The New York Jets enter the 2024 offseason with 24 players set to hit the open market. GM Joe Douglas and company have a lot of work that needs to be done through free agency, trades, and the draft. With the start of NFL free agency just under two months away, let’s look at six impending free agents the Jets should keep in Florham Park.
Six Jets Free Agents That Should Get Re-Signed
This is by far Joe Douglas’ biggest priority free agent that he needs to keep in the green and white. Bryce Huff who was a UDFA out of Memphis in 2020, has spent his entire four-year career in “The Big Apple.” In his previous first three seasons with the Jets, Huff showed flashes, but this year he put it all together.
Huff set a new career high in sacks with 10, smashing his previous career high of 3.5 in 2022. Huff not only set a career-high in sacks and led the team he also became the first Jets edge rusher in a decade to eclipse double-digit sacks. On top of this, Huff tallied a 22.8% pass rush win rate which ranked third among all edge rushers.
Despite all of these numbers and watching his play on the field, it seems the chances Huff is retained are lower than many expect. GM Joe Douglas has shown a lot of faith in Will McDonald who is entering his second season in 2024. Douglas feels that if McDonald can make a Jermaine Johnson-like year-two leap he will fill the shoes of Huff. Even with this possibility the Jets can’t bank on the unknown of McDonald, especially entering a win-now year in 2024.
After signing a one-year contract with the Jets last offseason Quinton Jefferson quickly became one of the most underrated players on the team. Jefferson was brought in as a veteran interior defensive lineman who could get to the quarterback, and he did just that. Unfortunately for Jefferson, his season was cut short after hit suffered a hip injury in Week 15 against the Miami Dolphins.
Despite this season-ending injury for Jefferson he still had one of his best seasons since entering the league in 2016. Jefferson in 14 games tallied six sacks which set a new career high and added 34 total tackles which ranked second among Jets defensive linemen.
Overall, Jefferson had a very productive 2023 campaign and still left some meat on the bone due to the hip injury. In 2023, Jefferson’s contract was one year worth 3.6 million. If the Jets can get Jefferson back at a relatively low cost they should not hesitate.
Ashtyn Davis was a very pleasant surprise for Jets fans this season. The former 2020 third-round pick had trouble finding his rhythm early on in his career, but this season that changed. Davis entered the season with questions surrounding his role and future but quickly found answers to those questions.
Davis this season displayed an impressive knack for getting the football. Davis ended with a career-high in fumble recoveries (three) and interceptions (three) on the season. Along with this, Davis set a new career high in passes defended with eight.
This year Davis proved his wealth as a solid depth safety and borderline starter. The Jets only have three players including Davis remaining from that 2020 draft class. The other two are Mekhi Becton and Bryce Hall. There is a good chance Becton and Hall don’t return so look for Douglas to try and retain Davis as the lone 2020 draftee left.
Special Teams Trio: Greg Zuerlein, Thomas Morstead, Justin Hardee
In a season full of disappointment and frustration one thing that didn’t disappoint was the Jets’ special teams. Throughout the entire season, New York’s special teams remained one of the strengths of the team and one of the most consistent units in the league. Entering the 2024 offseason the core pieces of this unit, Greg Zuerlein, Thomas Morstead, and Justin Hardee are all set to hit the open market.
Zuerlein’s 2023 season implemented himself into Jets franchise history. His 35 field goals and 92.1 field goal percentage were both franchise records. Along with this, Morstead put on a punting clinic finishing second in the league in punts inside the 20 with 36, and setting new career highs in punt yardage. Morstead has proven age is just a number. Another key member is Justin Hardee, who has performed well on the field as a gunner and one of the team’s biggest vocal leaders being selected team captain in all of his three seasons with New York.
In prior seasons the Jets had issues on special teams and couldn’t find answers, this season that finally changed. Joe Douglas must keep these three players in New York and continue the continuity that has been built on special teams.
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