Joe Douglas and the New York Jets were active in Free Agency early and often, accumulating in six new players and eight returning players. They made a number of splash signings, as well as some nice depth signings to round out the roster. Looking ahead to 2022, the Jets will have a roster that is significantly more talented than the one they employed in 2021. Here is the New York Jets Free Agency Recap.
Tomlinson was a guy that fans were begging for before free agency started, and for good reason. Tomlinson not only played in the same system that the Jets use under Mike LaFleur, the Kyle Shanahan offense, but he did so at a Pro Bowl level in 2021.
According to PFF, Tomlinson finished in the top 10 for both pass blocking and run blocking at left guard last year, and the dual threat ability he possesses landed him in the top five for overall PFF grade among left guards. It is of note that Tomlinson will be moving to right guard, as the front office believes Alijah Vera-Tucker to be the future of the Jets left guard spot.
Uzomah is a player that didn’t get a ton of attention in a crowded Bengals offense, but it was his production, regardless of who was around him, that got him the attention he did get. Even with players like Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins around him, Uzomah still finished with 49 receptions on 63 targets, going for 493 yards and five touchdowns.
Not only does he add a legitimate pass catching threat for Zach Wilson at tight end, but he adds value in the run game too. He isn’t a great run blocker, but he is certainly serviceable. They also got him for relatively cheap, a contract that pays him $8 million per year, less than Evan Engram or David Njoku will get with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, respectively.
Reed is the second player drafted by a team coached by Robert Saleh in some capacity (Tomlinson), and it is another move that makes total sense. The Jets defense is predicated on the front four getting pressure, and the defensive backs hanging in zone. Coincidentally, Reed is really good in Zone coverage! He is no slouch in man, however, and his overall passer rating against in 2021 was 66.0, seventh best in the NFL.
While Reed may not have been the biggest name in this corner back market, he certainly has the potential to be the best value signing, as the Jets once again got a player at a deal they shouldn’t have been able to get. Reed signed for 3 years, $33 million, which places him at $3 million less than the Los Angeles Chargers will be paying J.C. Jackson.
Whitehead is going to be the best player to ever wear number 33 for the Jets. Certainly the best safety to wear the number in the past five years. All jokes aside, Whitehead is actually very good. He somewhat lacks as a pass defender, but he more than makes up for it in his run defense.
What Jamal Adams did for the Jets, Whitehead should be able to replicate almost exactly. Since 2018, when he was drafted in the fifth round by the Bucs, Whitehead is tied for the fifth most tackles for loss amongst safeties.
Martin is another free agent signing in the same mold of Carl Lawson, though admittedly there may not be as much upside. Lawson was coming off a career season with crazy pass rushing statistics, much like Martin is here, but he may not be as shiny on paper.
Martin was a rotational player for the Texans defensive line in 2021, but he finished the season with four sacks and had an above average pressure rate. He figures to slot in as a rotational piece for the Jets, as Lawson and a high end draft pick will likely end up starting on the edges.
The Jets tight end room was bad, emphasis on bad. Imagine having a rookie quarterback, and his tight ends are Ryan Griffin and Daniel Brown. With the Uzomah signing, and now Conklin, the tight end group is completely overhauled. Both are coming off career years, and both should help the Jets a ton.
The Jets offense does use a ton of two tight end packages, at least Mike LaFleur would like to, so having two starter quality tight ends for Zach Wilson is huge for his development. As mentioned before, Conklin is coming off a career year, finishing with 61 receptions on 87 targets, 593 yards, and three touchdowns. The most important stat, however is that on 62 catchable targets, Conklin had one drop in 2021. Nice hands.
Overall, this class gets a B+ grade. Objectively looking at what they did, there were a lot of good moves. They all have the potential to become great moves, but for now, they are good. It certainly looks good from a roster building perspective that they now can go best player available in most spots, given that they filled a lot of their needs already.
Tight end was arguably the biggest hole on the roster, followed by right guard, and both are surely at least league average. What is great about what they did is that they can still add to any of the positions that they already addressed. There are plenty of day three tight ends to look at, a deep offensive line class, and other great directions to go. This has been the New York Jets Free Agency Recap.