Jets 2024 NFL Free Agency Primer: Targets, cap space, and more

The legal tampering period and free agency are set to begin this week.

Where do things stand with the Jets?

Here’s everything you need to know before the madness...

Cap space

The Jets have $26.05 million in salary cap space, a number boosted following the releases of guard Laken Tomlinson and tight end C.J. Uzomah. This figure ranks 18th in the NFL. The Jets can free additional space with the release of defensive end John Franklin-Myers ($7.3 million savings) and trade of quarterback Zach Wilson ($5.4 million freed). They can also restructure/extend linebacker C.J. Mosley ($17 million base salary) and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams ($14.4 million base salary) to create more room.

The key in any restructure/extension is Woody Johnson’s willingness to do so. You create cap space by converting base salary (paid in weekly installments during the season, cap hit felt entirely in that year) to signing bonus (the cap hit spread out over length of the deal). When you convert to a signing bonus, though, ownership must pay that money up front. Some are willing to do that. Others are not.

Unrestricted free agents

QB Brett Rypien
QB Trevor Siemian
C Connor McGovern
G Laken Tomlinson
T Duane Brown
T Mekhi Becton
T Billy Turner
WR Randall Cobb
DE Carl Lawson
DE Bryce Huff
DE Solomon Thomas
DL Quinton Jefferson
DL AL Woods
DL Jalyn Holmes
DL Ifeadi Odenigbo
LB Sam Eguavoen
S Jordan Whitehead
S Chuck Clark
S Ashtyn Davis
ST Justin Hardee
CB Bryce Hall

Restricted and other free agents

CB Javelin Guidry (RFA)
C Jake Hanson (RFA)
DL Bradlee Anae (RFA)
TE Kenny Yeboah (RFA)
LB Maalik Hall (SFA)
OL Austin Deculus (ERFA)
DL Perrion Winfrey (SFA)

Franchise tag

The Jets chose not to use the franchise tag this offseason. They last used the tag on safety Marcus Maye in 2021.

Feb 28, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas speaks at a press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center.

Biggest needs

OT, OG, WR, QB (2), S

Potential free agent targets

QB Gardner Minshew
QB Jacoby Brissett
QB Ryan Tannehill
WR Calvin Ridley
WR Gabe Davis
WR Marquise Brown
G Mike Onwenu
OT Trent Brown
OT Tyron Smith

Storylines to monitor

What happens with Bryce Huff?

The Jets want Huff back. That makes sense considering he’s a homegrown, 25-year-old player who rushes the passer at a Micah Parsons-like rate and had 10 sacks last season. They probably should have made him an offer at some point this season to try to keep him from free agency. Now, Huff is readying to go to the highest bidder. One source expected him to get $12-$14 million annually. Will the Jets match or better that?

Can the Jets secure Aaron Rodgers’ backup?

Woody Johnson told reporters at the NFL Honors that the team’s 2024 hopes were derailed because they didn’t have a backup quarterback. That’s both quite the shot at Zach Wilson, and a sign that adding one will be a priority. There will be big competition for Minshew after he nearly took the Colts to the playoffs after Anthony Richardson’s injury. I question whether he’ll want to come to a team like the Jets, where there’s an established player already. Brissett and Tannehill make a lot of sense, though. The Jets did immense work on Tannehill last offseason before acquiring Rodgers. Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard, there are a couple of Titans assistant coaches now on staff.

Will a receiver be there for New York?

The Jets want to add a complement to Garrett Wilson. They thought they’d be able to get a star. The star well dried up. Tee Higgins (Bengals) and Michael Pittman (Colts) were tagged. Mike Evans re-signed with the Bucs. The Raiders have zero intention of trading Davante Adams. That leaves Ridley as the big fish in a shrinking pond. He’ll have plenty of suitors. The Jets will have to pay if they want him, or pivot to players like Brown, Davis and Valdes-Scantling.