterback in the first round, they should absolutely use their top pick to fix this crucial position. The Jets own the No. 13 overall pick and could land someone like Georgia’s Broderick Jones or Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr.
Who to re-sign? The Jets have various players who are either eligible for an extension or have an expiring contract.
First and foremost, they need to extend defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. He’s entering the fifth year of his rookie deal but played the best football of his life this past season. The 2019 first-rounder out of Alabama became a premier pass rusher, recording 12 sacks and 28 quarterback hits, both career-highs.
He absolutely deserves a payday and should be a staple for a young, talented defense. Expect Douglas to make him one of the higher-paid interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
The Jets also have a number of offensive linemen with expiring contracts (right tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern). It’s tough to imagine the Jets retaining Fant again when they already employ a younger Max Mitchell on the roster. Mitchell started five games during his 2022 rookie campaign and could assume a larger role next season as the starting right tackle. Still on a rookie deal, Mitchell would be a cheaper option than the veteran Fant.
McGovern is a nice player on the interior. But he’s expendable and it’s too early to tell whether he’ll return next season. We could see Douglas once again target this area in free agency like he did last year when signing starting left guard Laken Tomlinson. While keeping tabs on McGovern, expect Douglas to still target other interior linemen to try and find a starter for 2023.
There’s also safety Lamarcus Joyner, who had a solid year. But the veteran is getting up there in age. He is turning 33 next season and the Jets would benefit from a younger, fresher, cheaper option, whether that be Ashtyn Davis or someone else.
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