Free agency is underway and the Jets have already signed a few guys that Jets fans might not know too much about. Over the next week or so (and throughout the free agent signing window), I'll be taking a closer look at each of the new signings and trying to assess what they can bring to the table for the Jets in 2013.

In case you missed it, I looked at Antonio Garay three days ago, Antwan Barnes two days ago and Mike Goodson yesterday. Today we move on to offensive lineman Willie Colon.

The 29-year old Colon is 6-3 and 315 pounds and has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers since they drafted him in the fourth round in 2006. He developed into a solid right tackle, but has been struggling with injuries over the past few years. In 2012, he moved inside to left guard and started 12 games. He looks set to compete for a starting role at one of the guard positions, with neither of last year's starters Matt Slauson or Brandon Moore expected to return.

After the jump, I'll be reviewing his career so far and looking in detail at how well he performed last season, before considering what he could provide the Jets with this year and going forward.

Who is Willie Colon?

Colon (pronounced like Cologne) is a local product who played guard at Hofstra. The Jets were apparently interested in drafting him in the late rounds in 2006, but despite not getting a combine invite, Colon was drafted in the fourth round by the Steelers.

In his rookie year, Colon did not get any playing time until the last two games of the year, where he started at right tackle. He was called for a taunting penalty, but didn't give up any sacks. In 2007, he started all 16 games at right tackle, giving up 10.5 sacks (per Stats LLC) and committing seven penalties, including five false starts.

2008 saw him develop into one of the Steelers' top linemen, as they would go on to win the Super Bowl with Colon starting all 19 games. According to PFF, Colon was their 7th best pass protecting tackle and 6th best run blocking tackle in 2008, although he was also penalized 16 times, pushing his overall grade down to 14th. Colon gave up seven sacks, but only 25 total pressures in the regular season.

In 2009, he played every snap and was even better in pass protection, giving up just six sacks and 15 total pressures to grade out as PFF's top pass protecting tackle in the NFL (and third best overall). His run blocking grade was not quite as good as in 2008, but still well above average. He also managed to cut down on the penalties but still had nine.

In June 2010, Colon suffered an Achilles tendon injury that would sideline him for the entire 2010 season. This left the Steelers with a dilemma, as his contract was set to expire. Now regarded as one of the best right tackles in the NFL, Colon was awarded a five-year, $29m contract. In 2011, he made his return, started one game - playing pretty well - and then suffered a torn triceps and ended up missing the remainder of the 2011 season as well.

This brings us to 2012, where Colon made the transition to left guard. He started the first 10 games of the year, before injuring his knee, limiting him to just one start over the last six games. Once again, he graded out positively in pass protection and for run blocking, but continued to have issues with penalties (12) as he gradually grew into his new role. Colon was set to earn $5.5m in 2013, but it was looking like the cap-strapped Steelers might still keep him. However, they eventually released him, reportedly without even attempting to restructure his deal and the Jets picked him up on a one-year deal worth $1.2m.

Let's review his performances last season before we summarize our observations to assess what he could bring to the table in 2013.

2012 Season

Week 1 – at Denver

This was a rough start for Colon. Playing against a good front seven, at altitude, in only your second game in 32 months is not ideal preparation to make your debut at a new position. He didn't help himself by false-starting twice.

They tested him early, running a stunt on his side which saw him drive the defensive tackle to the inside, but the end came underneath to make the sack. On a stunt later in the game, he just about read it in time and got enough of his man plus some help from the center coming over, to prevent a pressure. Colon had some issues in the running game - a couple of times he pulled right but couldn't create any kind of surge and the runner ran into his back and there were a couple of plays where he failed to sustain his block. There was one play in particular where it seemed like he is still adjusting to playing the guard position. At the snap, both Colon and left tackle Max Starks moved to their left and Colon's assignment was to block a linebacker. However, he didn't get far enough to the left before engaging with his man and therefore wasn't able to turn his man back to the inside. At the tackle position, you don't generally have as far to go before you set the edge.

