J.J. Wilcox had a change of heart. After agreeing to a one-year deal with the 49ers on Tuesday morning, Wilcox has agreed in principle to a deal with the Jets, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).
Apparently, Wilcox decided that he wants to play for Jets head coach Todd Bowles. One source tells Schefter that the safety got “stage fright” after verbally agreeing to sign with San Francisco.
Wilcox, 27, was initially set to spend the 2017 season with the Buccaneers, but they shipped him to the Steelers after signing T.J. Ward in September. He played in 12 games with Pittsburgh, but he ultimately was unable to carve out a role in the secondary or on special teams. By the end of the year, he wound up as a healthy scratch due to his tendency to commit penalties while on special teams. All in all, he finished out with 12 tackles in 12 games.
Wilcox may have an easier path to the 53-man roster in New York than he would have had with the Niners. The Jets will start Jamal Adams at free safety with fellow rising sophomore Marcus Maye at strong safety, but after that things are fairly wide open with Terrence Brooks and Doug Middleton among those looking to lock down reserve jobs.
However, penalties and minor mistakes hurt the Jets last season, including a close loss against the Panthers in November. After the defeat, the Bowles stressed the importance of playing smarter. In keeping with that theme, Wilcox will have to reign in his playing style in order to avoid more yellow flags.
“There were about two or three plays where we had gone over things countless times that we should have known better, certain guys should have known better,” Bowles said (via USA Today). “And that’s a lack of concentration from a discipline standpoint and that has to get better.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.