They may have finished last in the AFC East this past season, but the New York Jets could be a big player in free agency in 2018.
Typically when an NFL team finishes 5-11 and last in their division, that’s not any cause for celebration. However, there were plenty of folks around the NFL who thought the Jets may not win more than one or two games this past year. Five wins represented a moderate success for the Jets and they enter the offseason with over $70 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.
New York could have a quick turnaround if they have a good draft and find the right fits in free agency. They have a multitude of different directions they could go, but one of the biggest factors is how their new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates wants to run the offense. The Jets somewhat surprisingly fired John Morton but decided to promote Bates from the quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. The overall ranks don’t look great but it’s important to remember that Morton had journeyman Josh McCown at quarterback and no reliable wide receiver outside of Robby Anderson, depending on his recent arrest.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets could use help seeing as their only two major standouts are defensive lineman Leonard Williams and safety Jamal Adams. It’s hard to decipher which is more pressing of a need in free agency since both sides of the ball need some talent injection. This list is just potential targets because even though the Jets have a ton of space, they won’t be able to sign everyone on the list. It’s meant to highlight the areas of need and the holes that New York can’t fill now, they can attack in the NFL Draft.
5. Kyle Fuller, Cornerback
The Jets have a starting cornerback pairing of Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne and could use a shot in the arm in the secondary. Kyle Fuller would fit the bill in a major way for the Jets. Fuller is coming off one of, if not the best season of his young career. He’s played four seasons and with the exception of missing his entire third season due to a knee injury, has played in every other game. Fuller is also only 26 and could be around for the long haul for a Jets team that could still be a season away from being truly competitive.
Pro Football Focus gave Fuller an 84.3 grade which placed him in the above average category. Despite only having two interceptions, Fuller defended 22 passes and finally started to fulfill some of his first round draft pick pedigree. He could be entering the prime of his career and it’s a great sign that he seemed to turn the corner in his third season on the field.
Learning to be a cornerback in the NFL isn’t easy and mistakes are magnified when opposing receivers are scoring touchdowns. The Jets were in the top 10 in the league in sacks which leads to Fuller being a great fit on the back end to help make that pass rush even more effective. The longer coverage can hold up, the better chance the pass rush gets the sack.