The New York Jets have been finding some good players in the draft in recent years. But the problem with building through the draft is sometimes you choose the wrong guys. When this happens, a team is left with roster holes that they need to fill in order to field the best roster possible.
That is where the free agency comes in.
As long as a team is willing to pay, there are talented players to be had. The last two years have seen the New York Jets diving headfirst into the free agency market and spending more than anyone.
During free agency in 2018, the Jets agreed to contracts with 24 players valued at $193.8 million. This year they agreed to contracts with 18 players valued at $216.3 million.
On paper, it looks like spending what they did was a great idea since they were able to pick up so many talented players. C.J. Mosley should give the defense a real boost. Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy will give Sam Darnold two more quality players to target.
But, of course, the real prize is running back Le'Veon Bell. If he can get back to where he was the last time he played, the Jets are going to have an incredible running game this season. This will, in turn, make life a lot easier for quarterback Sam Darnold, and hopefully, encourage further progress in his game.
There are a lot of signs pointing up for the Jets, which makes it hard not to wonder if they are a team worth betting on. Betway.com has odds on the Jets to do various things this season (odds as of July 9):
- Win the Super Bowl: +8000
- Win the AFC: +4000
- Win the AFC East: +700
- Make the playoffs: +275
- Miss the playoffs: -400
- Win total: over/under 7.5
When you haven't made the playoffs since 2010, have only a single winning season since then, and have lost double-digit games the last three years, yeah—expectations are going to be low. But if you listen to new linebacker C.J. Mosley, teams would be wise not to sleep on the Jets this coming season:
"Now that we've got a new little mix-up, got some new people around and some new faces, we're all eager, and we’re all ready," he said during the offseason, via NewYorkJets.com. "We know the whole NFL is sleeping on the Jets, so we're ready to prove them wrong."
Considering the Jets recent track record, it is not hard to understand why oddsmakers and fans are doing so. But, at the same time, it is not hard to understand why Mosley fills the way that he does. The Jets have a lot of promising young talent on the team and added some great pieces in free agency. On paper, they should be a vastly improved team.
So, why the skepticism?
The biggest reason is likely because oddsmakers want to see the Jets actually start winning games since it has been so long. That and building through free agency rarely works. More often than not, the team that spends the most in free agency does not make the playoffs.
The Jets failed to do so last year, of course, or in 2015. Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship game in 2017 but was unable to make the playoffs in 2016. Tampa Bay won just two games after being big spenders in 2014, but they fared better back in 2012 (seven wins).
The Dolphins finished just 8-8 after spending a fortune in 2013. It didn't help the Carolina Panthers much back in 2011, either.
History has not been good for free agency big spenders, so why should fans believe it will be any different for the Jets? Well—because of free agency.
Darnold showed some real promise last season, but the Jets needed him to do more than he was ready for as a rookie. It didn’t help that he didn't have great receivers and had virtually no running game to take the pressure off him.
This season, he is going to have one of the best running backs in recent history in the backfield with him. He will have two additional good receivers to work with. The Jets rebuilt the offensive line which will hopefully mean Darnold will have better protection and Bell will have holes to run through.
They are going to be better on offense and defense next season. They will not do as well as the Jaguars did following their expensive offseason in 2017. But don’t be shocked if the Jets cover the over on their win total.
If nine wins can get them into the playoffs, they just might see the postseason this year.