Jets have holes to fill in draft while they wait for Rodgers
The New York Jets head into the NFL draft still anticipating Aaron Rodgers will be their quarterback this season.
When a deal with the Green Bay Packers will finally be completed is anyone's guess. And so is how much it will cost the Jets.
New York currently holds the No. 13 overall selection and back-to-back picks — Nos. 42 and 43 — in the second round to lead off their draft. A trade for Rodgers before or during the draft could result in the Jets parting ways with at least one of those picks.
Rodgers said during an appearance last month on “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and Sirius XM his intention is to play for the Jets this season. Weeks of discussions, negotiations and lots of waiting have followed as the sides continue to work out the parameters of a deal.
During an appearance on WFAN's “Boomer and Gio Live” event earlier this month, New York general manager Joe Douglas fueled optimism for the Jets and their fans when he was asked by Boomer Esiason if Rodgers will, in fact, be coming to the team.
“He’s gonna be here!” Douglas declared.
But the wait continues.
In the meantime, New York has used free agency to bolster their offense, including adding Rodgers' former Packers teammate in wide receiver Allen Lazard and former Chiefs versatile receiver Mecole Hardman in free agency.
The Jets still have plenty more holes to fill on the roster as coach Robert Saleh's squad looks to end a 12-year playoff drought — the longest active skid in the NFL.
“It felt like we got close a year ago,” Saleh said at the league meetings in Phoenix last month. "Obviously, the back half of the year didn’t go the way we wanted to, but we’ve got a really good group and we’re excited about the season.
“And hopefully everything pieces together the way we want it to.”
The Jets appeared on the verge of ending their postseason drought, but a six-game losing streak to end last season put them at 7-10 and in the 13th overall spot in the draft.
New York acquired the No. 43 pick — to join the 42nd selection it already had — when it traded wide receiver Elijah Moore (and the 74th overall pick) to Cleveland last month.
Many of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson's struggles were brought on by his own mistakes and breakdowns in mechanics, but the Jets' injury-ravaged O-line didn't help him much, either.
Mekhi Becton is expected to return after missing all season with a knee injury and 37-year-old left tackle Duane Brown will be back, too. Same for Max Mitchell, whose rookie season was cut short by blood clots. But bringing in an offensive tackle with the No. 13 pick could be the move for Douglas, who'll likely keep tabs on whether Northwestern's Peter Skoronski, Ohio State's Paris Johnson or Georgia's Broderick Jones are still available when New York goes on the clock.
The Jets are strong up front on defense with tackle Quinnen Williams and free agent signing Quinton Jefferson leading the way, but they could use some more depth. Clemson’s Bryan Bresee and Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey could be options if Douglas goes defense in the first round.
New York also needs a center, another playmaking wide receiver and depth at linebacker.
Sauce Gardner, the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and veteran D.J. Reed give the Jets one of the league's top cornerback tandems. They combine with Jordan Whitehead and Chuck Clark, acquired in a trade from Baltimore, to anchor an impressive secondary.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein was re-signed and punter Thomas Morstead was signed, providing some consistent reliability on special teams.
The Jets have drafted 13th overall three times since the merger in 1970 and fared well.
Safety Burgess Owens (1973) had 21 interceptions in seven seasons with New York. Defensive end John Abraham (2000) was one of the best pass rushers in team history with his 53 1/2 sacks in six years ranking him third on the Jets' list. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (2013) was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and had 18 sacks in four seasons before being traded to Seattle.