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Florham Park, NJ… Look at the action around the New York Jets:

1. Joe Draft: An early breakfast at Joe Douglas’ free agent class: This is a general manager who plans to move away from the 2021 NFL Draft, which he believes is the smartest way to improve his talent list.

He must be right, or the suffering in Gotham will continue.

Although the Jets signed eight players to about $75 million in guarantees, nearly $20 million more than last year, it wasn’t just gas, it was brakes. It certainly wasn’t (Bill) Belichicki either, not with about $25 million in salary cap space left.

Douglas selected defensive end Carl Lawson and receiver Corey Davis early on as the best at their respective positions, but the rest of the class is full of band-aids. Some Jets fans are worried about big-name players disappearing from the scene, while the Jets desperately need cornerback, running back, offensive line, tight end and, of course, quarterback.

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The first five of the offensive line remain intact, the same line that ranked 29th in sack percentage, 31st in pressuring percentage and 29th in pass blocking percentage. They made an attempt to contract coveted guard Joe Tooney, but he signed a record contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. All-Pro center Corey Linsley would have been a nice acquisition that would have allowed them to make Connor McGovern guard, but the Jets showed no interest and he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Your reasoning? The Jets think McGovern is a better center than guard, where he would be isolated from the best interior rushers. They also saw an improvement in his game towards the end of last season. They think the line play will improve in coordinator Mike LaFleur’s zone blocking scheme because it can mask deficiencies.

The offense is far from complete, even with Davis and senior Keelan Cole adding value to the receiving corps. With nine picks, including three in the top 34, Douglas has a chance to change that. He can acquire more equity by trading quarterback Sam Darnold, but he already has enough equity to find a few starters.

The offensive line takes on a different look when you add Oregon tackle Pena Sewell or USC guard Alijah Vera Tucker. The guns get shaken up when Kyle Pitts or Clemson get behind Travis Etienne. This is Douglas’ strategy: Filling in gaps in free agency, building a core group by drafting. More than any of his predecessors, Douglas has remained true to this philosophy.

But what about the ultra-aggressive New England Patriots? Just relax. The Jets haven’t had to spend as much money because they have a resource the Patriots don’t – an abundance of draft capital. And Douglas plans to maximize that. It’s better this way.



Chris Canty says the calls to the Jets for Sam Darnold prove they aren’t fully committed to him as their franchise quarterback.

2. A dollar bill: Don’t tell me the Jets aren’t spending money. The numbers keep changing, but according to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jets, who spent $75 million, are fourth in the league. Belichick’s Patriots have given $156 million in guarantees, the New York Giants are second with $97 million and the Jacksonville Jaguars follow with $82 million.

The Jets laid most of their eggs in two baskets, Lawson and Davis.

3. Cory’s story: An AFC scout told me he thought Davis would easily fit into the Jets offense because it resembles the Tennessee Titans offense. At Tennessee in 2020, he had a 20.9 average with 26 catches for 544 yards. He was effective on intermediate crosses, outside linebackers. The Jets plan to make play-action a big part of their offense. Davis’ status: Over the past three seasons, Titans quarterbacks have thrown an interception at him.

4. As an aside: I watched Lawson’s film and was impressed with his explosion on the field. He has closing speed, and the Jets haven’t had a player like that in a long time. You wonder why he only had 5.5 sacks last season, including two sacks with coverage and two against 39-year-old Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. In one game, he embarrassed Peters by hitting him with a spin move that caused him to tip over.

Lawson played from right to left for the Cincinnati Bengals, at times almost technically wide9, making him an ideal candidate for coach Robert Saleh’s defense. I wouldn’t call him a strong runner, but that’s not why he got the $30 million guarantee. He gets paid to make an impact as a quarterback. He needs to become a double-digit striker to justify his huge contract. Talent evaluators appreciate his advantage.

We’re big fans of the @carllawson55 atmosphere

– New York Jets (@nyjets) 20. March 2021

5. A lot of money: Let’s look at Lawson’s contract. According to Insurance, he ranks fifth in franchise history behind C.J. Mosley ($43 million), Darrell Revis ($39 million), Muhammad Wilkerson ($37 million) and Truman Johnson ($34 million). To be fair, the last three didn’t work out, each had a five year contract but only lasted two years.

6. What a blow: This may seem surprising, since they already have Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin. (Or maybe it wouldn’t be a surprise because. Well, it’s Ficken and McLaughlin). But the Jets quietly looked for open shooters. There’s not much left on the market.

7. The market around the corner: The Jets are hoping to find a cornerback of rookie caliber. The biggest name is Richard Sherman, but I’d be surprised if that happened. Again, the Douglas will use the project to find long-term solutions. They were also interested in safety/linebacker Keanu Neal, but he chose the Dallas Cowboys.

8. Average men: The addition of linebacker Jarrad Davis has fueled speculation about Mosley, whose place on the roster seems uncertain. Yes, the Jets are open to trading him, the source said, but it will be difficult because he owes $14 million in guarantees for the next two seasons.

The Jets think Davis could do well as a middle linebacker in their 4-3 scheme, which emphasizes lateral movement as opposed to a downhill 3-4 scheme. It was his speed that attracted the Jets’ coaches. (He’s faster than Mosley but slower than Neville Hewitt, according to tracking data). They also think he’s flexible at the position and can move up to one of the outside positions, but that could prove difficult. Statistically, he’s a bad lighting designer. Over the past two years, he has made 366 snaps in coverage, while allowing 39 completions and two touchdowns on 50 targets, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

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Mosley’s cap hit is a reasonable $7.5 million, but that means $13 million for two players at the same position.

9. High praise for Hardy: The arrival of Justin Hardy didn’t make headlines, but he will improve special teams, according to former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff. He coached the New Orleans unit in 2017 and 2018, Hardy’s first two seasons. He said Hardy was so good as a kicker in 2018 that he could have gone to the Pro Bowl.

Westhoff recalled Hardy’s tenacity during practice as a cornerback on the scout team, where he battled star receiver Michael Thomas every day.

It was something to see, they were fighting, Westhoff said with a laugh. I think he has made Michael Thomas a better footballer.

Hardy had an infamous moment during his four years in the Big Easy; he was the victim of a fake punt by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. As a shooter, Hardy gave up a pad and fell back too quickly to Sam Shields, leaving him open to pass-rusher Johnny Hecker. Westhoff took the blame, saying he had asked Hardy to play with the wrong technique.

Westhoff said it was a good move for the Jets.

10. The last word: I saw something on YouTube about Coach Saleh. I heard about him in the league and saw him take the job here. I watched a few of his interviews and realized how impressive he is, the message he proclaims. Even in the video, I thought he was talking to me. It was in the back of my mind. That’s actually where it started. — Lawson on his decision to pick the Jets.

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