Despite his struggles, Colon did otherwise handle his pass rushing responsibilities well. He also had a few good moments in the running game, sealing a linebacker to the inside, making a good lead block pulling to the right and peeling off a double team to make a second level block on three plays which netted 18 yards.

Week 2 – v NY Jets

Colon was much more settled in week two, although at times they had simplified his pass protection responsibilities by getting him to make double team blocks and be ready to come off the block to pick up a delayed blitz or stunting lineman. This led to him surrendering no pressure. The Steelers pulled him a couple of times as the lead blocker with David Harris his target. On one play (which was actually negated by a penalty), he blocked Harris completely out of the play but then gave him a shove, which actually enabled Harris to get back to the ball carrier (who had cut back inside) down the field. On another, at the goal line, Harris actually did a good job of getting leverage to force the runner back inside, but then Colon was able to use his strength to drive Harris inside and into the potential tackler (Bart Scott). This enabled the runner to bounce outside and around Colon's block into the endzone. His most impressive block saw him one on one with Sione Po'uha who he drove and turned to create a seam. The only real negative play was one where he allowed Kenrick Ellis to split a double team to stuff a run as Starks peeled off. There was also one play where he broke up a fight between Ellis and Maurkice Pouncey.

Week 3 – at Oakland

I was reminded of something Vladimir Ducasse said about making the transition from tackle to guard. He suggested that the hardest adjustment is that if you get half-beaten, you don't have as much space to recover. That seemed to be relevant here, as Colon picked up two holding penalties on plays (one draw play, one pass) where his man was able to get upfield on him just by getting half a step to gain the leverage advantage. He also got into a fight with Tommy Kelly, but wasn't penalized.

In the running game, he made a good pulling kickout block on a defensive end and did a good job of holding his ground against Richard Seymour to create a hole for a key fourth and short conversion. There was one play where he again wasn't able to maintain outside leverage and let his man get off the block, although that did still gain five. He gave up one pressure on a play where he was able to stay in front of his man, although Ben Roethlisberger had to step back to get the throw off.

Week 5 – v Philadelphia

In this game, Colon committed four holding penalties, mostly in pass protection. However, he was terrific in the running game, making a series of pulling or driving blocks. One on series, he made good blocks on four consecutive running plays that netted 33 yards. The first saw him pull right and get to his man's outside shoulder to force him back inside. The next one saw him turn his man to the outside the set up a run up the middle. He then drove his man off the line, turning him around in the process. Finally, he again turned his man to the outside. Perhaps his best block saw him turn his man to the inside to create a seam for a 17 yard run.

In pass protection, he was bullrushed back into Roethlisberger twice, although he still stayed in front of his man. Three of his holds saw him beaten in pass protection though, one on a spin move and two as his man got upfield on him and turned the corner. His other hold came on a run up the middle that was bottled up. On that play he didn't do a good job of engaging with his man and then reached for him with a desperation grab.

Week 6 – at Tennessee

Once again, he was much better in pass protection this week, not giving up any pressure. He also had an effective game as a run blocker. In this game, he did a good job of using the pass rusher's momentum to drive him out of the play as the Steelers ran a draw. He also drove his man off the line and to the ground on another play and did a good job of using his strength to maintain leverage at the point of attack. On another play, he initially drove his man out of the play although he then let him spin off his block at the last moment to get in on the assist downfield. There was one play where he was stood up at the line and the run didn't go anywhere and another where his man got off his block to stuff a run for a short gain.

Week 7 – at Cincinnati

Another solid game here for Colon as a run blocker, as he made a clean pulling block on a linebacker to spring a 15-yard run and kept his man on the outside as a run went up the middle. Late in the game, he had two good second level blocks to help spring 14 and 32 yard runs. In pass protection, he did give up 1.5 sacks. Geno Atkins drove him back and threw him to the ground for a half sack, although the right tackle was also cleanly beaten so it probably would have been a sack anyway. The other sack he surrendered saw the Steelers shift protection over at the last minute so that the left tackle had to pick up a linebacker coming off the edge and Colon had to move laterally to pick up a defensive end. The end (Michael Johnson) did a good job of spinning off his block to make the sack as a bullrush on the left side left the quarterback with nowhere to go.

