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New York Jets 2024 NFL offseason primer: How to maximize critical campaign with Aaron Rodgers

New York Jets' 2023 season: 7-10, missed playoffs

Overview: Everything went haywire just four plays into the season when prized trade acquisition and quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down for the season with a torn Achilles. The Jets never found a solution at QB and the resulting anemic offense couldn't support a defense that ranked third in DVOA this season.

In short, this team is pretty much right where it was entering last season, only Rodgers is now 40 and coming off a serious injury. Even if the four-time MVP returns to full form, the Jets need to fill some serious holes in the offensive line and wide receiver rooms to fix what was one of the worst units in the league.

Key free agents

EDGE Bryce HuffDE Carl LawsonOT Mekhi BectonWR Randall CobbDT Quinton JeffersonK Greg Zuerlein

Who's in/out: Huff has become a certified hit in New York, recording 10 sacks in 2023, his fourth year as a pro after going undrafted in 2020. Unfortunately, his market might be too rich for the Jets' blood, according to The Athletic. It might be more realistic for the Jets to bring back players like Jefferson and Zuerlein on more reasonable deals, while Lawson, Becton and Cobb simply haven't been effective players.

Key free agent needs

Offensive tackleOffensive guardWide receiverSafety

Why the holes? There's no sugarcoating it: The offensive line has been a mess. Former first-round pick Mekhi Becton has struggled at left tackle and two other starters, Connor McGovern and Alijah Vera-Tucker, suffered season-ending injuries this past campaign. The team will likely have to add multiple players to this unit, whether through free agency or the draft. And on receiver side, the team needs another reliable weapon outside of Garrett Wilson.

Do they have the money? They'll find a way. The Jets have $7.6 million in projected cap space, per Spotrac, which isn't much, but they'll have to make some room with restructures and cuts so they can bolster the offense around Rodgers. They can't afford to be passive this offseason given Rodgers' age and the amount of draft capital the team gave up to get him.

Potential notable cuts

WR C.J. UzomahDE John Franklin-Myers

Why they might be gone: Uzomah is the most obvious candidate here as he's turned in disappointing results the last two seasons and would yield $5.3 million in cap savings if released. Franklin-Myers, on the other hand, has proven to be a solid defender but may simply be a cap casualty because of a potential $7 million-plus savings, according to Spotrac.

Draft picks

1st round: No. 103rd round: No. 72 overall4th round 4th round (from Broncos)6th round 7th round (compensatory)7th round (compensatory)7th round (compensatory)

Good draft fit

JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Why him? Going along with the theme of the offensive line being the top priority this offseason for the Jets, Latham could bring an instant boost to the unit in both pass protection, thanks to his massive 350-pound frame, and in the run game with his ability to erase defenders, according to Yahoo's Nate Tice and Charles McDonald in their latest mock draft.

What can move the fantasy football needle this offseason?

Aaron Rodgers turned 40 in December and it's hard to know what's left in the tank after a lost 2023 season. But any version of Rodgers looks like heaven compared to the clown car the Jets rolled out at quarterback last year. Somehow Breece Hall managed to finish as the RB6, and Garrett Wilson cobbled together a WR30 campaign, despite the limitations of Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian and Tim Boyle. If Rodgers merely has a league-average season in 2024, Hall and Wilson should be fantasy stars; if Rodgers pushes past the league mean, the Jets offense could go to the moon. — Scott Pianowski