The fact that the New York Jets still have a lot to do before they can think about competing seriously in the NFL was already obvious, and nothing we saw in 2021 changed that reality.
Despite four wins and some optimism for the future, the team's roster has some big weaknesses heading into the 2022 offseason. Joe Douglas filled a few voids in free agency and the draft last summer, but he and the Jets still have a lot of work ahead of them. Fortunately, they have nine picks in the 2022 draft and $48 million in salary cap to play with, making it a bit simpler to repair the franchise.
With the upcoming changes to betting regulations in New York, we can expect to see a big increase in wagers placed on NY football teams in 2022, and a Jets resurgence would be a welcome bonus for their long-suffering fans. With that in mind, here are some of the key priority areas that the Jets will be looking at, going into the 2022 draft.
Corey Davis and Elijah Moore aren't legitimate No. 1 receivers, while Denzel Mims is undecided about remaining in New York, and the four remaining wide receivers that were on the roster are all approaching free agency.
The Jets badly need a top-value pass-catcher who can give opposing teams something different to think about. Although there aren't many real top threats in the draft, this is a big priority for the Jets, and if they don't address it in the draft, we should expect them to take steps to bring in an accomplished receiver.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was an excellent improvement over Greg Van Roten at right guard, but he's a free agent who might depart the team soon. This creates a significant void on the offensive line. Fortunately there are some options in the draft, so the Jets should prioritize finding someone to help protect Zach Wilson.
This season, tight end was possibly the Jets' most overlooked position. Ryan Griffin, Tyler Kroft, Daniel Brown, and Kenny Yeboah were just not good enough. To truly unleash the potential of Mike LaFleur's playbook, the Jets need a terrific pass-catching tight end who can also block effectively.
Bryce Hall seems to be a capable outside cornerback, but Brandin Echols' long-term viability as a starter is unknown. The Jets would likely benefit from adding a genuine lockdown cornerback to complement Hall, and with four selections in the first two rounds, they should have an excellent chance to do so early in this year’s draft.
The Jets' offensive-line depth is an under-appreciated area that the franchise needs to work on. This season, the offensive line experienced serious injuries, and apart from Morgan Moses, the team lacked quality alternatives to fill starting spots. Strengthening the team's offensive-line depth may not be a priority, but the Jets can no longer afford to play with below-average blocks if they want to compete.
Eddy Pieiro might be the solution to the Jets' recent kicking problems. This season, he was 8-8 on field goals and 9-10 on extra points. But he'll be a free agent soon, and the Jets aren't known for signing kickers to long-term contracts. If the Jets don't retain Pieiro, they must choose wisely, and it would be good to see them invest in a more long-term option for this position.
The greatest question mark coming into the offseason might be the safety position. Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner, both coming off serious injuries, will be unrestricted free agents, while Elijah Riley will be an exclusive-rights free agent.
In his second season, Ashtyn Davis didn't show much development, while 2021 fifth-round selection Jason Pinnock has only been playing safety for a few months. This offseason we shouldn't be surprised if we see the Jets opting for a wholesale revamp of the position, starting in the draft.
Bryce Huff, John Franklin-Myers, and Carl Lawson (pending his return from injury) are three strong pass-rush possibilities for the Jets, but they could always add more to a defense that struggled to get after the quarterback in 2021.
This year's draft has a slew of exciting talents, and there are a few notable names in free agency. Much may hinge on how much the Jets are prepared to invest in this area, but some big moves in the draft are to be expected.