Guest Post: How to Win Players and Influence Talent

With the frenzy of free agency already underway, let's not stand on ceremony. Let's simply discuss a couple of positions that there is lots of talk about the Jets finding help in through trade, free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft. Here's my layered take on a number of positions that the Jets might be looking to invest in over the days and weeks ahead. Let's get to it.


Positional Need: While I get this is wildly unpopular, I would still love to see the Jets try a full season with Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon as their top RB tandem and throw resources at the offensive line problem. McGuire and Cannon are two are potentially explosive players who could be surprisingly productive with a higher workload - and a much better line. Of course, that doesn't move the needle for pageviews on JetsFix so my boss is telling me to add some clickbait-y content below. ;)

Trade Target: Duke Johnson, RB (CLE)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 5th
Reasoning: Beyond Le'Veon Bell, CLE RB Duke Johnson is the running back that I covet most. Why? Johnson was a workhorse during his days at Miami and has been one of the league's most efficient players in the last three years. Johnson is impressive with a high volume of targets and his running efficiency (in the limited workload) has been good enough to warrant more work than he's gotten. Now, Johnson is stuck behind Jamal Lewis 2.0 (aka Nick Chubb) and newly acquired Kareem Hunt after signing a hurried contract last summer — a scant year from free agency. At a minimum, he'd upgrade the Jets pass-catching and could shoulder a 15+ touch per game workload for under $5MM APY for the next few seasons.

Free Agency Target: Le'Veon Bell
Highest Value Warranted: $13MM APY
Reasoning: What a difference six months makes. At that time, Bell was considered the villain in Pittsburgh for deigning to sit out the season. Six months ago, I was also eyeing Tevin Coleman closely as an alternative to Le'Veon Bell for the Jets. In a prime spot in 2018, Coleman faceplanted badly. If the Jets are going to throw significant resources after the RB position they need to address the line as well, otherwise signing a player of either Coleman or Bell's caliber will be a grossly wasteful use of resources. That said, I think Bell can do more with less, offers much higher value as a pass-catcher and could become a more efficient player as the Jets line improves. Even so and despite the big payday, we can't expect Bell to reproduce his gaudy numbers from Pittsburgh working with one of the most prolific play-from-behind offenses of the last five years. If it all falls apart, the Jets would be wise to set up a meeting with TJ Yeldon who could be a fine replacement level back.

Draft Target: Miles Sanders, RB (Penn State)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 3rd
Reasoning: There's not a lot of exciting prospects in the year's RB draft class. Sanders was one of the top recruits coming out of high school and was stuck behind Saquon Barkley until last year. While he's not Barkley, he's done enough to prove he has the profile to potentially be a complete back in the NFL. His Combine drills solidified him as a Day 2 prospect and if he's still on the board at the top of the third round, the Jets could do worse than to turn in their card with his name if they don't upgrade at RB through free agency or trade.


UPDATE: This of course has been made largely irrelevant by the news that the Jets are going to sign Jamison Crowder. Crowder was not my top choice, but when healthy he's been productive despite player on bad teams in college and the pros. He's a significant upgrade on Jermaine Kearse, but not as versatile a player as Devin Funchess from an outside/inside perspective. That said for just giving up cap space the Jets did commendably in signing Jamison Crowder.

Positional Need: Every Batman needs his Robin, and Sam Darnold is in need of a superhero sidekick. While the Jets have better than replacement level talent with Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, they don't have that star player who, when down four points in the late fourth quarter faced with a 3rd and 8 from the Jets 35, can unlock the offense for Sam Darnold. While there is no one readily available that suits that description for 2019, there's enough passable talent in free agency and what is shaping up to be a deep WR draft that the Jets should be able to find value to help Darnold within the span of his rookie contract.

Trade Target: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR (NYG)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 1st
Reasoning: Let me preface this by saying that OBJ is not going to be moved by the Giants and he is CERTAINLY NOT going to be moved to the crosstown rivals. Even so, this deal makes so much sense, it is now painful enough I cannot unsee this. The Giants have said they are not actively dealing Beckham (who looks like a choir boy now after how Antonio Brown played his Pittsburgh exit) but for the third pick, the Giants might have to consider it as it would allow them to sit in the driver's seat heading into the Draft in the midst of a bungled and begrudging rebuild. I doubt they will get a better offer. For the Jets, they would forfeit their top choice and $20MM in 2019 cap space, but would still give them enough flexibility to add some additions to their line and edge to take steps forward in 2019.

