Free Agents Jets Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 10, 2021

Free Agents Jets Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The New York Jets were active early in free agency, adding some noteworthy players at key areas of need. They also had an eventful three days at the 2021 NFL draft, selecting a new franchise quarterback (Zach Wilson) and bolstering their roster with plenty of other young talent.

    However, the work isn't done for New York. There are still some holes on its roster that it should address prior to the start of the 2021 season, especially if it wants to bounce back from a 2-14 campaign in 2020. And the Jets still have $25 million of available cap space (per Over the Cap), so they have the ability to make moves.

    With the new season about four months away, some solid players are still available on the free-agent market. While the biggest stars have long been signed to deals, several of these players who remain unsigned could end up being difference-makers in 2021.

    Here's a look at three free agents who the Jets should still consider signing this offseason.

Richard Sherman, CB

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    Sherman has been a name tied to the Jets since early in the offseason. It makes sense since new New York head coach Robert Saleh was his defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers. However, there are also other potential fits for Sherman, who is one of the top cornerbacks still on the market.

    While the 33-year-old is no longer in his prime, he can still be a solid contributor for a defense. And his knowledge of Saleh's defensive scheme could be beneficial, as he could help mentor a young Jets cornerbacks group that will likely be led by Bryce Hall and Bless Austin.

    New York added a pair of cornerbacks in the fifth round of the draft (Duke's Michael Carter II and Pittsburgh's Jason Pinnock) and another in the sixth round (Kentucky's Brandin Echols). However, it's unlikely that all three make an impact in 2021, and it's possible that none of them will. 

    Sherman could provide a much-needed veteran presence in the Jets secondary, likely at an affordable cost. It's been a fit that's made sense all offseason, and it's a move that New York should make to help the development of its young defensive backs.

Brian Hoyer, QB

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    There are no quarterbacks on the Jets roster who can serve as a mentor to Wilson during his rookie season. Neither James Morgan nor Mike White has taken an NFL snap. If Wilson was to get injured or struggle in 2021, New York doesn't have great depth, either.

    That's why the Jets should sign a veteran quarterback to serve as Wilson's backup, and Hoyer could be a great potential fit. The 35-year-old visited with New York prior to the draft last month, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, but nothing has materialized since then.

    Hoyer would not only bring 12 years of NFL experience, he also has knowledge of one of the Jets' top AFC East rivals, as he's spent six seasons with the New England Patriots throughout his career, including the 2020 campaign.

    While Hoyer has played only 10 games over the past three years, he can still be a serviceable backup and may help with Wilson's development.

    If New York isn't interested in Hoyer, another possibility could be to try to trade for Nick Foles, who is currently part of a crowded Chicago Bears quarterback mix that also includes rookie Justin Fields and fellow veteran Andy Dalton. Foles would likely provide better results than Hoyer, if needed, but he would come at a higher cost.

Vic Beasley, DE

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Jets needed to improve their pass rush this offseason, and they've done so with the free-agent signings of defensive ends Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry. But it can't hurt to have more depth on the defensive front, which could also be a key to Saleh's scheme being successful.

    Beasley would be a low-risk signing who could potentially provide the Jets with a high reward. The 28-year-old pass-rusher was an All-Pro selection while with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, when he had 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.

    While Beasley hasn't produced those types of results in recent years (he had no sacks in 10 games between the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders in 2020), he could still be a solid contributor for a defense. In 2019, he had eight sacks in 16 games in his final season in Atlanta, so he isn't too far removed from being a strong player on the edge.

    There are some other intriguing free-agent pass-rushers still available (such as Melvin Ingram III and Justin Houston), but Beasley may not cost as much as some of the others. And at this point, New York just needs some depth who could end up being valuable down the line, which Beasley represents.

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