The Jets biggest signing to address line play was guard, James Carpenter. After that, and the trade for Brandon Marshall and splurging on the cornerback market, the Jets shifted their attention to adding depth along the lines on both sides of the ball.
So far they have added offensive lineman James Brewer (spent the last four seasons in North New Jersey with the New York Giants), tackle Corey Hillard ( spent his first two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and the last six with the Detroit Lions) and brought Willie Colon back.
Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson will obviously be starters and unless the Jets draft a tackle in the first round (like La’el Collins) it’s likely that Breno Giacomini will be the starting right tackle but the two guard spots are more of a toss up. Oday Aboushi looked good last year, after he took over for Brian Winters, and with the contract Carpenter signed he’s clearly a front-runner for the other guard spot. But the Jets continue to stress competition and to suggest that either Carpenter or Aboushi are locked in as starters seems like a stretch.
Brewer and Hillard have only played sparingly as they have both been career backups, Brewer only started eight games in his four year career and Hillard only 12 games in his eight year career, but the Jets still have a bunch of young offensive line bodies left over from the last regime that could contribute. Like Dakota Dozier, Dalton Freeman, Wesley Johnson, Brent Qvale, Winters and Sean Hooey (who the Jets signed to a futures contract earlier this offseason.
Obviously with some of the new additions some of the players left over from very short Idzik era will likely have to find a new team as the Jets work their way through cuts but Dozier clearly has potential, the new regime is fond of Freeman and even though Winters has struggled mightily his first two years it’s not beyond the possibility that he could turn things around this season.
The Jets haven’t been able to clearly upgrade the starting talent on the offensive line much, Carpenter is an upgrade over Colon if he can stay healthy but also not as much of an upgrade as they would have liked, but they have certainly upgraded the depth and created a much more fierce competition for those two starting guard jobs.
On the defensive line the Jets didn’t need to worry about upgrading their starters. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison make for as good a starting front-three as there is in this league, and being able to mix in some Quentin Coples into that rotation should only help everyone, but the Jets did want to get deeper on the line and they have done just that.
They lost Kendrick Ellis, which was expected, but they have added Kevin Vickerson (played 10 years with the Dolphins, Titans, Broncos and Chiefs), Ronald Talley (who Todd Bowles knew from their time in Arizona) and just today they signed defensive end Stephen Bowen (nine-year veteran, first five seasons in Dallas and the past four in Washington).
Bowen has played at a really high-level at points in his career, as has Vickerson (most notably two years ago with the Broncos) and Vickerson also has the ability to play inside as a defensive tackle or slide outside as an end.
To add these guys to a line that already has Harrison and T.J. Barnes as inside defensive tackles and the versatility of Wilkerson, Richardson and Coples who can line up inside or outside will make it easy for Bowles to mess with the minds of quarterbacks by mixing and matching from such a deep group.
If the Jets still feel they need to find more starting quality players, on the offensive line, they will likely have to address that in the draft or wait to see what cap casualties eventually become available (someone like Evan Mathis), but they have clearly had success in adding depth in the trenches.