Oh...and this happened:

Week 8 – v Washington

Colon continued to grow into his new role and have an impact in the running game. He had two excellent "seal and peel" second level blocks here on two plays that netted 23 yards. One saw him drive the linebacker to the inside and the other saw him get just enough of his man on the move to allow the runner to get outside. What was striking about these blocks was that instead of just making the usual token double team block before peeling off, he really made an effort to hit the defensive tackle hard to knock them off balance. That's the kind of nastiness that makes a difference. He made a couple of other good blocks on plays that didn't gain much yardage but there were two plays where his man got the better of him - one as the defensive tackle won the leverage battle to force the runner to redirect and another where he didn't sustain his block on a run up the middle.

Week 9 – at NY Giants

This was another good game as Colon spearheaded the running game to 158 yards and a big win. Early in the game, he had a great interior kickout block on a defensive tackle to create a seam for a 17-yard run. He then drove his man to the inside to set up a five yard run on 2nd and three. On another play he made a pulling lead block and the runner initially had nowhere to go, but remained patient and then was able to bounce outside for 12 as Colon regrouped to seal his man to the inside. There were some plays where he didn't make his block and the run was bottled up, but overall he played a big part in the win, also managing to keep a clean slate in pass protection. Ironically, the biggest run of the game - a 33-yarder that iced the contest - came on one of Colon's least impressive plays. He lost inside leverage and his man came up into the hole to blow up the run, but then missed the tackle, letting the runner escape into the open field.

Week 10 – v Kansas City

Once again Colon had a big impact in the running game. Again he wasn't perfect, but had more positive than negative plays. His best block was a perfectly timed pulling block where he hit the linebacker in the hole to set up a 17-yard run.

Colon had another good game in pass protection, with the only pressure he surrendered being on an early release for a screen pass. On another play, he blocked his man in pass protection well and then sealed him to the inside as Roethlisberger took off on a 14-yard scramble, although he may have been lucky to get away with a hold. He definitely frustrated Dontari Poe in this game, as he appealed for a holding penalty on a number of occasions. However, Colon did get called for a hold early in the game as his man again got outside leverage and then compounded that by cursing the official to draw another flag. He also showed good hustle to recover a fumble.

Week 11 – v Baltimore

At that point of the season, Colon was again grading out among the league leaders at his position for pass protection and run blocking. However, he finished the year with two poor games. Not helping was the fact that he injured his knee on this play, which he implied was a cheap shot by Terrell Suggs:

That actually happened in the fourth quarter and although he finished the game and was active for the next three weeks, kept him off the field until week 14.

Despite the fact he graded out poorly, the Steelers still ran for 134 yards, almost 30 more than their average output at that stage of the season. He lost leverage a couple of times and didn't always sustain his blocks. The Ravens also exploited his lack of experience at the position as Suggs hit Roethlisberger after stunting underneath Colon and James Ihedigbo sacked him on an overload blitz where Colon blocked the same guy as the center, leaving Digs unblocked. He also had a holding penalty on a running play.

Week 14 – v San Diego

Colon had to have his knee drained a couple of times and his return to the lineup in week 14 only lasted 23 snaps as it was clear he was struggling with his lateral movement, giving up three pressures in pass protection (having only given up 11 total pressures in his first 10 games). He false started for the first time since the opener and let his man get off his block to make an assist on 3rd and short after initially having driven him back only to fall over.

Observations

Based on all the footage I watched, here was my take on what Colon brings to the table, divided into categories:

Usage - As noted, Colon played guard in college. He also has experience as a defensive tackle. He played right tackle from 2006 to 2011 and moved to left guard for 2012. The Steelers do not run unbalanced line formations, so he hasn't played as an extra tight end or on the left side.

