The Jets missed the playoffs for the 11th straight season, but coach Robert Saleh is confident that drought will end under his watch. General manager Joe Douglas has the tools to fix some of the Jets’ holes. They are more than $55 million under the salary cap (and could surpass $60 million), and they will have the Nos. 4 and 10 picks in the first round of the draft. Here are the areas that need addressing:
1 Shore up the D-line
Saleh’s whole defensive system is predicated on the line causing havoc, and the Jets didn’t do that. Things might have been different if edge rusher Carl Lawson hadn’t blown out his Achilles tendon in the preseason. The Jets allowed a franchise-worst 504 points and went into Week 18 with a bottom-five rushing defense. Douglas could use an early pick on an edge rusher. He also will have the money to spend on the defense, which is a must this offseason. He should lock up defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with a long-term deal and re-sign Foley Fatukasi to bolster the interior.
2 Get Wilson weapons
Zach Wilson needs to improve. His personal coach, John Beck, spent the last half of the season on the Jets’ staff, and that should help Wilson zero in on some of the things the Jets want him to work on. That said, he needs weapons. Receivers Corey Davis and Elijah Moore will be back. Denzel Mims was a major disappointment and might not have a future with the Jets. They need to make decisions on free agents Braxton Berrios and Jamison Crowder. Crowder took a pay cut this season and could leave. Berrios’ versatility makes him a good fit for the offense, and Wilson trusts him. Berrios should return. The Jets need more, though.
3 Work on the O-line
This is a huge offseason for left tackle Mekhi Becton. Much was made about his conditioning. Becton was limited in OTAs and training camp and then suffered a knee injury in Week 1 that required surgery and ultimately ended his season. The Jets still hope Becton can be an impact player. George Fant stepped in and had a strong season next to rookie guard and foundation piece Alijah Vera-Tucker. The starting right side of Morgan Moses and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will hit free agency, and for the sake of continuity, the Jets might try to bring them back. Keeping Wilson protected will be a focal point. Douglas could use an early pick on another potential franchise tackle or guard and spend in free agency.
4 Attack the
The Jets need to decide what to do with safety Marcus Maye, who played this season on a franchise tag. Maye could be tagged again; they won’t overspend for a safety when they have to pay for players at more premium positions. Cornerback is one that needs Douglas’ attention. He surprised many by not getting a proven cornerback last year. The Jets were happy with the play of some young, unproven cornerbacks (Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, Brandin Echols). Douglas should look to add a No. 1 cornerback in free agency this year and should target the best one in this draft, LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr.
5 Tight end needed
The tight end is a big part of the offensive system that coordinator Mike LaFleur runs, and the Jets certainly need upgrades. Among those who have excelled in the scheme are George Kittle and Jordan Reed. The Jets have no one like them; few teams do. The Jets want a tight end who can win one-on-one battles blocking in the running game and work the middle of the field as a pass-catcher. Ryan Griffin is under contract, but he could be a cap casualty. Kenny Yeboah has flashed some talent and could be back, but he’s not the answer. Tyler Kroft and Trevon Wesco aren’t, either. Tight end is another important weapon for Wilson that the Jets will look to find in free agency first.