It has been nine months since the Jets hired Joe Douglas as their general manager, but he's yet to have a chance to really leave his mark on the team.
On Monday, that will finally begin to change.
Armed with possibly as much as $70 million in salary cap space, not to mention the 11th overall pick in the draft, the 44-year-old Douglas is about to become the latest executive to try to reverse the Jets' long legacy of losing. He's inherited a franchise that has missed the playoffs for nine straight seasons, with only one winning record in all those years. Yes, his team finished strong, winning six of its last eight games to salvage a 7-9 record out of a lost season.
But there's no doubt Douglas has plenty of holes on the roster to fill.
Just how is he going to do it? His plan will start to come into focus on Monday, when the free-agent negotiating window officially opens. For now, Jets fans can only dream that the best-case scenarios will work out.
So with that in mind, and given what they have to work with, here's one take on what a dream offseason could look like for the Jets:
Sign free agent RT Jack Conklin
The offensive line is clearly going to be Douglas' priority this offseason, and all signs point to him drafting the Jets' left tackle of the future with the 11th pick. So why not add in the best right tackle on the market, too?
This might be a bit of a dream, because a source believes the Jets will fall short of the $19 million per year it will probably take, and the 6-6, 308-pounder will have enough suitors to get it. But this kind of a splash would certainly signal that Douglas is taking the protection of QB Sam Darnold seriously. And solidifying both tackle spots this offseason would be huge.
Sign free agent G Joe Thuney
Unfortunately for the Jets, their line really is barren so they need interior help, too. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound Thuney might be the best interior offensive lineman available after four years of starting in New England. But again, the price will be high - perhaps $14 million per season.
Why spend so much on the offensive line with so many other needs on this team? Because an offense simply can't operate if the quarterback isn't protected. And the Jets' line was not only a mess, but there really aren't a bunch of young lineman on the roster ready to step in. If they come out of this offseason with two starting tackles and one starting guard they'll be in pretty good shape for the next few years.
Sign free agent CB Chris Harris, and re-sign CB Brian Poole
The more anyone looks at it, the more it's obvious that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was a miracle-worker with the Jets' defense - and particularly the secondary - last year. Their corners, outside of Brian Poole, were just not good, and Douglas knows he has to fix that.
He's going to take a swing at the top two on the market - Byron Jones and James Bradberry - but it's hard to argue they're really worth the prices they're going to get (possibly $18 million per year for Jones and more than $15 million per year for Bradberry). What the Jets really need is to add some young corners and to have a solid veteran to lead them.
Enter Harris, a 30-year-old, nine-year veteran who not only would be an ideal transition guy, but can still play well, and likely will cost a little less - maybe in the $11-12 million per season range. Poole, meanwhile, was the Jets' best corner last year. The Jets had him on a one-year, $3 million last year. Maybe something as reasonable as two years, $10 million might bring him back again.
Re-sign WR Robby Anderson to a short-term, reasonable deal
The real dream scenario here is landing Amari Cooper, the only true No. 1 receiver on the market. The problem with that is it remains unlikely he's going to hit the market. The Dallas Cowboys seem intent on either tagging him or re-signing him. But if he suddenly becomes available, the Jets should dive in.
Meanwhile, more realistically, they should keep in touch with Anderson, and try to bring him back at the price they want - somewhere around $10 million per year. Anderson wants No. 1 receiver money -- $13 million per year, or maybe more. But there are a lot of NFL people that think the receiver market will be depressed because of all the top receivers available in this draft.
If that happens, the Jets should try to convince the 26-year-old Anderson to do a short-term deal - two years, $20 million, with maybe an out after one - that brings him back and gives him another shot at free agency before he turns 30. That might be the best result for everyone. At the moment, though, he believes he'll do a lot better than that.
Re-sign LB Jordan Jenkins
The Jets most likely are not going to be serious players for the few top pass rushers on the market, and they probably won't take one with the 11th pick in the draft. But they still need one. Even though Gregg Williams was able to generate a pass rush without one last season, they still need some speed coming off that edge.
Right now, Jenkins is the best they've got. He had eight sacks last season, 15 in the last two, and is a pretty disruptive player. Few think of him as an elite pass-rusher, so he's not going to get the serious money on the market. The Jets could pay him decent money over the short-term, though. Maybe four years, $35 million, or maybe a one-year, prove-it contract.
Without him, it's not clear where the Jets pass rush would come from in 2020, so they need to find some way to bring him back at a reasonable cost.
Draft Alabama T Jedrick Wills or Georgia T Andrew Thomas at No. 11
As SNY has reported, many around the NFL believe it would be a "shock" if Douglas doesn't select an offensive lineman in the first round. His biggest problem is a lot of them could be gone by the time the 11th pick comes around. It's early, but it's hard to imagine Louisville's Mekhi Becton or Iowa's Tristan Wirfs slip this far. And a third could be gone, too.
So the Jets need at least one of the top four to still be available -- either Wills (a 6-foot-4, 312-pounder from Alabama) or Thomas (a 6-foot-5, 315-pounder from Georgia) -- and they need to take him. If they're both gone, they'll be in the position of either taking the fifth-best offensive tackle with the 11th overall pick - not really a smart move - or taking a receiver.
And while, say, Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy would excite fans, there are other ways to find receivers. The line - young linemen, in particular - is a much bigger need.
Draft Clemson WR Tee Higgins in the second round
This is a really, really deep draft for receivers, with some scouts saying there could be 25 or more taken in the first three rounds. That's a really good argument for not taking one with the 11th overall pick.
Assuming they don't, they really need to take one when they pick 48th. Right now the Jets really only have Jamison Crowder as a reliable receiver for Darnold. Anderson, as noted, is a free agent and his return is uncertain. So is Demaryius Thomas. And no one seems certain whether Quincy Enunwa will play again after multiple neck injuries.
Even if one or two of them return, the Jets need a young receiver - and preferably one with some size. And while it's really early to start projecting who'll be available in the second round - especially with a receiver board that tends to be volatile - it would be huge (literally) if Higgins slipped to the Jets. He's 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, which gives Darnold what every young quarterback needs - a big target, especially in the red zone.
And while he had been projected as a late first rounder, the second round seems more likely after he didn't workout at the Combine and had a disappointing Pro Day, where he ran a 4.55 in the 40. Scouts loved him before that and thought he was on the fringe of the top part of the class. But bad numbers tend to weigh receivers down in the draft more than any other position.
That could really help the Jets if they're not scared off.
Don't re-sign S Jamal Adams yet, but make him understand why
The Jets want to make Adams a "Jet for life" and they would be right to do it. But not now. Yes, he's probably underpaid, but the Jets have him at a cap hit of only $7 million, so they should take advantage of that while they can. For a team with so many holes to fill, there's no need to spend cap space on a player already under their control.
They just need to sell that to the emotional Adams. Make him believe, accurately, that he's in their future plans, that they'll address his contract either during the season or next offseason. Let him know that while they can wield the franchise tag in 2021, that can also just be a placeholder until they get a new contract done.
And let him know it's for the good of the team - so they can build a better team around him, which surely is important to him, too.