The New York Jets made a pair of expected moves yesterday, re-signing cornerbacks Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls. Both players signed two year deals, with Lankster’s being worth $1.63 million and the value of Walls’ not yet known. Each player was a key role player for the Jets last season, and it is no surprise to see them return.
Lankster’s value is primarily as a special teamer, and he is a very good one. He serves on both kick coverage units and has done a very nice job as the gunner on punt teams over the last couple seasons. Lankster played sparingly on defense last year and that figures to be the case again this season. However, every team needs a special teams ace, and the Jets are happy to have theirs back.
Walls was the Jets’ No. 4 corner this season, but he was also the man who replaced Dee Milliner when the rookie was hurt or benched, which was quite often in the first half of the season. Walls had 20 tackles and 4 passes defensed in his limited time on the field, and he showed some promise. The Jets certainly do not want to go into the season with him in a starting role, but he has value as a reserve and is someone the Jets will continue to develop for the future.
The Jets also acquired cornerback Johnny Patrick on waivers from the San Diego Chargers, ensuring that the Jets will have plenty of depth in their secondary. Patrick is a former third round pick of the New Orleans Saints who has seen his three years in the NFL be marred by several injuries. If he can stay healthy, the Jets might have found a nice value pickup here.
These moves almost certainly spell the end of Isaiah Trufant’s time with Jets, which is not particularly surprising. Trufant has been a valuable special teamer, but at 31 years old it is time for the Jets to find a younger option. These moves also don’t bode well for Aaron Berry, who is an unrestricted free agent and coming off a torn ACL. It would be a surprise to see the Jets retain him.
These moves are strictly depth related, and the big news at corner for the Jets this offseason is still coming. None of these moves have much bearing on what the Jets will do with Antonio Cromartie, but at least the team knows the lower end of its cornerback depth chart is set.