The New York Jets had all kinds of struggles in the secondary this season, ranking just 22nd in the NFL in pass defense. The Jets are expected to release Antonio Cromartie this offseason, and although he could return at a lower price, the Jets would be better off making a move for a younger, more talented player at the position. Brent Grimes set the market for cornerbacks when he accepted a 4-year, $32 million deal from the Miami Dolphins yesterday, and no one other Aqib Talib should receive that kind of money. The Jets should be able to find an impact player at a reasonable price, and no fits that description better than Walter Thurmond.
Thurmond has been the Seattle Seahawks’ nickel corner the last few seasons, but Brandon Browner’s suspension opened up an opportunity for him to move into the starting lineup, where he was very impressive. Thurmond only played in 12 games this season, and most of the games he’s played for the Seahawks in his four year career were as a reserve, so his overall statistics are not too impressive. However, he ranked 7th in the NFL in yards allowed per coverage snap according to Pro Football Focus, which indicates a player that could become a star if given increased minutes.
The Seahawks are too smart a team to not realize what they have in Thurmond, but the Seahawks are also a team that doesn’t have a ton of cap space. They have major paydays coming for star players in the very near future (Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, etc.), which means that Thurmond is likely going to fall lower on their priority list. Thurmond will also come much cheaper than Talib, Alterraun Verner or Sam Shields on the open market.
Jets GM John Idzik is very familiar with Thurmond, as he had a hand in drafting him while with the Seahawks. Seattle has a couple other solid young corners in Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane, so the guess here is that they will choose not to retain Thurmond. Idzik knows him better than anyone outside Seattle, and the Jets should make him an offer. Thurmond is the type of physical, athletic corner who fits perfectly in the Jets’ scheme, and he has the potential to develop into a very good player. This signing would make a lot of sense from the Jets, and it would be long term upgrade of Cromartie. The Jets need to make smart free agent moves to build for the future, and Thurmond would be exactly that.