6 potential Jets free agent targets

Cleveland Browns center Ethan Pocic against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns center Ethan Pocic against the Pittsburgh Steelers. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While recent attention has been focused on a potential quarterback trade, general manager Joe Douglas has also been gearing up for free agency. The Jets have restructured some contracts to create cap room and should have the resources to fill some holes and seek a few upgrades.

Let’s consider whom they might be looking to bring in:

C Ethan Pocic

Connor McGovern has provided the Jets with solid play at the center position over the last three seasons, but indications are that the Jets could allow him to walk in the offseason. McGovern’s athleticism brought another dimension to the running game, but with the offensive staff changing, could they be compelled to bring in someone with a little more size and strength to try and reduce the amount of interior pressure on the quarterback?

Pocic would fit the bill in that regard and also has experience at guard which could provide them with some longer-term positional flexibility if they draft the center of the future in 2023 or 2024.

If they instead opt to bring in a player with similar athleticism to McGovern, Garrett Bradbury could be an alternative option.

T Jermaine Eluemenor

The Jets had terrible misfortune with injuries at the tackle positions in 2023 and now face an uncertain situation with Duane Brown, Max Mitchell and Mekhi Becton all returning to the line-up. Douglas has said he would like to put together a line that can stay healthy all season so they could opt to bring an additional veteran who stayed healthy last year into the mix.

Eluemenor has been a journeyman his whole career but the 29-year-old finally found himself in a full-time starter role with the Raiders in 2022 and held up well. He has played both tackle positions and even started one game at guard last year, so he could be an affordable short-term option and a useful utility reserve if everyone is healthy

LB Kyzir White

Quincy Williams and Kwon Alexander are both out of contract, so the Jets may need to sign someone if they can’t bring either or both of them back. White, a converted safety, has the kind of coverage skills that could make him a good complement to CJ Mosley. The athletic 26-year-old has four interceptions and 17 pass break-ups in his career.

If you include the postseason, White played almost a thousand snaps with the NFC-champion Eagles last year, so he had a major role on a good team. Having signed a prove-it deal with them, he will be keen to gain some longer-term security.

DT Zach Allen 

The Jets also have multiple players out of contract on the defensive interior, including Sheldon Rankins, who was a starter last season. Allen is an ascending player who is a candidate to replace him, although he could command a big contract coming off the best season of his career. The 25-year-old had career highs in sacks (5.5), quarterback hits (20), passes defensed (8) and tackles for loss (10) in 2022.

Allen entered the league with the ability to play both inside and out, but has increasingly played inside over the past few seasons having reportedly added 15 pounds early on in his career. While he’s listed at 281 pounds, he’s actually closer to 300 these days. Rankins lined up alongside Quinnen Williams in the defensive line rotation and also saw some work as an interior rusher in pass rush situations, but Allen could be well-equipped to take on these duties.

S Jimmie Ward

The Jets already addressed their safety position with the reported trade for Baltimore’s Chuck Clark. However, they could be compelled to make another secondary addition with Ward potentially hitting the market. Ward was a favorite of head coach Robert Saleh when he was in San Francisco and has the versatility to undertake a variety of roles in the Jets’ defense.

If they opted to sign the 32-year-old, this could provide cover for both Clark at safety and Michael Carter II in the slot. Alternatively, it could make Jordan Whitehead -- who will be out of contract at the end of the season -- expendable.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

While we await confirmation of a potential trade for Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback position is the Jets’ No. 1 priority. If that deal were to fall through, the team would obviously need to pivot to another option.

Garoppolo is the biggest name available on the free agent market and obviously has ties to Saleh so he should be a good scheme fit. While it would be tough to swallow for a Jets fanbase that looked to be on the brink of welcoming a future hall of famer, Garoppolo has proven he can take a good team into the postseason and manage the game well enough for them to make a run.