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How the New York Jets' Quiet Free Agency Approach Affects Their Draft Strategy

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, right, reacts as he and general manager John Idzik speak to the media  during an NFL football news conference Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IMarch 20, 2014

The New York Jets have stunned fans and experts with their inactivity during the free agency period. 

Despite possessing one of the largest cap spaces in the league, the Jets have done little to improve a talented, but heavily-flawed roster. 

Gang Green came into free agency with noticeable holes in the receiving corps, the secondary and the offensive line. 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks tackles wide receiver Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

So far, the only signing to greatly improve those weaknesses was that of Eric Decker.

Decker's a solid receiver who will impact the offense immediately, but the Jets still need to address the rest of the receiving corps.

On the offensive line, the Jets replaced Austin Howard with Breno Giacomini at right tackle (which is a downgrade), and re-signed guard Willie Colon according to the team's site.

Both players are serviceable, but New York will enter next season with major question marks in the trenches. 

The secondary is where general manager John Idzik and company's inactivity has been the most shocking. 

Despite being in major need of a No. 1 cornerback to play opposite of Dee Milliner, the Jets missed out on every single capable cover man in this year's free agency class. And there was a lot of them. 

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Even the team's backup option, previously-cut Antonio Cromartie, is no longer an option after signing with the Arizona Cardinals. 

With minimal talent left on the open market, New York must now turn to the draft as a way to address these major needs. 

Despite being considered a lock to select a skill position player with their first-round pick, the Jets may be forced to select either Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert to fill their gaping hole at cornerback. 

However, New York would be smart to avoid forcing the issue at cornerback, as there are plenty of solid options at the position to be had later on in the draft. 

Solid, young cover men with nice potential, such as Bradley Roby, Marcus Roberson and Stanley Jean-Baptiste will be available in the second or maybe even third round. 

That means Gang Green should stick to the plan that's been in place all offseason. 

The team should add to a reinvigorated receiving corps in the first round by targeting the likes of Marqise Lee, Eric Ebron and Odell Beckham Jr, and then address other concerns from there. 

New York hasn't had the free agency fans or even Rex Ryan may have hoped for, but the team can't allow it to interfere with their long-term plans. 

 

 

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