Free Agency Target: Devin Funchess, WR (CAR)
Highest Value Warranted: $10MM APY
Reasoning: If I am going to spend $10 million per year on a receiver, I'd much rather spend it on Devin Funchess than Golden Tate, Adam Humphries, Cole F**king Beasley, Donte Moncrief, John Brown or Jamison Crowder. After four years in the league, Funchess is still not even 25 years old, meaning he is approaching the age apex for his position and that his closest player comp in the right situation is Brandon Marshall.

Narrative zombies who say "well if he couldn't make it work with Cam Newtown in four seasons ..." fail to recognize Newton's poor accuracy as evidenced by his below average passer efficiency since 2015. At 6'4" 232 lbs, Funchess could be the big bodied slot receiver dominating smaller slot corners in the run game or at the point of catch. When asked to play outside, Funchess would pair well with a Darnold (much more accurate than Newton) on over-the-top out-breaking routes. With a less dominant rushing QB in New York than Funchess saw in Carolina, the Jets are going to need more red-zone receivers than the Panthers had to rely on.

Draft Target: Andy Isabella, WR (UMass)
Highest Value Warranted: Saints 2019 3rd
Reasoning: Isabella would be an incredible double-move weapon for the Jets in the vein of (yes really) Brandin Cooks to use out of the slot or on the boundary. With outstanding speed and agility, Isabella could be an immediate lid-lifter for whatever team he plays for. In the case of the Jets, he'd be blocked for playing time by Anderson and Crowder early in his career, but as a special teamer and injury replacement he could quickly become indispensible to the offense and Darnold's improvisational style of play.


Trade Target: Trent Williams, LT (WAS)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 4th
Reasoning: Washington is going nowhere fast and Trent Williams is languishing on their team. At age 31, Williams' time is limited and Washington should consider what they could get for him before he has no value to the team as a cap casualty or as a free agent in two years. With Williams in hand, the Jets could easily absorb his roughly $10MM APY while moving Kelvin Beachum to the right side of the formation or cutting Beachum in a bid to regain $8MM in cap savings the team could use elsewhere.

Free Agency Target: Ja'Wuan James, RT (MIA)
Highest Value Warranted: $10MM APY
Reasoning: Money covers a multitude of sins. While James had some choice words for his former coach, he would be familiar with the scheme thanks to their time together in Miami. While the Dolphins want to re-sign James, he's made it to free agency and the Jets have the space to absorb him for $9-10MM per year in order to lock down the right side of the Jets line.

Draft Target: Jawaan Taylor, OT (Florida)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 1st
Reasoning: While an edge rusher might fall to the Jets at the third pick, if the Jets are fortunate enough to trade back with a team looking for a QB they could right-size their first round pick to a top offensive line talent like Taylor who can help boost the running game as well as be a major upgrade to pass protection.


Positional Analysis: Since the Jets already traded for Kelechi Osemele, we'll skip trade targets here. I like the move by the Jets to grab Osemele for the cost of a late round pick-swap and picking up his contract. In it, the Jets were given the right to not bid for Osemele due to age, injury, use and scheme fit and upgrade one of their last talented units of the team in a bid to start protecting Sam Darnold. Osemele buys the Jets time to sort out an otherwise trainwreck of a position.

Free Agency Target: Matt Paradis, OC (DEN)
Highest Value Warranted: $8MM APY
Reasoning: I would love it if the Jets were able to sign Rodger Saffold, but Saffold has already publicly stated he wants to stay with the Rams and despite any reports the Jets would have to come strong with an offer with an APY around $8-10MM. With more than $20MM in cap space, the Rams can afford to keep Saffold for nearer to $6MM and Saffold would know he's closer to a Super Bowl in LA than he would be in New York - a real concern for a player at age 30. Matt Paradis has been a solid part of the Broncos offensive line for the past few years and although he's recovering from injury the Broncos have let Paradis test free agency, which will be the Jets gain. Paradis would be an immediate upgrade to the center position and would push Jonnothan Harrison to guard, thereby increasing the Jets depth.