Athletic Ability - Colon is pretty good on the move, especially considering his size. However, his strength is his most impressive attribute. There were a lot of examples of plays where it looked like he was going to lose leverage, but managed not to with pure upper body strength. In fact, he sometimes relies on his athletic ability to make up for poor footwork or technique. That's not to suggest he's a bad technician, these were just plays where he was either slow to react or got thrown off balance by a defender. It might explain some of his penalties though.

Run Blocking - The book on Colon is that he has short arms and that probably contributes to him losing the leverage battle at times. However, his strength often enables him to overcome this. Colon had more and more success with the left guard staple blocks (pulling lead block to the right, seal-and-peel block at the second level) as the season went along and he really seemed to get more comfortable at the guard position. He doesn't always sustain his blocks and maybe isn't always dominant as a drive-blocker, but he definitely had more positive than negative blocks. The most impressive aspect of Colon's 2012 season as a run blocker is that he hardly ever allowed any penetration.

Pass Protection - Colon's pass protection numbers were solid after his move to guard. He ended up with the 18th best Pass Blocking Efficiency rating among NFL guards. Not bad considering it was his first season in that role. A lot of the pressure he gave up came in a situation where he had to pick up another player due to a stunt or overload or from bullrushes where he stayed in front of his man so it was rare for his man to get by him one-on-one for a pressure (although admittedly he did resort to holding to prevent that on a number of occasions).

Scheme Familiarity

Although the Steelers were known for their man-blocking scheme in the Alan Faneca era, they have been incorporating some zone read stuff in their system since 2007 (and are actually talking about a shift towards more zone blocking in 2013, which may be one of the reasons Colon was let go). Colon joins a team that figures to be playing the West Coast Offense, although Marty Mornhinweg recently indicated that they will run multiple schemes. Under Todd Haley (who ironically almost joined the Jets last year before accepting the Steelers offensive coordinator job), the Steelers did introduce some West Coast elements to their offense although they still threw downfield a lot. All of that should mean that last year was good preparation for Colon to come in and pick up the Jets system, which is expected to be heavily West Coast Offense-influenced and with plenty of zone/stretch run blocking.

Instincts - Considering he was playing a position he hadn't played since college (seven years ago) Colon did seem to handle situations where he had to react to a blitz or something reasonably well, although he was caught out by a few exotic pass rush schemes.

Attitude - Much like the other three signings, Colon has a fiery attitude and comes to the Jets with what he calls a "big-ass chip" on his shoulder. There were several examples of him getting into fights (including one in Steelers camp) and the Vontaze Burfict incident shown above is something Steelers fans loved him for:

"I was hungry and tired of losing on the road," Colon said, referring to the Steelers’ 0-3 start away from home. "If I’ve got to start a fight to get this team going, I’ve got no problem doing it. … For me, if I have to be the bully, I have no problem doing it."

Conclusions

Colon was an outstanding right tackle, but his injuries have really hurt the Steelers over the last few seasons. Even last year, as soon as he got hurt, Starks went downhill, which can't be a coincidence. After two years with just one appearance, it's encouraging that he managed to start 11 games last year. The knee injury was nothing serious and he played some good games, so it seems like he has put the effects of the heel and arm injuries behind him, although they may be part of the reason he moved inside. These things do add up over time and the Jets probably can't count on him being healthy all year.

The other concern about Colon is penalties. He has 44 in 62 starts. It does seem like he's cut down on the false starts - he had 15 from 2007 to 2009 but only three last year, two of which were in the opener (his first game at the guard position). However, his seven accepted holding penalties last year were a career high. Mind you, only two of those came after the fourth game of the year, so it seems like he made the adjustment there - although I would caution that there were several plays where a hold could have been called or was appealed for by a defender.

The most positive thing about Colon is that he seemed to get better as the season went on, suggesting that he was getting comfortable at the guard position and growing nicely into the role. That could make this a potential high-upside move. He got better in pass protection, had more of a direct impact in the running game and cut back on the penalties as the season went on. The season did end on a sour note with two rough performances, but there were other reasons for those - mostly injury related.

