The New York Jets made a couple of big moves on defence on Tuesday, though only one of those deals remained in place as the free agency window prepared to officially open.
The team had agreed to sign Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr and move him to an edge rusher role in Gregg Williams’ 3-4 defence, for a rumoured $13 million per season.
Whilst Barr has the physical dimensions to play that role, there was some consternation amongst beat reporters in the Big Apple at how much the team was paying the former UCLA linebacker to take on a role he hasn’t yet played in the NFL. As it turns out, the Vikings made Barr a richer offer to stay in Minnesota, leading to a spurned offer from Gang Green. In hindsight, it may not be the worst development for the Jets given the fact that there are some high calibre defensive linemen and pass rushers available in the first round, such as Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Rashan Gary and Montez Sweat.
The big move that GM Mike Maccagnan made was to sign Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley to a five year $85 million contract.
It’s a bit of a shock that Mosley was able to even reach free agency given his level of production in Charm City. The former Alabama linebacker is an every down player, able to stuff the run, whilst also displaying the athleticism to make plays in the passing game. He’ll team with the team’s 2018 offseason linebacker signing, Avery Williamson, giving the Jets an excellent pair of players in the prime of their careers.
There might be cause for concern about the amount Mosley is being paid, but let’s face it, the Jets need to acquire top tier talent, and have the cap room to splurge here. With tone setter Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye at safety and lineman Leonard Williams, a youthful yet dynamic defensive core is beginning to be established at Florham Park.
On offence, the franchise has added a talented young slot receiver from just down the coast in Washington’s Jamison Crowder.
Head coach Adam Gase has wrung a lot of production out of undersized slot guys such as Jarvis Landry and Albert Wilson in his previous stop in Miami, so it will be interesting to see if Crowder’s already impressive numbers improve further.
His 2018 receiving numbers dipped sharply, largely due to injury and the issues at QB following the severe injury to Alex Smith, though his average yards per reception was higher than in his previous three seasons at FedEx Field. He’s managed to pick up significant yardage from the slot during his years in the league so is a nice addition for QB Sam Darnold who moves into his second year in the league.
In addition to that, Crowder’s deal matches up very nicely for the Jets compared to the other free agent slot receivers. Whilst the former Duke player signed a three year $28.5 million deal in New York, Adam Humphries got a four year $36 million contract from the Titans despite lagging behind Crowder in receiving yards, touchdowns and average yards per reception, during the same amount of time in the league.
The Jets have certainly used free agency to add impact players and upgrade positions. I would have been expecting them to make a bit more of a splash at the skill positions on offence, but Le’Veon Bell and Golden Tate still remain unsigned, so there’s still time.