2020 Jets hope to kick off the new decade by snapping a nine-year playoff drought.
There was plenty of roster turnover this offseason, but the question remains: Does new necessarily mean better?
Tom Brady’s departure ostensibly gives hope to the rest of the AFC East, but will the Jets be the team to finally knock the Patriots off their perch as division rulers?
I’ll be revealing my Top 20 players on the roster every weekday for the next four weeks in the run-up to training camp.
This list is made up of the players who I believe will make the most impact for Adam Gase’s team this season. The ranking isn’t simply based on a player’s resume. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
So, we’re peering into our crystal ball and taking some leaps of faith. There’s some quality young talent on Gang Green’s roster. Some of those guys are poised to take their games to the next level.
Get ready for some surprises.
2019 ranking: 1
Age at the start of the season: 24
2020 salary cap charge: $7.17 million
Contract status: Fourth year of a 4-year, $22.26 million rookie deal (plus fifth-year option)
2019 Season in Review: Adams established himself as one of the league’s premier playmakers with a tour de force campaign in his first season in Gregg Williams’ defense. Part-safety, part-linebacker, part-edge rusher, Adams wrecked games in myriad ways en route to his first All-Pro berth.
Williams maximized Adams’ prodigious skillset by moving him all over the place. He was a nightmare on game days.
Adams was tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (10), pass deflections (7), quarterback hits (13) and forced fumbles (2). He led the Jets in solo tackles (61) and finished second in total tackles (75) and sacks (6 ½) despite missing the first two games of his career. Adams racked up 23 pressures, most among safeties since Pro Football Focus began tracking in 2006.
“He’s had a great year,” Gase said late last season. “He’s played as well as any player I’ve been around, consistently. Week in, week out, you never see a dip. It’s always elite level.”
From his highlight-reel strip and score off Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones to his three-sack effort against Washington, Adams was far and away the team’s most productive player. He flirted with the single-season record for sacks by a safety before falling short due to a late-season ankle injury that ended his consecutive starts streak at 44 games.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. Adams voiced his displeasure upon learning that the Jets engaged in trade discussions involving him before the trade deadline.
“Jamal is an amazing player,” general manager Joe Douglas said. “We saw what he did all year, but really when we deployed him, he was such a factor as a pass rusher around the box. He did so many good things. His leadership … he was voted team MVP by his peers. He’s a special guy.”
2020 Outlook: Adams has earned a spot on the Daily News Top 20 mountaintop for a second consecutive season, but one giant question remains: When will he get paid what he deserves?
The Daily News reported last month that Adams asked the team for permission to seek a trade after an unproductive offseason of extension discussions. However, the team had not given him the green light to line up potential trades.
A fractured line of communication contributed to mistrust.
The two-time Pro Bowler declined to participate in the team’s voluntary virtual offseason program as he awaited a contract extension before his frustration bubbled to the surface on social media.
“Jamal is an unbelievable player,” Douglas said this offseason. “We’re excited about Jamal. The plan is for Jamal to be a Jet for life.”
Actions, of course, speak much louder than words.
Adams isn’t particularly pleased by the organization’s lack of action to this point. He’s scheduled to make $3.6 million in the final year of his rookie contract, but has made it clear that he’s not happy with the current state of affairs regarding his deal.
The News also reported last month that Gase is a major factor why Adams has felt uncomfortable with his long-term future with the team and requested a trade.
Although Douglas’ public stance is that he wants Adams to remain with the team for the rest of eternity, there was no indication in the first five months of the calendar year that team decision makers are actually in a hurry to make that happen.
The Jets predictably picked up Adams’ fifth-year option this offseason. The team also could place the franchise tag on the player in 2022 and 2023.
If the Jets are a meritocracy, this is the ultimate no-brainer: Nobody deserves to get paid more than Adams. (C.J. Mosley will make a team-high $16 million in 2020).
On a team devoid of true impact players, the Jets are venturing into dangerous territory with their best player, who has made it clear that he wants to move on absent a good-faith effort by the team to pay him what he has earned.
No. 20: P Braden Mann
No. 19: DL Foley Fatukasi
No. 18: WR Denzel Mims
No. 17: DL Kyle Phillips
No. 16: DL Steve McLendon
No. 15: DL Henry Anderson
No. 14: CB Pierre Desir
No. 13: CB Brian Poole
No. 12: WR Breshad Perriman
No. 11: C Connor McGovern
No. 10: S Marcus Maye
No. 9: OLB Jordan Jenkins
No. 8: OT Mekhi Becton
No. 7 TE Chris Herndon
No. 6: WR Jamison Crowder
No. 5: Le’Veon Bell
No. 4: DL Quinnen Williams
No. 3: C.J. Mosley
No. 2: QB Sam Darnold