A decade has come and gone since the New York Jets last made the playoffs. Since Rex Ryan's consecutive AFC title game appearances, Gang Green has had just one winning season. In a microcosm of what the last decade has been for the Jets, that season (2015) ended in heartbreak after the Jets lost in Buffalo in Week 17, knocking them out of postseason contention.
The bottom fell out on the Jets in 2020. After a promising finish to the 2019 season, the Jets lost their first 13 games before finishing with a 2-14 record. While injuries played a role in the Jets' struggles, inner turmoil forced the team to part with talented safety Jamal Adams. The Jets also released Le'Veon Bell and traded away respected veteran Steve McLendon during the season. New York also had to deal with the constant questions surrounding Sam Darnold, as former head coach Adam Gase (another casualty of the tumultuous season) himself admitted that he did not do a good enough job to advance the young quarterback.
Despite the recent losing, there is hope in the form of Robert Saleh, who comes to New York after a highly successful run as the 49ers' defensive coordinator. And while he is not promising a quick turnaround, Saleh is committed to the cause of trying to bring the Jets their first championship in over 50 years.
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"To our fans, we embrace your passion, we embrace your expectations. We cannot wait to go on this journey with you," Saleh said during his introductory press conference. "Please understand, we understand that we have a lot of work to do. But make no mistake that our goal is to win championships. And so again, I cannot wait to get through this journey with all of y'all. It's going to be an exciting time, and I promise that you're going to love what y'all see."
This is your one-stop destination for everything involving the Jets' 2021 offseason. Over the next several months, we'll update this story with all prevalent information regarding Gang Green. Those updates will include schedule announcements, player transactions, draft news, and other relevant information.
Key upcoming dates
- March 9: Teams have until this date to franchise tag players.
- March 15-17: Legal negotiating window ahead of free agency.
- March 17: The NFL's new league year begins. At 4 p.m. EST, free agents can begin meeting with and signing with new teams.
- April 19: Start of offseason workouts for teams with incumbent coaches.
- April 23: Last day of the restricted free agent signing period.
- April 28: Last day to match offer sheets for restricted free agents.
- April 29-May 1: 2021 NFL Draft.
Unrestricted in-house free agents
DE Henry Anderson
WR Breshad Perriman
CB Brian Poole
SS Bradley McDougald
OLB Jordan Jenkins
ILB Neville Hewitt
ILB Patrick Onwuasor
FS Marcus Maye
QB Joe Flacco
SS Matthias Farley
RB Frank Gore
G Pat Elflein
TE Daniel Brown
ILB Bryce Hager
TE Ross Travis
CB Arthur Maulet
OLB Tarell Basham
DT Trevon Coley
The Jets are expected to have nearly $75 million in salary cap space, one of the highest totals in the NFL. While they will likely use some of that money on outside free agents, Jets general manager Joe Douglas recently said that the team has had conversations with Marcus Maye's representatives about signing him to a long-term contract.
Unrestricted free agents signings from other teams
The Jets have myriad of needs, and at the top of the list is addressing the quarterback, cornerback and EDGE positions. Even if the Jets stick with Darnold, they would be wise to add a capable backup to the roster. Options here include Ryan Fitzpatrick (the team's quarterback the last time the Jets had a winning season), Tyrod Taylor and Jameis Winston. If the Jets really wanted to bring in competition, they could sign Cam Newton, who endured an up and down 2020 season with the Patriots. The Jets could also try to land Deshaun Watson, who has publicly stated that he will not play for the Texans moving forward.
Outside of quarterback, other possible free agent options include cornerbacks Richard Sherman (who played under Saleh in San Francisco), Mike Hilton and A.J. Bouye, and EDGE rushers Bud Dupree, Melvin Ingram and Yannick Ngakoue.
2021 NFL Draft picks
The Jets are currently armed with the No. 2 and No. 23 overall picks in the draft. Each of our four CBS Sports NFL Draft experts have the Jets using the second overall pick on former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. The verdict is currently split on what the Jets will do with the 23rd overall pick. Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso have the Jets using the pick to select former Purdue receiver Rondale Moore. Josh Edwards has the Jets selecting former Penn State edge rusher Jayson Oweh. Pete Prisco predicts the Jets will use the pick to select Travis Etienne.
Rumors, reports and updates
March 3: The Jets continue to be non-committal as it relates to Sam Darnold's future with the club. When asked about Darnold, GM Joe Douglas said the team's stance on him "hasn't changed." The Jets have not ruled out Darnold returning to the fold in 2021, but they also haven't ruled out trading him.
"He's an extremely talented player and he's very smart, very tough," Douglas said. "We have no doubt that Sam is going to achieve his outstanding potential. Obviously, we're in the process of gaining as much information as we can leading up through free agency and the draft, but our stance on Sam has not changed."