Before they invested the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft on dynamic quarterback Zach Wilson, the New York Jets used free agency to make major upgrades to a talent-depleted roster. That strategy seemed to fill a few critical holes in the lineup.
However, it hasn’t taken long for one of the team’s key offseason signings to experience a setback. And given his abundance of injury issues in Tennessee, it looks like the Jets already have a reason to worry about investing significant financial resources on bringing Corey Davis to New York.
New York spent big money in free agency this offseason
Jets general manager Joe Douglas entered the offseason with a long list of needs to address. Thanks to having an abundance of cap space, the former Philadelphia Eagles personnel executive managed to take care of business rather quickly.
Carl Lawson received the largest deal of any of New York’s free-agent additions. Coming off a season in which he recorded 32 quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in only 11 starts, the explosive defensive end signed a three-year, $45 million deal with $30 million guaranteed. Given his high level of production in a limited role, Lawson seems like a surefire bet to put up big numbers as a full-time starter.
In need of help on offense, the Jets gave Davis an expensive contract of his own. After totaling 65 catches for 984 yards and five touchdowns in his fourth year with the Titans, he secured a major raise by signing a three-year contract worth $37.5 million. At that price, New York obviously envisions him taking over as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
The Jets also added established veterans in defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (two years, $11 million), cornerback Justin Hardee (three years, $6.75 million), wideout Keelan Cole (one year, $5.5 million), and safety LaMarcus Joyner (one year, $3 million). Plus, Douglas also made a few low-risk, high-reward signings by Jarrad Davis and Dan Feeney — two players looking to resurrect their careers after entering the league as high draft picks in recent years.
The Jets already have a reason to worry about their expensive investment
Think the Jets might have some second thoughts about signing Davis to a lucrative contract? Taking his injury history into account, they should feel a little more concerned about his ability to live up to his $37.5 million deal.
On Friday, NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo provided an update about a setback Davis suffered at organized team activities on Thursday.
“#Jets WR Corey Davis suffered what’s believed to be a minor shoulder strain at OTAs yesterday when he went up for a ball and landed on his shoulder, sources say. Dr. James Andrews is taking a look at the scans today, but team docs believe Davis will be OK with some rest,” Garafolo tweeted.
Does a minor strain represent a sign of things to come? Or did Davis just have a stroke of unfortunate luck?
While only he and the Jets have a true understanding of his injury, the fact Davis already sustained some damage at this point in the offseason program looks bad based on his time with the Titans. One of the reasons he didn’t quite live up to expectations in Tennessee was his inability to stay on the field. Davis only played in 16 games once (2018) during his four years with the team. He dealt with hamstring issues as a rookie, and a hip strain caused him to miss time in 2019.
Davis can’t afford to fall behind because of injuries. He has to pick up a new system and develop chemistry with a new quarterback — neither of which will happen if he’s standing on the sidelines. When you guarantee $27 million on a player to be the focal point of your passing game, you expect him to be ready to go at all times. If Davis can’t stay healthy, the Jets will look foolish for banking on his ability to live up to his talent level in his fifth year in the league.
Can the Jets improve on offense with so many question marks at key positions?
The Jets better hope Davis avoids any further setbacks this summer. After all, they desperately need him to provide their offense with a boost on the perimeter. But predicting whether he’ll put up big numbers is an impossible task given all the other question marks on that side of the ball.
Will Wilson make a quick transition from college to the pros? Will his size prohibit him from making as big of an impact as the Jets hope?
Meanwhile, what’s the situation at running back? Can rookie Michael Carter prove NFL teams wrong for letting him slide to the fourth round? Does La’Mical Perine have a future as a do-it-all weapon out of the backfield?
Looking at the trenches, the Jets have to feel good about the left side of their line. But can Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker become an elite duo at such a young age? Or will their be some growing pains for the two first-rounders?
Overall, the Jets have some intriguing players to get excited about on offense. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team shows some struggles early on. With so many new faces in the mix, it will take some patience and plenty of practice for everything to come together.