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Jets must figure out Bryce Huff dilemma to star offseason

Jets fans who were hoping to overcome the disappointing 2023 season and move on to 2024 are about to get their wish fulfilled.

The 2024 offseason will heat up even more in the coming weeks. The franchise tag window opens on Tuesday. The NFL Scouting Combine will be held next week, and free agency will begin in three weeks.

We are done analyzing what went wrong in 2023. It’s time for the Jets to figure out how to fix things heading into 2024.

Joe Douglas’ offseason will be much different than what he’s used to as the Jets’ GM. Bill Kostron/New York Post

Jets owner Woody Johnson said in the Super Bowl two weeks ago that he expected the team to do much better this season than the 7-10 record the team had the past two years, and that the general It put pressure on manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh.

Douglas has to make many difficult decisions. Let’s take a look at the Jets’ biggest problems in the coming weeks.

What will happen to Bryce Huff?

There’s no question that Huff is the biggest free agent the Jets have to plan for.

I don’t think the Jets will use the franchise tag on Huff.

The defender is projected to make $20.2 million, according to Over the Cap.

If the Jets are willing to give Huff $20 million per season, I think they can sign him to a long-term deal.

Mr. Huff’s evaluation is one of the harshest I can remember. There aren’t many players who can match him. He is a rare player that the Jets have developed at a premium position.

Bryce Huff reacts to the firing of Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Last season, he had 10 sacks but only played 42 percent of the defensive snaps.

The Jets have used first-round picks at defensive end in each of the past two drafts. Does it make sense to pay big bucks for a position where you’ve already invested draft resources?

It’s possible the Jets could tell Huff to try free agency and come back to the Jets, but that would be risky. Huff may think another team is a better option for him, not only from a financial standpoint, but also from a playing time standpoint.

Jets fans love Huff. This would be a publicity blow for the Jets if they lost him.

Are there any players other than the Jets that are targeting free agency?

After Huff, the Jets don’t have many other free agents that could be called a major priority. The top two will likely be their special teams, kicker Greg Zuerlein and punter Thomas Morstead.

The Jets will have to work to get both of them back.

They could try to re-sign Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas to maintain depth on the interior of the defensive line.

Greg Zuerlein greets punter Thomas Morstead after kicking a field goal during the second quarter against the Patriots. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

I don’t think they’ll try to re-sign big names like Mekhi Becton, Randall Cobb, Carl Lawson or Duane Brown.

Jordan Whitehead made an interesting decision in a safe situation. The Jets liked what he did in coverage, but he struggled as a tackler last season. If the price is right, you cannot rule out the possibility of a return.

Where will Douglas turn once free agency begins?

The good news for Douglas is that the Jets don’t have as many needs as they have in past years. The bad news is that the needs they actually have are obvious and he no longer has any margin for error.

The first priority is to find a tackle.

I think the Jets will likely use the No. 10 overall pick on a tackle, but they’ll need two.

The top tackles available in free agency are Mike Onwenu, Jonah Williams, and Tyron Smith. Douglas needs to land one of them.

The Jets need two linebackers, and the Cowboys’ Tyron Smith is the top choice in free agency. Getty Images

The next priority is wide receiver.

Tee Higgins would be an ideal complement to Garrett Wilson, but the Bengals are expected to place the franchise tag on him.

The next options are Mike Evans and Calvin Ridley.

The Jets struggled with their backup quarterback last season. They won’t make that mistake again. Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew and Ryan Tannehill are all potential targets in free agency.

How much cap space do the Jets have?

The Jets are currently projected to have $1.7 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap, so Douglas has some work to do before March 13 and the new league year.

They have some cuts to make space and could also restructure other contracts to make space.

Cutting Laken Tomlinson would clear $8.1 million.

Dealing with CJ Uzomah would free up another $5.3 million.

CJ Mosley ($21.5 million salary cap hit) and John Franklin Myers ($16.4 million) are candidates to restructure their contracts to free up cap space.