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Jets general manager Joe Douglas speaking at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

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The New York Jets are set for the beginning of a meaningful offseason. 

They have several major needs to address and an urgency to improve now: if they miss the playoffs in 2020 it will tie the longest playoff drought in franchise history. 

The rest of the sports world is shut down, but NFL free agency is going on as scheduled.

The legal tampering period began Monday, allowing teams to talk to agents of potential free agents. And on Wednesday, at 4 p.m. the new league year started, allowing players to sign with their new teams. 

Free agency will be very busy for the Jets, who are projected to have $46.96 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com. Here’s everything you need to know about what the Jets and GM Joe Douglas are doing during free agency.

Contracts agreed to 

Here’s the list of contracts the Jets have committed to. Nothing can become official until the new league year starts on Wednesday. 

CB Pierre Desir: One year, terms unknown. 

OL Greg Van Roten: Three-years, terms unknown

DB Marqui Christian: One year, up to $2 million 

OL Josh Andrews: Terms not reported.

LB Neville Hewitt: Re-signed at one year, $2 million

CB Arthur Maulet:Re-signed on a one-year contract

CB Brian Poole:Re-signed at one year, $5 million 

C Connor McGovern: Three years, $27 million ($18 million guaranteed)

G Alex Lewis: Re-signed at three-years, $18.6 million ($6 million guaranteed)

OT George Fant: Three years, $30 million ($13.7 million guaranteed)

CAP SPACE: This is just an estimate because we don’t know the exact cap hits for each season yet, but it’s likely the Jets have somewhere around $18 million in cap space remaining after releasing Darryl Roberts and committing to sign Christan. They could free up more cap space with cuts.

The latest analysis

SUNDAY, MARCH 22

► Jets add CB, lose piece to rival, 4 p.m.: Douglas added some much-needed depth at cornerback Sunday, signing Pierre Desir to a one-year deal. The former Colts corner is likely to be a starter for the Jets, who don’t have a proven starting cornerback on their roster. Desir showed immense potential last season, with three interceptions and 11 passes defended in 12 games. But he struggled with injury, missing a month in the middle of the season with a hamstring injury. 

The 29-year-old Desir has been a starter the last two seasons for the Colts and will surely fill that role for the Jets, who during the first week of free agency cut both of their 2019 Week 1 starters: Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts. 

The Jets still have more work to do, though. Signing another cornerback isn’t out of the question and they will likely have to pursue one in next month’s NFL Draft. 

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Brandon Copeland, who spent the last two seasons with the Jets, is signing with the Patriots. If the Jets don’t re-sign Jordan Jenkins, and they’re not expected to, they will need to add outside linebacker depth this offseason as well.

SATURDAY, MARCH 21

► More o-line help: Douglas wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to rebuild the offensive line. The Jets agreed to sign Greg Van Roten on Saturday night, their fifth offensive line signing since free agency began. Van Roten, like the rest of these additions, isn’t a star. But he’s versatile and experienced. And with all the moves the Jets have made, it’s starting to look as if their offensive line could be much better next year. Here’s why.  

► Shuffling on the secondary, 3:35 p.m.The Jets have done some shuffling in their secondary, cutting cornerback Darryl Roberts and signing former Rams safety Marqui Christian. 

The decision to cut Roberts is no surprise and it clears $6 million in cap space for the Jets. Roberts is a valued and respected special teamer, but he’s struggled as a cornerback. The Jets had to move on from him Saturday, because $2 million of his contract was set to become fully guaranteed if he was still on the roster Sunday, the fifth day of the new league year.

Christian gives the Jets a solid, experienced backup for Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye at safety. He’s also a valuable special teamer; he played 34 percent of the Rams’ defensive snaps last season 79 percent of their special teams’ snaps. 

It’s unclear what the move could mean for Rontez Miles, a fixture on the Jets’ special teams since 2015. Miles, also a backup safety, has played only 15 games over the past two seasons because of injury.

► Adding another offensive lineman, 1:40 p.m.: Douglas continues focusing on his offensive line adding another depth piece on Saturday. The Jets have signed offensive lineman Josh Andrews, who played six games with the Colts last season. Andrews is a depth signing to bolster the interior offensive line — he played fewer than 100 snaps for the Colts in each of the last two seasons.

Andrews, 28, spent was in Philadelphia with Douglas before joining the Colts.

FRIDAY, MARCH 20 

► Key defensive player returns, 3:15 p.m.: The Jets are bringing back one of their key pieces from last year’s defense: inside linebacker Neville Hewitt on a one-year, $2 million contract. Hewitt was a big reason why the Jets’ injury-ravaged defense overachieved last year. With the linebacker corps in tatters, Hewitt started 12 games and matched Jamal Adams as the team’s second-leading tackler. 

Hewitt’s versatility and knowledge of Gregg Williams’ defense ensure he’ll be a contributor in 2020. The soon-to-be 27-year-old could even have the inside track to a starting job, considering both C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson coming back from serious injuries.

►Cornerback depth returns, 11:30 a.m.: Last season, Arthur Maulet proved his value and versatility going from unknown backup to starting six games. It earned him another season on the Jets’ defense. The cornerback re-signed with the Jets on Friday on a one-year deal. 