If Colon can stay healthy and play as well as he did last year, then he should be a good starter for the Jets at guard. (The possibility of using him at tackle in an emergency is a bonus). However, that's far from certain so the Jets would be smart to add more depth on the interior, unless they're higher on Ducasse and Caleb Schlauderaff than any of us realize. If he is healthy then he could even surpass last year's performance because a lot of his struggles last year were attributable to learning a new position and I don't see him as the finished article yet, even though he's still capable of making an impact.

This looks like another low-risk move with potentially high rewards. It will be interesting if the Jets continue to target players that fit this description.

Tags: BGA, Editorial Aside, Bent Double

 (Winslow Townson)
(Winslow Townson)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets have seen Sheldon Richardon, Damon Harrison, and Quinton Coples depart within the past few seasons. With the departure of Muhammad Wilkerson thought to be imminent, they suddenly find themselves in a position where they lack depth on the defensive interior.

In addition, a potentially promising pipeline of young depth hasn't really materialized. Deon Simon and Claude Pelon couldn't crack the rotation, and spent most of the year on the practice squad, while Lawrence Thomas became a full back. Leonard Williams will be back, but his 2017 season was arguably just as disappointing as Wilkerson's, and he might find that teams can more readily gameplan around him if he's not surrounded with the same kind of talent...

Tags: Deon Simon, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon
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Daily News Live: NFL Combine 00:03:50
The Daily News Live panel breaks down which quarterbacks have the most to prove at the upcoming NFL Combine.

The Daily News Live panel breaks down which quarterbacks have the most to prove at the upcoming NFL Combine.

Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Lamar Jackson are among the top prospects.

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Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: When the Jets start their sales pitch to Kirk Cousins, he's going to want to know about more than just the size of their check. He's going to want to know, among other things, how they plan to protect him.

That's a project they can get started on right now.

The Jets should begin by re-signing center Wesley Johnson before the free-agent market opens on March 14, and solidify what was a young and better-than-you-think offensive line last season. Together with right guard Brian Winters and right tackle Brandon Shell, it would give the Jets a strong young corps on the line to build around. And with two solid veterans on the left side -- tackle Kelvin Beachum and guard James Carpenter -- it's a line that could actually be pretty good.

Tags: Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

In ESPN Insider Mel Kiper's eyes, "Broadway Baker" will find his way to the Jets in his latest mock draft. 

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has seen his draft stock significantly rise all season. After leading his Sooners team to the College Footbal Playoff with gutsy drives and precision passing all season long, Kiper thinks he is the starter -- and leader -- the Jets need under center. 

READ KIPER'S ANALYSIS BELOW

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown
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GEICO SportsNite: Cousins 00:02:18
The Jets hope to be in the mix to land highly touted free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins in order to provide stability at the QB position.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The entire Jets offseason will be played out in the shadow of Kirk Cousins -- the biggest name on the free-agent market, and the franchise quarterback they so desperately need. And that's even true right now, as the NFL's 15-day "franchise tag" window opens on Tuesday.

The Jets aren't likely to use the tag, but the Washington Redskins are reportedly considering using it on Cousins.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Demario Davis, Morris Claiborne, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports  (Kevin Jairaj)
Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Jairaj)

The offensive line was a huge disappointment for the Jets in 2017, especially on the interior. In 2016, Wesley Johnson started eight games for the injured Nick Mangold, and the line didn't seem to suffer too badly. However, he struggled throughout the 2017 season after moving into the full-time starter role.

Guards Brian Winters and James Carpenter also failed to play as well as they had in 2016, although that may partly have been caused by Johnson struggling on their inside shoulder.   Injuries were also an issue here, with Winters in particular playing most of the season hurt, and eventually requiring surgery on an abdominal issue.

Dakota Dozier's performances in relief of Winters over the past few years have some people wondering if it was really wise to give Winters a big money extension, when Dozier doesn't appear to be much of a downgrade. However, he's out of contract now, so the Jets may need to replenish their depth.

Tags: Brian Winters, Dakota Dozier, James Carpenter, Nick Mangold
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Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon (99) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium.  (Brad Penner (USA Today))
Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon (99) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets exercised their options on two defensive starters on Tuesday, ensuring that defensive tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Josh Martin will both be back for the 2018 season.

