Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley catches a touchdown pass against the...

Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley catches a touchdown pass against the Titans during the first half of an NFL game Jan. 7 in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: AP/John Amis

The Jets will head into free agency with no question about who their quarterback is. Everything they do will be to build for and around Aaron Rodgers.

There was some uncertainty at this point last year. Rodgers was still a Packer, although he said that he wanted to be a Jet early in free agency.

Having that position locked down puts the Jets in a better position when this free-agent negotiation window opens Monday, fully aware that last offseason’s mistakes can’t be repeated.

The Jets didn’t spend enough on the offensive line or backup quarterback and their big receiver signing — Allen Lazard — was a major disappointment.

General manager Joe Douglas has to assemble a team around Rodgers that can reach the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl while making sure the Jets have a more-than-adequate backup if the 40-year-old quarterback gets hurt again.

After Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon in Week 1, all the Jets’ shortcomings were exposed during a 7-10 season that has Douglas and coach Robert Saleh on the hot seat.

Douglas will have about $26 million to spend at the start of free agency — he’ll free up more — and the flexibility to be active in trades. Everything is on the table, especially now.

Here are five players the Jets could target in free agency.


The Jets did their due diligence on Ridley previously. He would take attention away from Garrett Wilson and make the offense more explosive. Ridley has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards twice, including last season with Jacksonville. If he’s in demand and the price is too high, the Jets could turn to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (who new receivers coach Shawn Jefferson worked with in Arizona), Kendrick Bourne, Tyler Boyd or Rodgers’ former teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Brandon Aiyuk, Courtland Sutton and Diontae Johnson could be names to watch in trades.


Protecting Rodgers will be the No. 1 priority. Onwenu could be one of the more sought-after free-agent offensive linemen. He’s the type of player the Jets should chase for their O-line rebuild. He is 26, played four years for Bill Belichick and is extremely versatile. Onwenu has played right tackle and both guard spots. He’s also only missed three games in his career. Durability is important to the Jets after last year’s offensive-line revolving door. Other versatile linemen include Miami’s Robert Hunt and Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler. Both would be welcome additions and big upgrades as well.


The Jets should look into Smith, an eight-time Pro Bowler with the Cowboys. Someone with his success should have many suitors so cost could come into play. One concern is Smith hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since 2015. Other tackle options are: Jonah Williams, three-time Pro Bowler Andrus Peat and Trent Brown to name a few. Williams, 26, is the youngest of the group and has started all 59 games of his career, missing just two the past three seasons. You also can’t rule out David Bahktiari, Rodgers’ old teammate and buddy, if he’s released by Green Bay.


The Jets need a proven backup, and they need to pay this year. They won’t come cheap. Minshew, who went 7-6 as a starter for Indianapolis last season after rookie Anthony Richardson got hurt, has been on the Jets’ radar. They were interested last year, but they had Zach Wilson and his $9.6 million cap hit, so they weren’t in on Minshew. Jacoby Brissett is a possibility, too. He signed for $7.5 million last year to be Washington’s backup. The Patriots may also pursue Brissett. Ex-Tennessee starter Ryan Tannehill is another candidate. Jets passing-game coordinator Todd Downing was Tannehill’s coordinator in Tennessee.

Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew looks to pass under pressure from Jaguars...

Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew looks to pass under pressure from Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen during the second half of an NFL game Oct. 15, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. Credit: AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack


With Jordan Whitehead, Ashtyn Davis and Chuck Clark set to hit free agency the Jets have to address the safety position. Several big-name players were cut this week: Poyer, Justin Simmons and Micah Hyde among them. Poyer, who starred for the Bills, would be an upgrade and has a relationship with Rodgers. The Jets don’t want to overspend on a safety but they could find one at a reasonable price in this suddenly robust market.

More Jets


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.