2024 Offseason Preview: the New York Jets try again

Aaron Rodgers’ Jets debut ended just four snaps into the season. His absence highlights that the team has more issues than just quarterback. They can still contend in 2024 with the right moves … but will the braintrust of Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh be around to make them?
Brothers Quincy and Quinnen Williams are just two of the many talented players on the Jets defense.
Brothers Quincy and Quinnen Williams are just two of the many talented players on the Jets defense. / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The New York Jets might have finished only 7-10 in 2022, but pieces looked to be on the right track. The defense emerged as a top unit, finishing fourth in scoring and yardage and second in points per drive. Wideout Garrett Wilson tallied more than 1,100 yards in his debut season, and rookie running back Breece Hall looked to be on a torrid pace himself before injury ended his campaign. Just upgrade quarterback Zach Wilson, a disappointment through two seasons, and there might be a Super Bowl contender, so the logic went.

Enter legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the four-team MVP … and then exit Rodgers, with a torn Achilles tendon just four snaps into the 2023 season. Exit Super Bowl chances, as well.

Rodgers may be 40 years old, but he’s already returned to practice, hoping to make a miraculous return just a few months after an injury that normally sidelines players a full calendar year. That return looks too late to save New York’s 2023 season, but coupled with a productive offseason, it could set things up for “take two” in 2024.


Owner: Woody Johnson

General Manager: Joe Douglas

Head Coach: Robert Saleh

Joe Douglas took over as Jets general manager in 2019, not long after helping architect the Super Bowl LII Philadelphia Eagles. As vice president of player personnel, he rebuilt a scouting staff that had lost pieces in the Chip Kelly era, adding talent both behind the scenes and on the field. Unfortunately, over five seasons with Gang Green, he hasn’t achieved anywhere near those kind of results. New York is 24-53 in Douglas’ tenure, and while owner Woody Johnson might give him a pass for Rodgers’ injury and the 2023 season, the body of work still lands him on the hot seat.

It’s a similar story with Robert Saleh, the defensive mind who rose to prominence as coordinator for the 2019 San Francisco 49ers in their run to the Super Bowl. His acumen on that side of the ball has translated to New York, but his inability to produce quality offense leaves him, too, with an underwhelming record: 15-30.

It’s been a long stretch of losing now under owner Woody Johnson. The Jets made back-to-back AFC Championship games under Rex Ryan in 2009 and 2010, but they haven’t made the playoffs since, with only one winning season.

Building Blocks

The Jets defense has stars and / or young studs at every level. Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, linebackers C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, cornerbacks D.J. Reed and Sauce Gardner all rank among the top 10 at their respective positions according to Pro Football Focus. Jermaine Johnson, a first-rounder in 2022, has emerged as a quality player in his second season, and they used another first round pick on pass rush in the 2023 draft, taking Will McDonald IV out of Iowa State.

The offense does not have as much to build around. There’s some hope Rodgers can re-capture his MVP form, but he’s getting up there in age. Wilson and Hall form a potent skill duo, but … well, let’s just skip ahead to the next section.


The offensive line has been a problem. Alijah Vera-Tucker, the 2021 first-rounder who has played every position but center in his three years in the NFL, has been their best lineman. However, he tore his Achilles tendon, landing him on injured reserve for the second straight year. None of the other linemen rank in the top half of their positions per PFF. Tackle Mekhi Becton, the team’s first-round pick in 2020, has finally stayed healthy, but the team declined his fifth year option, landing him in free agency after the season.

The team has struggled to find consistent production behind Wilson and veteran tight end Tyler Conklin. Allen Lazard signed for $44 million in the offseason, but he’s severely disappointed, and the team jettisoned Elijah Moore in March. New York signed speedster Mecole Hardman in March, only to dump him in October. Through 11 weeks, no wide receivers other than Wilson and Lazard have even 100 yards receiving.

Of course, some of that lack of production is on the quarterback, and for the third straight season, Zach Wilson proved flat-out bad. The team even benched Wilson for 29-year-old Tim Boyle, who had only made three starts in his NFL career, with predictably similar results so far.

The defense, fortunately, won’t need as much attention as the offense. As a whole, it’s taken a step back from 2022, and quality pending free agents in safety Jordan Whitehead and edge rusher Bryce Huff will need to be re-signed or replaced, but few teams can match their nucleus of talent.


For a 4-7 team, you would expect more cap space than the $30 million Over the Cap projects the Jets to have in 2024. Nine players are scheduled to count for more than $10 million against the cap, with Mosely and Williams over $20 million. They can clear some space with restructures or extensions, but not much with cuts. Fortunately, they don’t have a lot of key free agents to retain or replace.

The trade for Rodgers cost the Jets their second-round pick. They have an extra fourth-rounder but are missing a fifth. Over the Cap projects them to receive as many as three seventh-rounders as compensatory selections.

Prognosis and Plan

The 2023 season never got off the ground for the Jets. The obvious solution here is just to run it back, hope Rodgers is healthier, patch the offensive line, add a complementary receiver or two, and try to compete in 2024.

I’m curious as to whether Woody Johnson decides Douglas and Saleh deserve the opportunity to try again, or if the team prefers a fresh sets of eyes and ideas. Neither has a great track record so far, but Rodgers’ injury gives the Jets’ owner a rare opportunity to practice patience.

The other element I’ll be watching is how New York balances the present and the future. With Rodgers north of 40 and no young quarterback waiting in the wings, do they pick a successor high? Or do they go all-in to help the 2024 team, potentially leaving them exposed in the future or in the case of another Rodgers injury? With a few savvy moves and some offensive reinforcements, they can compete in 2024, but it behooves them to look closely at the quarterback prospects available.

A sober look at the offense reveals that, perhaps contrary to common thought, the Jets were more than just a quarterback away. The offensive line has problems up and down the unit, and receiving depth behind Wilson is lacking. But with an offseason to fix these issues, plus a hopefully healthy Rodgers, there’s a chance to elevate the team into contender status—a place they haven’t been in a long time.