The Jets were facing a deadline of Tuesday on both players, but the decision likely wasn't difficult, especially with the team likely to have nearly $100 million in salary cap space to spend this offseason. McLendon is due a salary of $3.125 million this year and has a salary cap number of $4.25 million. Martin is due a salary of $1.8 million, with a cap number of $2.1 million.

The moves come one day after the Jets declined their 2018 option on tackle Ben Ijalana, making him an unrestricted free agent...

Tags: Steve McLendon, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Kelvin Kuo)
(Kelvin Kuo)

It is no secret the Jets wants top free-agent QB Kirk Cousins on their roster next season, and it came out Monday that they are "willing to pay whatever it takes." But what if Cousins decides to sing elsewhere? What is the Jets' next move from there?

According to SI's Peter King, the Jets should be high on bringing back Josh McCown, and drafting Heisman Trophy Award winner Baker Mayfield ahead of next season. Though the jets are expected to have a pretty healthy cap situation, McCown could come back for cheap, and Mayfield will obviously be on a rookie contract. 

King doesn't deny that Cousins could certainly be a Jet, but this situation could also work with McCown mentoring Mayfield as he did Johnny Manziel back in 2014. 

Tags: Josh McCown
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New York Jets tackle Ben Ijalana blocks during the second half of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets tackle Ben Ijalana blocks during the second half of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports Images)

The Jets made offensive tackle Ben Ijalana a free agent on Monday after they failed to exercise his player option.

New York did not exercise Ijalana's $500,000 option bonus that would have activated his $4.5 million base salary for the 2018 season. By doing so, the Jets will save a total of $4.6 million.

Tags: Ben Ijalana
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Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Jets know they need a quarterback, and in particular, free-agent QB Kirk Cousins. That is why the team is "willing to pay whatever it takes" to employ him next season, per ESPN's Rich Cimini

New York has failed to find their franchise quarterback for years now, as fill-ins, so to speak, continue to come to town with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg failing to show they are the guy the Jets need. Josh McCowwas the latest of those rentals, and he had a career year before an injury unfortunately ended his season. 

This offseason, though, GM Mike Maccagnan has no excuse in Cimini's eyes. He currently has over $70 million in cap space, and could have more than that by the time they can grab Cousins. The Redskins can still franchise tag him, so they could use him in a trade, but that is unlikely. 

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown
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In 2017, the Jets' running game struggles probably had more to do with the offensive line being overmatched than the performance of the backs.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte
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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron throws against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. (David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron throws against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. (David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets reportedly turned down a Cincinnati Bengals trade proposal that would have sent quarterback AJ McCarron to New York last season, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini.

Cincinnati, according to Cimini, called the Jets organization at the start of free agency and offered McCarron in a trade, however the Jets turned it down to focus on free agency. It is unclear what Cincinnati requested in the deal.

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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets started over last offseason and actually built themselves a nice core of talent. They have many young, inexpensive players they can build around this spring.

They certainly have the tools to build around them - perhaps as much as $100 million in cap room, the sixth overall pick in the draft, and some extra picks too. And that's good, because even though the Jets exceeded expectations last season, they were still 5-11, and have plenty of holes to fill.

Now, as they get ready to begin Phase 2 of their rebuilding project, here's a look at their biggest needs.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brian Winters, James Carpenter, Juston Burris, Leonard Williams, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter: Cornerback is one position where the Jets obviously need to upgrade.

They opted not to pick up a corner from last year's deep draft class until they took two project players - Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones - in the sixth round. The coaching staff claimed to like the upside of these players along with Juston Burris and Darryl Roberts as well as Rashard Robinson, who was added via trade at the deadline.

However, none of these players stepped up as hoped.

Tags: Derrick Jones, Jeremy Clark, Juston Burris, Morris Claiborne
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 (Kirby Lee)
(Kirby Lee)

"Broadway Baker" has a nice ring to top prospect QB Baker Mayfield

The 2017 Heisman Trophy Award winner sat down with The Post's Steve Serby to talk about the prospect of playing in the Big Apple, and if he has what it takes to succeed in a market that isn't friendly to anyone. 

