After being among the top spenders the previous two offseasons, the New York Jets have taken a judicious approach to NFL free agency this year. Limited salary cap space is the main reason. And of course, their biggest splash likely will be trading for Aaron Rodgers, not spending on a free agent.
That said, New York has made some solid moves already in free agency. Notably, the Jets signed two wide receivers, Allen Lazard and Mercole Hardman. They also added depth on the offensive line by signing versatile linemen Wes Schweitzer and Trystan Colon. And punter Thomas Morstead was signed to challenge and/or replace Braden Mann.
The Jets have also re-signed several important free agents of their own. Starting linebacker Quincy Williams and kicker Greg Zuerlein were re-upped, as was depth defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.
They acquired safety Chuck Clark in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. And they traded wide receiver Elijah Moore and a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns for a second-round pick this year.
That said, the Jets still have holes to fill on their roster.
Biggest needs Jets must address after first week of NFL free agency
There are two important positions the Jets still need to fill. They need a center. And they need an interior defensive lineman to start next to Quinnen Williams.
While there’s a good chance New York will draft a center in the middle rounds, it’s difficult to envision a rookie starting at that position this season with Rodgers soon to be the quarterback. So, the Jets will look to free agency to fill this void.
Ben Jones of the Tennessee Titans is a logical fit. The 33-year-old has consistently graded out as one of the top centers in the league with the Tennessee Titans. He did have two concussions and missed five games in 2022, so that should give the Jets pause. But he also earned a Pro Bowl selection last season and missed only one game in the previous 10 seasons.
Ben Jones would be a great piece in front of Rodgers pic.twitter.com/ASEjkEAPWM
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) March 19, 2023
At this stage of his career, Jones likely could be signed on a short-term deal, perfect should the Jets also draft their center of the future.
Perhaps more importantly, the Jets need help on the defensive line. Williams is one of the best in the business, and is working on a long-term, big money contract extension with New York. But he needs some help next to him after Sheldon Rankins (Houston Texans) and Nathan Shepherd (New Orleans Saints) departed in free agency.
The Jets have been linked to veteran Calais Campbell. However, he visited the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday, which may not be a good sign for the Jets, who already missed out on Fletcher Cox earlier this offseason.
Matt Ioannidis with the And1 😳 pic.twitter.com/P8ailUDxP5
— Michael Rimmer (@avl_mike) March 18, 2022
An intriguing option is Matt Ioannidis. The 29-year-old is a New Jersey native, who had a 66.4 overall grade with the Carolina Panthers in 2022, per Pro Football Focus. He had some back issues last season and a torn triceps with Washington in 2020. But he’s a solid pass rusher and adequate, if not great, against the run. He had 7.5 sacks in 2018 and 8.5 in 2019, splitting time on the interior and edge. He’s played primarily on the inside since.
Shelby Harris and Poona Ford, who each played for the Seattle Seahawks last season, are also options. Harris is solid veteran, good against the run and pass, who had a 73.2 overall grade, per PFF, in 2022. Ford had three sacks but struggled in the run game.
Williams is a stud and Thomas is an OK backup. But the Jets need to fortify the interior of their defensive line in a big way this offseason.