Maulet, who turns 27 in June, likely will be used as a backup, but his starting experience should serve him well. He’s also a solid special teamer — he recovered a fumble for a touchdown last year. The Jets have a lot of work to do at cornerback, but Maulet gives them some reliable depth. 

THURSDAY, MARCH 19

► Wrapping up a quiet day, 10 p.m.The Jets had another quiet day as the first wave of free agency is winding down. They’ve strengthened their offensive line, but only slightly. They’re still lacking proven starters and depth in front of Sam Darnold. And that’s concerning. 

They’ve also done little to address their other issues. Poole’s return at cornerback is nice, but it makes the Jets no better than they were last season. They haven’t upgraded at wide receiver, and if they don’t bring back Robby Anderson they could take a step back at the position. And they haven’t added an edge rusher. 

Of course, there’s a long way to go. And count on Douglas to bolster those weak spots with low-profile, financially responsible moves. But it’s hard to see the Jets making a big leap forward next season on this current trajectory.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18

► Key piece returns, 2:15 p.m.: The Jets addressed one of their top free-agent priorities on Wednesday, re-signing cornerback Brian Poole at a great value. Here’s why it was so important to bring back their slot corner.  

TUESDAY, MARCH 17

► Another offensive lineman added, 6:35 p.m.: The Jets have signed yet another offensive lineman, adding former Broncos center Connor McGovern on a three-year, $27 million deal with $18 million in guarantees a source confirmed. He’s a good fit for the Jets on several levels, and should make the offensive line better. But the Jets still have a lot of work to do to ensure the offensive line is competent next season. 

► Key o-line piece returns, 4:20 p.m.: The Jets are once again focusing on their offensive line, re-signing left guard Alex Lewis a source confirmed. Lewis signed a three-year, $18.6 million deal with six million guaranteed. 

Lewis was probably the Jets’ best offensive lineman last season. Unfortunately, that distinction doesn’t mean much because the Jets’ offensive line was arguably the worst in the league. Lewis did a solid job at left guard early in the season, but he got banged up as the year went on and ended up on injured reserve for the final game of the season with an ankle injury. 

He has the ability to be an above-average starter, but Lewis’ injury history remains a major concern. He missed 28 of his first 48 games in the NFL.

George Fant is an offensive tackle, but the Seahawks may use him as a tight end on Sunday against the Rams. (Photo: Joe Nicholson, Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

MONDAY, MARCH 16

► Jets enter the fray with o-line addition, 9:15 p.m.: Finally, the Jets have agreed to sign a free agent. George Fant, the former Seahawks offensive tackle, has agreed to sign with the Jets on a three-year, $30 million deal that includes $13.7 million in guarantees a source confirmed. 

Fant has a lot of upside. He was the Seahawks starting left tackle for most of 2016 and began the 2017 season in that role before suffering a torn ACL in the preseason. The 6-5, 322-pound Fant, who played college basketball at Western Kentucky, returned to play in all 16 games each of the last two seasons, starting a total of 14 games. 

Now, he’ll give the Jets some depth at tackle. And there’s a very good chance that Fant will get to compete for the starting job. Either way, with only $13.7 million guaranteed, the Jets got good value and bolstered their offensive — even if it’s not a splashy signing.

► No big-name corners for the Jets, 6:55 p.m.: The Jets don’t appear willing to spend big to fix another one of their biggest needs, cornerback. Byron Jones and James Bradberry, two of the top corners on the market, agreed to sign big deals on Monday night. 

Jones is going to division rival Miami Dolphins, setting a new high for cornerbacks at $17 million per season according to NFL Network. That’s a steep price for Jones, the former Cowboy, and after the Jets disastrously overpaid for Trumaine Johnson two years ago, it’s fine that they didn’t go there. 

Bradberry’s deal, with the Giants, was more reasonable. The former Panthers cornerback signed a three-year, $45 million deal with $32 million guaranteed. It’s not cheap, but at some point, you’d think the Jets will spend big money on one of their big deficiencies. 

So far they haven’t been willing to do it on the offensive line or at cornerback. They still have a big need at wide receiver, however. 

► Jets appear to be going under-radar on o-line, 6:04 p.m.: If the Jets are going to upgrade their offensive line in free agency, it will likely be with under-the-radar moves. Another big-time Jets target is off the board, after versatile guard Graham Glasgow signed with the Denver Broncos. The four-year, $44 million deal, reportedly included $25 million guaranteed. That $11 million per year would seemingly have been well within the Jets’ price range, especially considering how badly they need to upgrade their offensive line. But the Jets didn’t land him. 

As it stands, the Jets don’t have a starting left tackle, left guard or starting center on their roster. And the two starters penciled into the lineup both carry major question marks: right guard Brian Winters is coming off a major shoulder injury and right guard Chuma Edoga had an up-and-down rookie year. 

The Jets missed out on tackle Jack Conklin, who landed with the Browns. They didn’t get the chance to go after Patriots guard Joe Thuney, after the Patriots put the franchise tag on him late Monday morning, nor did they have a chance to go after guard Brandon Scherff, who was tagged by the Redskins on Sunday.