Simply put: Mayfield loves the spotlight...

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New York Jets quarterback coach Jeremy Bates during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback coach Jeremy Bates during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have officially announced the hiring of Jeremy Bates as offensive coordinator/QB Coach, and announced the hirings of Rick Dennison as offensive line coac/run game coordinator and Steve Jackson as assistant defensive backs coach.

"Jeremy is a talented coach who has a sound understanding of what it takes to build a successful offense," head coach Todd Bowles said in a press release. "Having spent last season with us, he offers continuity and has a good sense of what we need to do to improve. I look forward to him working together with our offensive coaches."

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: When Todd Bowles decided to fire offensive coordinator John Morton, he always had quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates in mind as a replacement...

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 (Jeremy Brevard)
(Jeremy Brevard)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets have been a team whose defense has been built around their interior linemen for a long time, but Muhammad Wilkerson's anticipated departure could be an opportunity to reinvent themselves by finding a difference-maker who can create constant pressure off the edge.

The Jets haven't really had an elite edge rusher since John Abraham, who was traded before the 2006 draft. They've tried drafting one high (Vernon Gholston), converting an interior lineman into one (Quinton Coples), and bringing in an established veteran (Jason Taylor). But none of these have been successful. None of their low-cost free agents, reclamation projects, or later draft picks have stepped up either.

Tags: Dylan Donahue, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin
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Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are in position to be the kings of free agency, with potentially more salary cap room to spend than any team except for the Cleveland Browns. They are already projected to have about $75 million in salary cap space, and that's if they don't make another move.

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New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne breaks up a touchdown attempt to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne breaks up a touchdown attempt to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When the free agency frenzy finally begins, the Jets figure to be at the center of the storm. And all eyes will be on how hard they go after the quarterback they so desperately need.

But they have a ton of salary cap space to spend in other areas, including maybe on the 24 players they have on their roster who are approaching free agency. Here's a look at all their free agents-to-be, and their prospects of returning or finding potential riches somewhere else around the league:

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brent Qvale, Chandler Catanzaro, Dakota Dozier, Demario Davis, Josh McCown, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Rontez Miles, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Mark J. Rebilas)
(Mark J. Rebilas)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

There are always plenty of receiver prospects who make an immediate impact as a rookie, even in the later rounds. However, the Jets haven't had much success in recent years despite selecting seven wideouts in the last four drafts.

While four of those seven are under contract for 2018 and a fifth -- restricted free agent Quincy Enunwa -- also figures to be back, the Jets got just 15 catches of production from that group in 2017.

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Daily News Live: Jimmy Garoppolo 00:03:54
The Daily News Live crew discusses the impact Jimmy Garoppolo's new contract will have on the deal Kirk Cousins will want.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jimmy Garoppolo just became the NFL's highest paid player, even though he's only started seven NFL games and thrown 12 touchdown passes in four seasons. He reportedly agreed to a monster, five-year, $137.5 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers -- a record average of $27.5 million per season. That record will be very short-lived.

It's a simple fact of the NFL that the price of franchise quarterbacks only goes up, and in less than five weeks another one will be on the open market. And when Kirk Cousins officially becomes free on March 14 you can bet his deal will eclipse what Garoppolo just got...

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 (Glenn Andrews)
(Glenn Andrews)

In NFL.com's latest mock draft, Chad Reuter forecasted the first three rounds for all teams. With the Jets first selection at no. 6 overall, Reuter has them taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen.

The Jets take Allen over Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who fell to the Cardinals at no. 15. USC QB Sam Darnold went no. 1 to the Browns and UCLA QB Josh Rosen went no. 2 to the Giants.

Allen threw for 3,202 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his sophomore season. However, his production dropped this season to 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also suffered a shoulder injury, and was forced to miss the final two regular-season games this year...

