AFC East preview: Offseason moves show it's Super Bowl or bust for Jets


Staff member

It has been another go-for-broke offseason for the New York Jets, who figuratively have pushed all their chips to the middle of the table on 2024.

They’re banking on quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return from a ruptured Achilles tendon at age 40 – he turns 41 on Dec. 2 – and lead them to Super Bowl contention.

If Rodgers can recapture his MVP form from the 2021 season – how big of an if is it? – the Jets just might wind up in New Orleans for the championship game in February as they try to win it all for the first time since 1969.

With that in mind, the Jets placed some other one-year bets.

They signed 33-year-old left tackle Tyron Smith from the Cowboys to a one-year contract to start at the position. He’s elite when healthy. He missed most of the 2020 and 2022 seasons to injury and missed six games in 2021 and four in 2023. That’s 37 missed games over four seasons.

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams makes a catch against Tennessee in September. The Jets are counting on Williams to return after he underwent major knee surgery in October.
Associated Press

They signed soon-to-be 30-year-old receiver Mike Williams (Chargers), coming off torn knee ligaments suffered in Week 3 last season.

They signed big defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw to a one-year deal. He’s a 2020 first-round pick who battled injuries and was a disappointment in San Francisco.

They reacquired 33-year-old right tackle Morgan Moses (Ravens), who’s on the last year of his contract.

Rodgers is talking confidently.

“I have a lot of motivation. I love the game, I want to play at a high level, I don’t want to go out, as I’ve said before, as a bum,’ he said in May.

“I can obviously still throw with the best of them and can still move around and look forward to my confidence and my ability to move, getting back to where it was last year and going out and playing well. I think all the individual possibilities for recognition would be great, but if I play the way I’m capable of playing, we’re going to be playing for a lot more than that.”

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, seen in May in New Jersey, is looking to come back at age 40 from a season-ending injury in 2023. Associated Press

Offseason buzz: Las Vegas oddsmakers are hedging their bets. The Jets’ over-under win total is 9.5, one game shy of the Bills’ total of 10.5.

Who’s new? Besides Smith, Williams, Kinlaw and Moses, the big acquisition was trading a third-round pick for Eagles speed rusher Haason Redick, who has 50.5 sacks the past four seasons. They opted for Redick rather than re-signing young speed rusher Bryce Huff. However, Redick also is on the last year of his contract and wants a new one, which would be very expensive.

Also new: OT Olu Fashanu (first round), WR Malachi Corley (third round), RB Braelon Allen (fourth round), G John Simpson (Ravens), DT Leki Fotu (Cardinals), QB Tyrod Taylor (Giants).

Who’s gone? S Jordan Whitehead (Buccaneers), DE Bryce Huff (Eagles), DE John Franklin-Myers (Rams), G Laken Tomlinson (Seahawks), DT Quinton Jefferson (Browns), CB Bryce Hall (Buccaneers), TE C.J. Uzomah (Eagles), QB Zach Wilson (Broncos).

Key numbers: The Jets’ defense ranked first in yards per play allowed, second in pass yards allowed and third in total yards allowed, despite having the 31st ranked offense in the league. Imagine the upside if Rodgers makes the offense a top-10 unit.

What’s next? Will the Achilles injury impact Rodgers’ mobility or make him quicker to pull the trigger in the pocket? Will Rodgers, who skipped minicamp without permission, be a stable leader if things start going wrong? Check back in October. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who bombed as Denver head coach in 2022 but who coached Rodgers from 2019 to 2021, is on the hot seat. The Jets have a potential replacement on hand in pass game coordinator Todd Downing in case the team suffers a slow start. The key camp battle is at safety, where Chuck Clark, Tony Adams and Ashtyn Davis will compete for two starting spots. If everyone stays healthy, the Jets are poised to knock the Bills off in the AFC East. But a lot could go wrong, too.
I want a slimy green metallic splat with a wet spiked fart noise to accompany it. And I want it by end of October.