The New York Jets lost all three of their top safeties from last season, and they are trying to rebuild the position. The Jets have held out hope that one of their young players can take over the starting free safety job, as Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush have been in a three-way battle for the position all offseason.
Bush is the best cover man of the group and was thought to be the early front runner. However, the team has hardly given him a look in the preseason, and Allen and Jarrett are in a close battle for the starting job. Allen has yet to do anything to speak of to impress coaches, and he doesn’t look like a starting-caliber player.
Jarrett was given the start for the Jets Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars following a run of good practices and a solid performance in the first preseason game. However, Jarrett failed to make any impact on the game, recording just one tackle despite playing the vast majority of the defensive snaps.
With the ineffectiveness of their three young players, the Jets must now consider other options. At this point in the summer, the free agent market is very thin, but the Jets still need to look for a veteran safety. Rex Ryan‘s defense requires a free safety that can handle center field, as well as cover tight ends one-on-one. Starting strong safety Dawan Landry is a run stopper, so the Jets need to find a cover man to put next to him.
At this point, the Jets have three main options still available on the market: Quintin Mikell, Kerry Rhodes and Madieu Williams. Mikell is probably the best overall player of the group, and he is a two-time All-Pro who has had a very good career. However, he is soon to be 33, and the St. Louis Rams released him earlier this offseason. Mikell is in the latter stages of his career, but he can still contribute. However, he has repeatedly been linked to the Carolina Panthers, meaning he could be difficult to sign.
Rhodes is, of course, a former Jet, and he remains on the market despite having a solid season last year. Rhodes is a solid coverage player, and he could bring experience and stability to the back of the Jets’ secondary. However, Ryan ripped Rhodes following his trade to the Arizona Cardinals, calling him selfish and lazy. It is unclear if the two have made any attempt to repair their relationship or would have any desire to work together.
That leaves Williams, who is in my opinion the best choice for the Jets. Like Mikell and Rhodes, Williams is over 30, but the Jets are not looking for a long-term option here. Williams was a solid player for the Washington Redskins last season, and he is the best coverage safety available on the market. Additionally, Williams would probably be the cheapest of the three, which is important for the cap-strapped Jets. Williams would be able to come in and contribute right away, allowing the Jets to develop their young safeties without jeopardizing their secondary play this season.
Any of these three safeties would be a huge upgrade over Allen and Jarrett at the free safety position, which appears to be the weakest on the entire defense. None of the young safeties are potential stars and none of the vets will be particularly expensive, so there is absolutely no reason that the Jets shouldn’t try to get a deal done for some veteran safety help.
New York Jets Need to Sign a Veteran Safety