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 (Chuck Cook)
(Chuck Cook)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Most of the draft discussions surrounding quarterback prospects have been focused on the consensus top five prospects: UCLA's Josh Rosen, USC's Sam Darnold, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson from Louisville.

However, depending how the offseason goes, the Jets might end up in a situation where they're not in the market for one of the top prospects.

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Nov 26, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) (Jay Biggerstaff)
Nov 26, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) (Jay Biggerstaff)

The Chiefs have released former Jet Darrelle Revis, the team announced. 

Revis, 32, would have been owed a $10 million contract guarantee if he was still on the roster on March 18. He was signed by Chiefs in November, playing five games, including two starts. 

After the Chiefs' season ended, Revis admitted he wasn't at his best.

Tags: Darrelle Revis
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New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers responds to questions from media during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers responds to questions from media during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Kacy Rodgers never got a chance to play in the NFL before he turned to coaching. But now he might be able to give his son the shot that he never had.

The Jets will be signing Kacy Rodgers II, the son of their current defensive coordinator, according to his agent, David Canter. Rodgers II will join the Jets for their offseason program, at least, after two years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.

Rodgers II is a 6-2, 208-pound defensive back out of the University of Miami. In 2014 he was a tryout player at the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp, but didn't stick. He then signed with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos and spent a year on their practice squad before joining the Roughriders...

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Former Jets C Nick Mangold was thinking about starting his political career, and running in his local GOP primary, according to Politico's Matt Friedman.

However, Mangold said Thursday that he will not be running.

Mangold would've been running to replace the retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represents the 11th District of New Jersey. Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas has spoken with Mangold, and he appears to be serious about running for the position.

Tags: Nick Mangold
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Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) rushes the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Jacksonville won 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) rushes the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Jacksonville won 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

After saying he wouldn't join the Jets for $60 million, Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, a pending free agent, told TMZ exactly what it would take to secure his services.

"A hundred Ms," Bell said, referring to $100 million. "Hey, listen to me: I play running back, but they've got to respect me like I am, man." 

Bell, 25, responded to a fan's tweet last week asking what amount of money it would take for him to join the Jets.

 

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Another year has come and gone without the Jets winning the Super Bowl. Even the Philadelphia Eagles now have ended their forever Super Bowl drought. If you're counting, that's 49 straight Super Bowls that have been played without the Jets.

Can the 50th time be their charm?

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Leonard Williams, Matt Forte, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Kirby Lee)
(Kirby Lee)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Two years ago, the Jets drafted Darron Lee with their first pick, hoping to shore up one of their inside linebacker positions for the foreseeable future. Over the course of his first two seasons, he's been up and down, but he has retained an every-down role.

Last year, he struggled initially, then played the best football of his career in the middle of the season, only to regress down the stretch. However, there are no indications that the Jets intend to move on from Lee.

Tags: Darron Lee, Demario Davis, Jamal Adams
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Jan 27, 2018; Mobile, AL, USA; North Squad quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming (17) throw a pass during the second quarter of the 2018 Senior Bowl against the South Squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports (Glenn Andrews)
Jan 27, 2018; Mobile, AL, USA; North Squad quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming (17) throw a pass during the second quarter of the 2018 Senior Bowl against the South Squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports (Glenn Andrews)

In his latest mock draft, Todd McShay changed his pick for the Jets, and has them taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the sixth overall pick. 

McShay originally had New York taking LSU DE Arden Key. However, he had a change of heart as the Jets desperately need to find their franchise quarterback. But he warns not to forget about free agency, where GM Mike Maccagnan will have about $100 million to go after high-profile QB Kirk Cousins.

"Yes, it's a running theme -- this is another landing spot for Cousins," McShay writes. "If the Jets don't sign him in free agency, Allen makes a lot of sense if Mayfield is off the board. There is a significant drop-off in talent after the first four QBs in this draft, so the Jets need to make sure they grab one here. Allen had an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, showing off his arm and his mobility. There are still concerns about his accuracy and ability to make multidimensional throws consistently, but all the tools are there. And he has the prototypical QB build (6-foot-4 7/8, 237 pounds)."

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