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With the start of the new league year just around the corner, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has said the Jets - with approximately $100 million of cap room - will be "very active in free agency." Let's review some of the top free agents who could be targets.
Edge Rusher: Dante Fowler, Los Angeles Rams
The Jets have coveted a difference-making pass rusher for some time, although they might be tempted to wait for the draft. With several players having been tagged, the market has thinned out a bit, but Fowler is one of a few available players the Jets have been linked to.
Fowler is a great athlete and should still get a big-money deal because of his upside, but his production has been disappointing for a top-three pick. He has also had some injuries and off-field issues in his past, so the Jets should perhaps target someone who has shown they can be a more consistent contributor.
Possible alternative: Preston Smith, Washington
Offensive Tackle: Trent Brown, New England
Brown was a low-cost addition for the Patriots last year and started every game at left tackle for the injured Isaiah Wynn on his way to a Super Bowl ring. He's now certain to get a big payday, but it's telling that the Patriots are happy to let him walk. Blocking for quarterbacks like Tom Brady, who has excellent pocket awareness and gets the ball out quickly, can make a lineman look better than he actually is.
Some experts have speculated that the Jets could be interested in Brown due to their weak offensive line, but indications are they are happy with their tackles for the time being. It's probably just as well, because Brown could struggle in a less lineman-friendly system.
Possible alternative: Stay pat
Center: Matt Paradis, Denver
The Jets needed a center in the last free agent cycle and opted to sign the second-best on the market in Spencer Long. The top center on the market, Ryan Jensen, got a much bigger deal and had an underwhelming year. However, Long also struggled through an injury-plagued season and was let go, and he's since signed with Buffalo.
This year, the Jets should go all out for the top center on the market and Paradis fits the bill, in addition to having a connection to Adam Gase, his former offensive coordinator. While there's some risk attached because Paradis is coming off a leg injury, you should expect the Jets to make a push for the veteran.
Possible alternative: Mitch Morse, Kansas City
Running Back: Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh
As has been discussed all offseason, the Jets are widely expected to target Bell once free agency gets underway. It will be expensive, but Bell is more than just a running back, as he can also bolster the passing game with his pass-catching and blocking abilities. Every other back on the market arguably isn't enough of an upgrade over the reasonably priced Isaiah Crowell to warrant signing.
Possible alternative: Tevin Coleman, Atlanta
Linebacker: Anthony Barr, Minnesota
A report from The Athletic's Connor Hughes indicates the Jets are interested in Barr, a former top-10 pick and productive starter for the past five years. Barr is a versatile defender whose ability to rush, cover and play the run should fit right in with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' desire to run a defense that uses multiple formations and personnel groupings.
Barr had 7.5 sacks in his first two seasons but has only managed six in his last three, so he's not the kind of player that will overhaul the pass rush. However, it would be interesting to see how Williams would use him and he should produce an upgrade on the strongside.
Possible alternative: CJ Mosley, Baltimore
Cornerback: Bryce Callahan, Chicago
With Buster Skrine expected to be replaced, the Jets need reinforcements in the slot and Callahan has established himself as one of the top slot corners in the league. He showed off his value against the Jets last season by breaking up three passes and would represent an upgrade at a key area of need as he is about to reach his prime.
Possible alternative: Ronald Darby, Philadelphia
Wide Receiver: Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay
On offense, Humphries could also provide reinforcements from the slot. He's been a productive possession receiver over the past three seasons, although the size of the deal he's about to get in free agency is likely to be an eye-popping number for a player who has never had a 1,000-yard season and only averages a couple of touchdowns per season. In fact, he's only had two 100-yard games in his career, so the Jets might be wise to seek some better value further down the list.
Possible alternative: Jamison Crowder, Washington