The New York Jets haven’t had much success in their franchise history. A remarkable Super Bowl III win as the underdogs is the biggest moment the team can boast, but since that 1968 triumph there has been very little for Jets fans to celebrate. As a franchise the Jets are 90 games under .500, and only trending down. Their last winning season was 2015, and they haven’t put together back-to-back winning seasons since 2009-10. The last time they won the division was 2002 and they have just hired their sixth head coach since Bill Belichick decided he wanted to take over the Patriots.
In 2018 there was a faint air of optimism around the Jets. They drafted a new quarterback in Sam Darnold, but most of the roster was poor thanks to years of bad drafts and cutting any expensive veterans. The Jets slumped to a 4-12 record that saw the end of Todd Bowles’ tenure and left a lot of question marks over what direction the franchise was going in.
The hiring of Adam Gase may well take the Jets forward in 2019, but in Madden 19 Franchise Mode it is up to you to salvage the franchise and make them relevant again. You get to replay the 2018 season and save Todd Bowles’ job while driving the development of Sam Darnold and rebuilding the team.
In Madden 19 the Jets get a 77 overall rating, made up of a 77 rated offense and an 81 rated defense. This is not a good score, only 5 teams have a worse overall rating, meaning you have a hell of a job on your hands to get them a second Super Bowl. So what tools do you have to work with? Well, let’s start by looking at the Jets salary cap situation.
New York Jets Salary Cap
In Franchise Mode the Jets start with 65 players on the roster and $46.9 million in cap space. That is quite a big chunk of change, and it will only go up when you cut down the 53-man regular season roster.
There are 23 players you can cut without incurring a cap penalty, and cutting the 12 players necessary to meet roster limits should free up another $3-4 million in cap space to allow you to go wild in free agency and re-sign whichever impending free agents you want.
New York Jets Impending Free Agents
The Jets have a massive 34 players entering the final year of their contract. Most of these players can be allowed to walk without any issue, but some will need to be retained as they can play important depth roles as the roster improves over time.
The most important impending free agent is wide receiver Robby Anderson. At 25 and with 94 speed, Anderson is the Jets best receiver without question. Given such a large amount of cap space you should keep Anderson and let him anchor a receiver corps that could take some time to bring together fully. Sam Darnold will need someone to throw to, and Anderson can be that guy.
After that are a couple of defensive linemen Steve McLendon and Henry Anderson. These two are not great, but they are good role players that every team needs to function properly. Even if your draft scouting has shown plenty of stars, you could grab or you have a hope of signing a big-name free agent you should try to retain the services of these two so you can operate a proper defensive rotation and keep fresh bodies on the field.
The cornerback position is also about to be decimated, with three of the top four corners about to hit free agency, keeping any one of these would be smart even if you have your heart set on drafting someone here. Most defensive snaps are run with three cornerbacks on the field so you need depth here.
Other key impending free agents: Darryl Roberts (CB), Jason Myers (K), Bilal Powell (HB), Jermaine Kearse (WR)
New York Jets Roster Needs
Where do we even begin? At just 75 overall Sam Darnold isn’t great but he can be developed over time. There is a need to put talent around him though. Isaiah Crowell is a solid running back but if Le’Veon Bell hits free agency, it might be wise to throw an offer at him.
Even if you re-sign Robby Anderson you should try to find better receivers, especially at tight end where there is no viable option on the roster currently. After all, Darnold can only develop if he has people to throw to.
The Jets offensive line also needs an overhaul. Only right guard Brian Winters is a solid player, and both starting tackles come in at under 80 OVR. If there is a star left tackle available in the draft, you should bring him in to protect Darnold and improve the run blocking too and then stockpile receivers later on.
Defensively the Jets are a little better, but their depth chart is still very thin. At safety they are pretty set with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye and defensive end Leonard Williams is terrific, but that’s about it as far as players you’ll have on your roster into season 3. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon is an impending free agent and 32 years old, he should be retained but on a short-term deal and not as a starter.
The Jets currently run a 3-4 defense but with the amount of retooling the unit needs you can easily switch that up. If one of the big pass rushers hits free agency then you should absolutely try your hardest to sign them. Inside linebackers are pretty easy to find so you shouldn’t fret there, but cornerbacks are not and that is the other spot you should look to improve as quickly as possible.
So where does all this leave you? You have to find upgrades at three of the four premium positions (left tackle, pass rusher, & cornerback) which is a tough place to be. Most draft classes will have quality at these positions, but with Jadeveon Clowney, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dee Ford, and Trey Flowers all impending free agents you are most likely going to be able to sign a terrific free agent pass rusher and then focus in on blocking and coverage during the draft. The addition of offensive weapons should wait until the mid-rounds of your season 1 draft, and if you don’t hit a star there, then you may end up having to wait until season 3 to find a superb receiver.
The Jets path to a Super Bowl is as long as any teams. They have a lot of needs, but they have a lot of ways to improve and have the most important piece of all, a talented young quarterback. Taking them from the bottom of the NFL to the Super Bowl will take a serious investment of time and effort in Franchise Mode, but isn’t that the point? The struggle will make success all the sweeter.