The New York Jets have been busy signing free agents since the NFL Draft last weekend. But they’re not done filling out their roster just yet.
After the Jets added seven players in the draft, including edge rusher Will McDonald IV in the first round, they signed three free agents this week. Offensive tackle Billy Turner signed Monday, and defensive tackle Al Woods and wide receiver Randall Cobb came aboard Wednesday.
Turner will compete for the starting right tackle job with Mekhi Becton and Max Mitchell in training camp. Barring injury, Becton will likely start on the right side with Duane Brown on the left. That leaves the veteran Turner as the primary backup at the position.
Woods is another valuable veteran addition. The 36-year-old fills a crucial spot on the interior of the defensive line. He’s a run-stuffing lineman who will play an important role after Sheldon Rankins departed in free agency.
Cobb is a favorite of new Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers from their days with the Green Bay Packers. The 32-year-old provides depth in the receiver room and is still a good option from the slot.
New #Jets WR Randall Cobb (@rcobb18) told @eallenjets that he isn’t a 100+ target guy anymore at this stage of his career, but ‘I’ve been very effective in certain situations on 3rd down & in the red zone’: @nyjets #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/FYrAFEPNue
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) May 5, 2023
Through free agency, trades and the draft, the Jets have filled most of the holes on their roster, most notably acquiring Rodgers from the Packers. But they still need a third linebacker to play alongside C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams.
So, let’s examine which free agents the Jets should target after the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kwon Alexander – LB
Alexander appears to be the obvious choice to fill the third linebacker spot because that was his position with the Jets last season. That he has not been re-signed- at least not yet- is strange.
The 29-year-old played roughly 50 percent of the defensive snaps last season and graded well. Pro Football Focus gave him a 73.6 pass rushing grade and 63.6 in run defense.
He’s a fiery leader, one who is popular with his teammates and coaching staff. Jets coach Robert Saleh had him in San Francisco in 2019-20 and loves the veteran.
Kwon Alexander Hit Stick pic.twitter.com/ssOL4uY9ib
— Footballism (@FootbaIIism) September 7, 2022
However, Jets general manager Joe Douglas sounded lukewarm on bringing Alexander back as recently as last week. Perhaps it’s a money thing.
Alexander joined the Jets on a team-friendly deal in training camp last season and could be looking for more cash, or a lengthier deal than New York is interested in.
Still, there’s a good fit here. And it makes the most sense to re-sign Alexander.
Anthony Barr – LB
Rashaan Evans is available but not a fit here. At 27 and coming off a 159-tackle season in 2022, he’s seeking a bigger role and contract than what the Jets would offer.
Perhaps Jaylon Smith could be a fit but likely not unless he becomes desperate for a job closer to training camp.
So, that does not leave the Jets with a lot of options outside of Alexander. One that comes to mind is Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played 63 percent of the defensive snaps with the Dallas Cowboys in 2022.
Injuries have limited his physical abilities. But as a third linebacker who’s not on the field all the time, Barr could be a decent add to the Jets defense.
That said, it still makes the most sense to run it back with Alexander in 2023.
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