General manager Joe Douglas doesn't believe in team-building through free agency, which is fine, but he needs to step it up after last year's conservative approach. With a projected $68 million in salary-cap space, the Jets are one of the few teams positioned to spend aggressively. With many ties to the San Francisco 49ers, including coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the Jets' shopping figures to be Frisco-centric.
Here's what to expect from the Jets when the NFL offseason hits high gear with the start of free agency on March 17:
UFA: Joe Flacco
Game plan: The organization's goal is to find a long-term solution. Is it Darnold? A high draft pick? Deshaun Watson? The answer isn't in free agency, although they will need a veteran backup to replace Flacco, an old-school, dropback passer who doesn't fit the new scheme. C.J. Beathard (49ers) could be a low-cost option because he spent the past four years with LaFleur, who is installing a San Francisco-like system that puts a premium on movement skills in the pocket.
UFA: Frank Gore
Game plan: The Jets got burned by a big running-back contract in 2019 (Le'Veon Bell), so you have to believe they won't go down that road again. Many unheralded running backs have thrived in this system, so there's no need for a major investment. The best plan is to draft a potential RB1 to complement Johnson, Perine and Josh Adams (restricted free agent). Speed is very important in the LaFleur's outside zone system. It also requires a fullback, so maybe they try to poach Kyle Juszczyk (49ers). Gore, 37, won't be back and could retire.
UFA: Breshad Perriman
Game plan: Help! Even if they keep Crowder, who has a team-high $11.4 million cap charge, the Jets still need a starter on the outside to pair with Mims. It's hard to envision Douglas spending $20 million per year for a top-of-the-market free agent, but he could go for a middle-range player such as Kendrick Bourne (49ers) or Nelson Agholor (Las Vegas Raiders). Perriman likely won't be back.
Game plan: Any moves made here hinges on whether the new staff believes Herndon is worth salvaging. He regressed under former coach Adam Gase, but he has the all-around talent as a wide receiver and blocker to have a prominent role in LaFleur's offense. Griffin ($3.3 million cap) could be a cap casualty after a sub-par season. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Jets sign an affordable veteran.
Game plan: All five starters are under contract, but there will be changes for 2021. The Jets ranked 29th and 30th in pass- and run-block win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Becton and McGovern are the only locks to return. Lewis ($5.2 million savings if cut), Van Roten ($3.4 million) and Fant ($7.9 million) are on shaky ground. If one or more are cut, they can re-invest the savings in guard Joe Thuney (New England Patriots), who would be a steady rock alongside Becton. They can also sign a center and kick McGovern to guard.
UFA: Trevon Coley
Game plan: Even without Anderson, a possible cap cut that would save $8.2 million, the Jets have solid depth. They will need it, as Saleh is planning to switch to a 4-3 front. The lack of an edge-rushing presence is glaring. There are a few intriguing names in free agency -- i.e. Yannick Ngakoue (Baltimore Ravens) and Carl Lawson (Cincinnati Bengals) -- but the price point will be high. The Jets should be able to address the need in the draft, especially since they have three of the first 34 picks.
Game plan: Between Hewitt, Basham and Jenkins, the Jets are losing nearly 2,400 snaps to free agency. The group needs major work, even with Mosley returning from an opt-out season. They need two off-ball linebackers to start alongside Mosley. Jenkins, the Jets' longest-tenured player, doesn't fit in a 4-3 scheme. Basham, who played well down the stretch, could be a fallback option as the "Leo" role in Saleh's defense -- a OLB/DE hybrid.
Game plan: They have some young talent, but there's no CB1 -- and maybe not a CB2, either. The 49ers have six corners hitting free agency, including Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett and K'Waun Williams. It wouldn't be a shock if one ends up reuniting with Saleh. Poole, 28, is a solid nickel back and could return on a one-year deal.
Game plan: Priority No. 1 is retaining Maye, the Jets' top free agent. The franchise tag (an estimated $11.2 million) is definitely in play if they can't agree to a long-term deal. With a drop in the salary cap, both sides might want to kick the can down the road into 2022. If the coaches don't feel comfortable with Davis in the other spot, they can turn to Keanu Neal (Atlanta Falcons), who played for new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.
Game plan: They desperately need a big-time returner. Too bad Leon Washington, the new assistant special teams coach, isn't a few years younger.