By Perry Griffith IV
I’m beyond queasy so far on this Jets free agency roller coaster. Let’s run through the timeline. The thrills started before we even stepped foot on the ride with Kelmechi Osemele getting shipped from Oakland with draft picks exchanged as well. Couldn’t ask for a better start to improving the O-line. Jets fans have been on ‘Center Watch’ with eyes on Mitch Morse and Matt Paradis. Assuming Osemele stays healthy, which might be a dangerous assumption after the foot injuries he sustained last year, Jets now have a top-tier left guard.
But obviously, the biggest watch out was ‘Bell Watch.’ My thinking on Bell and the Jets has been: let’s get him, but let’s make sure this O-line is formidable.
Jets kick free agency off with two wide receiver additions: Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy. Crowder stands out to me here as a nice slot receiving addition for Darnold, and they can get creative with him in the backfield too.
In the midst of these signings though, Morse signs with a division rival, Buffalo…. that’s a pretty big bummer. I start thinking at the time that we need to sign Paradis.
Word gets out that Jets want to upgrade from Darron Lee, who I actually thought looked improved much of last year. Still, though, we all knew Jets were looking to blow money out the engine this offseason, so the news isn’t a surprise.
Forget centers, they sign Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr! The Barr signing felt reminiscent of when they brought in Bart Scott, a member of the defense that reached back-to-back AFC Championships. Not a flawless LB with some occasional coverage miscues, but without a doubt an awesome signing. I remember thinking after the signing that Vikings wanting to bring him back as a member of their stacked defense spoke volumes to his value.
It stunningly looks to get even better. Soon after Barr “signs,” rumors start spreading about another Pro Bowl LB still on the table, CJ Mosley from the Ravens. And sure enough, he signs on board. This was a stunning 1-2 punch that no Jet fan saw the team throwing. This defense suddenly felt close to a tier of those recent AFC Championship teams.
An argument could be made that the most impactful signing the Jets have made so far this year is Gregg Williams, the new defensive coordinator. Barr and Mosley are clear influences of Williams being part of the staff now. Jets are driving a Kia in Lee one day, and then suddenly they have two Mercedes SUVs sitting in their driveway instead. Gregg stepped in and told GM Mike Maccagnan the Kia just isn’t gonna cut it going forward.
And in what can only be called a “Same old Jets” moment, one of the Mercedes gets jacked. Of course, it was too good to be true… Vikings sweetened their offer and Barr spurns the Jets to return to Minnesota where he truly wanted to play in the first place. A fantastic signing in Mosley suddenly doesn’t feel so special after this nosedive on the free agency coaster.
Not to mention Jets fans are still drenched in sweat at this point on Bell Watch. Rumors flew all over the place on Bell and no one knew what to believe. For some reason, losing Barr made me discouraged in Jets’ chances with Bell.
Paradis signs with Carolina and the top two centers on the market are now gone. Jets did resign OL Jonotthan Harrison who played seven games at center last season. I guess he’ll be the starter, but with the money, Jets had to spend this free agency, my biggest disappointment so far is Jets not signing a top-tier center in Morse or Paradis.
Oh, and this is practically somehow an afterthought, but Jets lost two of their three Pro Bowlers from last season. Our kicker Jason Myers is off to Seattle and kick returner Andre Roberts signed with Buffalo (who’s had a solid free agency themselves).
But the moment Jets fans were waiting for finally comes in the middle of the night: Bell to the Jets for 4 years, $52.5M. Our “WE GOT HIM” moment. What a deal for the Jets! And what a disappointment probably for Bell’s expectations contract-wise. Not our problem though. I love that Darnold has an excellent backfield partner in crime now.
Does it make Jets Super Bowl contenders? No, it doesn’t, but the team took some nice strides towards getting there. Still, though, some of the free agency misses have left a bad taste in my mouth, leaving this month feeling like a mixed bag. But ultimately, I feel pretty good about the Gregg Williams-led defense (which will likely get an excellent first-round rookie talent added to the squad next month), and a Gase-led offense with Darnold and Bell at the reigns.