Draft Target: Michael Jordan (OG/OC) (Ohio State)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 3rd
Reasoning: I would love to see the Jets use two of their first three picks on linemen in a decent class. Jordan surprised by coming out a year early from Ohio State and seems like a versatile interior player who can add value to the running game. Grouped with Osemele and Harrison and whoever else the Jets acquire, Jordan might not be forced to play from day one, but could be able to contribute if called upon.


Positional Analysis: The Jets will be paying for the sins of signing Trumaine Johnson last year for at least this year and likely next, but they still need to address the cornerback spot. Sadly, with such a huge cap commitment to Johnson and plenty of needs all around the Jets simply cannot afford to throw out good money after bad by giving up draft picks to trade at the CB position. That said, if the Jets could find a way to move Darron Lee to a team looking to move on from a viable but aging CB, that might be something. At this position we'll just stick to the free agency and draft layers.

Free Agency Target: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, DB (CLE)
Highest Value Warranted: $6MM APY
Reasoning: I know it's going back to the Browns' defensive back well, but a player like Boddy-Calhoun would be a helpful addition for the Jets at the slot and safety position. Calhoun is a versatile player who could man slot corner duties for the Jets or backup safety due to injury as well as pivot between third safety and slot roles as needed. If not, the Jets should pursue former Eagle Ronald Darby, who is returning off injury to see if he is available for a one-year prove it deal.

Target: Justin Layne, CB (MSU)
Highest Value Warranted: Saints 2019 3rd
Reasoning: The Jets have to add talent cheaply while they scrape the mess that was Trumaine Johnson's contract off their cap over the next two to three years. A player like Layne tested well at the Combine and comps well to players like Kyle Fuller. At a position where the Jets desperately need help, Layne could learn on the job in 2019 while the Jets build their defense for the future.


Positional Analysis: Darron Lee has been erratic and a disappointment to the Jets. Now moving to a new scheme and coming off a PED suspension, the Jets might be looking to where they can find players to match Jamal Adams play and leadership. The Jets have not had a disruptive edge rusher since the early aughts and so it is time for the Jets to address either the linebackers or edge rusher one way or another to help the back-end of this defense in 2019. With the recent Chiefs' cutting of Justin Houston and the availability of CJ Mosley, there's no need for the Jets to sink draft resources into a position where money will suffice.

Free Agency Target: CJ Mosley, ILB (KCC)
Highest Value Warranted: $15.5MM APY
Reasoning: The goal here is to set up the team for sustainable LONG TERM SUCCESS. While I grant it's a TON of money for a linebacker who won't be a featured pass rusher in a Jets defense, he'd bring the Jets an identity to the front seven of their defense that is sorely lacking. Overpaying a 26 year-old Mosley to lock the interior and pairing him with a edge rusher like Josh Allen would be a better use of resources than would signing a 30 year old sub package player like Justin Houston and then logjamming the edge by adding Allen or Bosa through the Draft anyway. To me, this seems like a much more prudent use of resources and funnels the Jets resources towards the NFL Draft more effectively.

Draft Target: Josh Allen, EDGE (Kentucky)
Highest Value Warranted: Jets 2019 1st
Reasoning: A month ago it looked like an impossibility that the Jets could dream of having either Nick Bosa or Josh Allen fall to them with the third pick. Now that the Combine is in the books and all indications are that the Cardinals will take Kyler Murray, the Jets stand a great chance to select a disruptive edge rusher. Should teams come calling for the opportunity to trade up to select a QB at #3, the Jets will have to weigh their desire to find a defensive playmaker like Allen against a player against a slightly less exciting first rounder with the added consolation of a second round pick. Given the Jets glut of needs neither is a bad choice as long as the Jets don't repeat the decade-long cycle of first round Defensive Line drafting abuse (Wilkerson, Coples, Richardson, Williams) and take Quinnen Williams ... for me the worst possible outcome from a need perspective in relation to that third pick.

BRIAN BASSETT is the "blogfather" of the Jets fanbase as he has been blogging about the Jets for almost 15 years. You can follow Brian on twitter here.