Breaking down the Jets' top 6 offseason needs, with Chris Godwin and Shaq Barrett potential fits

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Ralph Vacchiano
·4 min read
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Chris Godwin and Shaq Barrett TREATED ART
Chris Godwin and Shaq Barrett TREATED ART

There shouldn’t be any doubt about the Jets’ biggest offseason priority, especially since GM Joe Douglas spelled it out back in November.

Speaking about Sam Darnold’s struggles at the time, Douglas said “I have to do a better job of surrounding him with better players and better weapons.”

So consider that Job No. 1.

There are at least a dozen other jobs for Douglas to handle this offseason as he continues the never-ending rebuilding of the Jets, this time with the help of new head coach Robert Saleh.

But adding weapons to an offense that has ranked dead last in the NFL two years running is the obvious place to start. And Douglas likely will start there with at least one of his two first-round picks, as well as a good chunk of what could be $90 million in salary cap space.

Here’s a look at all of the Jets’ needs and priorities as the offseason begins...

A No. 1 receiver

They simply can’t come out of the offseason without one. There are multiple options with the No. 2 pick if they stay there (Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith) and plenty of good options at 23, too. But the real bonanza is in free agency, where they could have their pick of Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster and many more.

A tight end who can catch (and run)

Just look at what George Kittle did in San Francisco and how vital he and his position were to that offense. That’s what new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is going to try to do with the Jets, and it’s hard to imagine him doing it with Chris Herndon. So New York will have to upgrade. They could take a look at Florida’s Kyle Pitts if they trade down in the draft. Hunter Henry and Gerald Everett are interesting options in free agency.

Fixing the offensive line (again)

All that work done by Douglas last offseason to overhaul this unit and he may have to do it again. The only starters guaranteed to come back are LT Mekhi Becton and C Connor McGovern. The others are all expendable. The line will definitely be a priority for Douglas at some point in the draft. A Day 2 right tackle seems likely. In free agency, he may make a run at G Joe Thuney, who was high on the Jets’ wish list before the New England Patriots franchise-tagged him last year.

Cornerbacks

Bringing in veterans Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson didn’t work out for Douglas, but the Jets do have a couple of promising young corners in Bless Austin and Bryce Hall. Still, adding another is a good idea, maybe with the Jets’ second first-round pick (South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn?). The kids could use a veteran mentor, too. And it just so happens that Richard Sherman, who loves Robert Saleh, is expected to be a free agent.

An edge rusher

This years-long search takes on new importance if Saleh wants the Jets to run the scheme he used in San Francisco. What made that scheme go was a dominating front. And what made them so scary two years ago was the presence of dominant pass rusher Nick Bosa. Just imagine how much better Quinnen Williams (7.0 sacks) will be with an elite edge rusher on his side.

There’s probably no Chase Young in this draft, though there is some value later in the first round with players like Miami’s Jaelen Phillips or Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham. But the real value figures to be in free agency, where at least one of the Baltimore Ravens' duo – Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon – figures to shake free. They could make a run at either of them or Shaquil Barrett, if he actually becomes a free agent. And they should, since few teams can match the Jets’ cap room. There are also some bargain options, like 49ers DE Kerry Hyder, who replaced the injured Bosa and had 8 ½ sacks last year in Saleh’s scheme.

At least one running back

For all the talk of weapons, don’t forget that the Kyle Shanahan scheme that LaFleur will run is more of a run-based attack than a pass-happy one. They rely heavily on their running backs, usually in a rotation, and they want them to be versatile. So La’Mical Perine and the speedy Ty Johnson could be a good fit, but the Jets will need more at this position.

If they want to take a running back with the 23rd pick in the draft they could have a shot at Alabama’s Najee Harris or Clemson’s Travis Etienne. It’s hard to imagine them spending big on a running back in free agency like Aaron Jones. But there are lesser expensive options like Jamaal Williams, Chris Carson, or even Mike Davis, who did a heck of a job filling in for the injured Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. Playoff star Leonard Fournette is available, too.