Time is running out for the New York Jets hierarchy of general manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh. So, every decision they make ahead of next season is crucial. To that end, we’ll examine the best players the Jets must re-sign in 2024 NFL free agency.

Douglas is a woeful 27-56 since becoming Jets GM in 2019. Saleh is 18-33 in three seasons as head coach, including consecutive 7-10 seasons when the Jets were in playoff contention, only to fall apart and come up short down the stretch.

The Jets have missed the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons. That was supposed to end in 2023, but even a stout defense couldn’t prop the Jets up enough after quarterback Aaron Rodgers sustained a ruptured Achilles four plays into the first game. Instead, it was an ugly season for the Jets, behind the scenes and on the field, as has been recently reported.

To avoid another disaster, the Jets need to make very smart decisions this offseason. That begins with whom to re-sign and which players to let go from last season’s roster.

Best players Jets must re-sign in 2024 NFL free agency

Bryce Huff

The biggest and most difficult decision the Jets face with their own free agents is how much they’re willing to invest to bring Bryce Huff back. And make no mistake, they should do everything they can to keep Huff.

The 25-year-old edge rusher led the Jets with an NFL career-high 10 sacks in 2023 and had an outrageous 67 pressures on 334 pass rush snaps, per Pro Football Focus. But he played only 42 percent of their defensive snaps because the Jets do not trust him against the run. That’s the rub, trying to decide on how to value a specialty player, although one who’s proven to be elite at what he does.

Pass rushers get paid in the NFL. And Huff already said that he won’t give the Jets a hometown discount. The Jets also have a pair of first-round picks to play on the edge (Jermaine Johnson, 2022; Will McDonald IV, 2023), so that factors into the equation, too.

The Jets should re-sign Huff, but likely will be outbid during free agency.

Greg Zuerlein and Thomas Morstead

It makes sense to pair these two veteran kickers together, because the Jets absolutely should re-sign each. How neither made the Pro Bowl nor was selected All-Pro in 2023 is stunning.

Greg Zuerlein just may be the best free agent signing in the Douglas era. The 36-year-old kicker made 92.1 percent (35 of 38) of his field-goal attempts this season after a strong Jets debut in 2022. For two straight seasons, he’s often been the Jets best and most consistent offensive player.

Thomas Morstead punted a whopping 99 times this season thanks to the pitiful Jets offense. But the 37-year-old never wavered, consistently keeping the Jets in games by masterfully pinning opponents deep in their own territory. He averaged 48.8 yards per punt and dropped 36.4 percent of his punts inside the 20. Most importantly here, he wants to re-sign and remain in New York.

Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson

It also makes sense for the Jets to bring back these veteran defensive linemen.

Solomon Thomas is a Saleh disciple from their days with the San Francisco 49ers. Not to mention, he’s a solid and affordable fit in New York’s defensive line rotation, coming off a five-sack season.

Quinton Jefferson was another excellent free agent signing by Douglas. Before sustaining a groin injury in Week 15, Jefferson had six sacks and 34 tackles as a starter on the D-Line. He should be brought back on a short-term, affordable deal.

Ashtyn Davis

Talk about changing the narrative. Ashtyn Davis looked like he could be cut before the 2023 season started. A special teams ace with limited impact as a backup safety, Davis flipped the script in 2023.

The 27-year-old remained a demon on special teams, but stood out as a ballhawk when he received increased playing time on defense this season. In only 218 defensive snaps, Davis had three interceptions, eight passes defended and three fumble recoveries.

That kind of production should convince the Jets to re-sign Davis.

Special teams captain Justin Hardee can be included here, too. The respected veteran should be brought back unless his asking price is prohibitive, which it shouldn’t be.

Mekhi Becton among players Jets should not re-sign in 2024 NFL free agency

There are several players the Jets should not re-sign for 2024. Most notable on that list are offensive tackles Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown, and edge rusher Carl Lawson.

Becton was finally healthy in 2023. But he was also terrible, looking slow and ill-equipped to play left tackle in the NFL. Brown was injured most of the season and appears headed to retirement. The Jets must get better play from the tackle position in 2024.

Lawson is a no-brainer to let go. He was a healthy and expensive scratch pretty much all season.

Safety Jordan Whitehead had three picks in Week 1 but should only be re-signed if it’s an affordable contract. If center Connor McGovern is willing to be a depth player behind Joe Tippmann, he’d be worthy to re-sign. But not at a starter’s salary.