And with Glasgow off the board, there are few proven offensive linemen in their prime remaining on the market.

The Jets still have the No. 11 pick in the draft, which they could use on an offensive tackle — it should help that the Browns and Broncos, both picking ahead of them, upgraded their offensive line on Monday. 

But if the Jets are going to upgrade their line in free agency, they’ll have to pay a veteran as a short-term stopgap — perhaps Jason Peters or Andrew Whitworth — or add a less proven free agent. Both options are risky, as the Jets proved last summer when they signed veteran center Ryan Kalil out of retirement, only for him to struggle mightily in an abysmal season for the offensive line.

►5:05 p.m.: Another big-time offensive lineman who could have helped the Jets is off the market. Right tackle Jack Conklin agreed to a deal with the Browns, ESPN reported. The three-year, $42 million deal includes $30 million guaranteed and $20 million in the first year. It’s a steep price, but the Jets could have afforded the $14 million per year for a much-needed upgrade to their offensive line. 

Instead, the best available tackle is off the board and it’s looking more and more like the Jets won’t make a big offensive-line splash in free agency. They’re still reportedly interested in Lions offensive lineman Graham Glasgow. The 2016 third-round pick out of Michigan has experience at guard and tackle, and would be a big upgrade for the offensive line if not a splashy one.

4:15 p.m.: The Jets have shown interest in former Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara, a source confirmed. The Jets are one of several teams that have reached out to Amukamara, who started 15 games for the Bears last year. The 30-year-old could be a good fit for the Jets as a No. 2 outside cornerback. 

1:45 p.m.: The entire NFL was shocked by the Texans’ decision to trade DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Cardinals for a David Johnson, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick. But the move could impact the Jets in the draft, with the Cardinals now almost certain to take an offensive tackle at No. 8, leaving the Jets, who also need a tackle, fewer options.

1 p.m.: Jordan Jenkins’ time with the Jets could be ending. But he might end up in North Jersey anyway. The Giants are interested in the outside linebacker, as Art Stapleton writes in his live coverage of Giants’ free agency. Jenkins has grown into an important leader and on-field presence, but the Jets let him get to the market. 

12:15 p.m.: The Cowboys’ inability to reach an extension with Amari Cooper means the can go after the big-time wide receiver. But it’s going to be costly. He could command more than $20 million per season. Given the Jets other needs, it would be hard to justify spending that much on one position. 

11:45 a.m.: The Patriots used the franchise tag on standout guard Joe Thuney, who certainly would have been on the Jets’ radar had he gotten to free agency. Now, if the Jets want Thuney they must negotiate a trade with the Patriots. Otherwise, yet another offensive line target is off the board. 

Pending free agents 

Here is the complete list of Jets players who were set to hit free agency, with continuous updates of how their situation is resolved. 

WR Robby Anderson — Unrestricted free agent

OLB Jordan Jenkins — Unrestricted free agent

LG Alex Lewis — UFA who was re-signed by the Jets.

LT Kelvin Beachum — Unrestricted free agent

WR Demaryius Thomas — Unrestricted free agent

CB Brian Poole — UFA who was re-signed by the Jets. 

QB Trevor Siemian — Unrestricted free agent

S Rontez Miles — Unrestricted free agent

RB Bilal Powell — Unrestricted free agent

RB Ty Montgomery — Unrestricted free agent

OLB Brandon Copeland — Unrestricted free agent

C Ryan Kalil — Unrestricted free agent

OL Tom Compton — UFA who signed with the 49ers.

ILB Neville Hewitt –– Unrestricted free agent

OL Brent Qvale — UFA who signed with the Texans. 

LB Albert McClellan — Unrestricted free agent

ILB Paul Worrilow — Unrestricted free agent

QB David Fales — Unrestricted free agent

CB Maurice Canady — UFA who signed with the Cowboys.

LB James Burgess — Unrestricted free agent after Jets did not extend tender

LB B.J. Bello — Unrestricted free agent

OL Brandon Shell — UFA who signed with the Seahawks. 

P Lachlan Edwards — Unrestricted free agent

K Sam Ficken — Restricted free agent

CB Arthur Maulet — Unrestricted free agent after Jets did not extend tender 

CB/S Bennett Jackson — Unrestricted free agent after Jets did not extend tender

OLB Frankie Luvu — Restricted free agent 

OLLeo Koloamatangi — Restricted free agent

Players released

Trumaine Johnson (Photo: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com-USA Today Network)

The Jets can clear a significant amount of cap space by moving on from players who don’t factor into their future plans. Here’s who they’ve cut so far. 

CB Darryl Roberts: (Saved $6 million in cap space; cut March 21)

CB Trumaine Johnson (The Jets used the post-June 1 designation under the new CBA when they released Johnson on March 18, saving them $11 million against the cap in 2020 with $4 million in dead money. Johnson’s dead cap charge will be $8 million in 2021, however.)

S Blake Countess (saved $1.2 million)

Andy Vasquez is the Jets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Jets analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.

Email: vasqueza@northjersey.com Twitter: @andy_vasquez 


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