Bradin Echols, Michael Carter II, Ashtyn Davis, Bryce Hall, Will Parks.
These were members of your New York Jets secondary this past season. Aide from the six-year vet Parks – a nomad since Denver drafted him – it is a collection of basically first and second-year players. Soon after head coach Robert Saleh was hired, there was plenty of chatter about brining ex-49er and ex-All Pro Richard Sherman on board. But Sherman showed how his skills have slowed with his play with Tampa Bay this season.
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That may be a major reason why the unit hovered all last season near the bottom of the league’s secondary and overall pass defense rankings.
The Jets also have to decide to sign team captain safety Marcus Maye or let him walk away in free agency.
Since 1970, the Jets have struggled to piece together a cohesive and productive unit. They have had the individual standouts through the years.
Steve Tannen was a top pick in 1970 and was an effective corner and punter. There have been others like Aaron Glenn, Burgess Owens, and Ray Mickens to the duds like Earlie Thomas, Roscoe Word, and Rich Sowells.
Darrell Revis and Antonio Cromartie may have been the best in the league as well as in franchise history. The last year they were both productive was 2015.
For the last six years, former Jet Jamal Adams was the lone game-changing player in the secondary.
Jets’ GM Joe Douglas has roughly $50 million in cap space and the fourth and 1th pick overall as well as two more picks in the first 38. The Jets may go the pass rusher or lineman route among their first two picks, but a corner or safety isn’t a bad route.
They should have a legitimate shot at drafting either LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. or Washington’s Trent McDuffie among the first 10 picks. That would give them a further young secondary to watch grow.
Or the Jets could invest in New England’s J.C. Jackson or Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore as big ticket items or go a lesser route with Pittsburgh’s Steven Nelson or the Rams’ Darius Williams. There are other options.
The Jets tried going with the big-name corner when they inked Rams’ corner Trumaine Johnson to a five-year, $72 million deal in 2018. It appeared to be a major solution to their issue.
But Johnson flopped after two seasons, and the Jets went back to square one.
The Jets’ kiddie corners improved with time over last season, and Hall and Echols could be the answer. Davis was highly touted, but he still hasn’t lived up to his expectations at safety.
Free agency begins on March 16, and Douglas will need to get everything in motion. The draft will be five weeks away.
It will get interesting, but the Jets needed to seal a needed corner of their foundation.