What do the Jets need via NFL free agency and the draft in 2018? Two words: almost everything.
In their fourth year together, general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles face the biggest stage yet in New York’s rebuilding process. The offense needs an overhaul, while the defense will need replacements at core positions on every level.
Although this screams that the Colts need to think about Notre Dame’s Quinton Nelson, the draft’s best offensive lineman, with Mewhort and inside backup Mike Person as free agents, the team could use at least one seasoned fix. The Patriots’ Cameron Fleming would solve the Good/Clark problem. The Steelers’ Chris Hubbard could start either at right tackle or one of the guard spots.
If the Colts want to move on from Mewhort, the Panthers’ Andrew Norwell, free agency’s best offensive lineman, would be a terrific get for left guard and Marcus Foligno Youth jersey somebody they can easily afford. The Titans’ Josh Kline and the Bears’ Josh Sitton could start at either guard spot.
Going from a three-man front to a four-man front is always tough, because the makeup of this particular position changes. The Colts now need ends who can edge rush again, long removed from the days of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis going after the quarterback.
Indianapolis had only 25 sacks in 2017, with outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard recording a team-high 5 1/2. The good news is Sheard is better built to play end, so he should have a more natural transition. Strongside linebacker John Simon, however, will need to stay where he is as a run-stuffer. And behind both, Barkevious Mingo is a free agent.
Since being acquired from the Chicago Bulls last summer, the All-Star swingman has given Tom Thibodeau’s team a hardworking swagger that has brought it to the precipice of the organization’s first playoff berth in 13 seasons. However, as the Timberwolves continue their most daunting stretch of the season — tonight will be the second of eight consecutive games against teams above .500 — they’re being forced to readjust to life without Butler, who went down with a meniscus injury in the first game after the All-Star break and is expected to miss four to six weeks following surgery.
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That puts the priority on getting guys to fill out the 3-4 end rotation for Bowles. The Bears’ Mitch Unrein and the Titans’ DaQuan Jones, pending free agents, played in that base scheme last season.
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In the draft, Washington’s Vita Vea is yet another non-skill consideration for either the No. 6 pick or a slight trade back. Because of Williams’ presence, the Jets could also be OK waiting until Day 2 or 3, as Virginia’s Andrew Brown and Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand both could serve them well.