The Jets signed former Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead early in free agency this offseason, hoping to pair him with last year’s free agent addition Lamarcus Joyner. They’ll depend on Whitehead to provide some consistency and a winning-pedigree to a position group that lacked both last season, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.
Last year saw a revolving door at the safety position for New York. Joyner didn’t get the opportunity to help improve the group after suffering a Week 1 injury that would hold him out for the rest of the year. Marcus Maye, now with the Saints, also saw an early injury end his season after only appearing in six games. This left the Jets to rely on backups and depth players. Ashtyn Davis and Elijah Riley holdover from last year’s roster as the two safeties who started the most games last year, while reserves like Adrian Colbert, Jarrod Wilson, and Will Parks found themselves starting games for the Jets at some point during the season.
Now with a healthy Joyner and the newly-signed Whitehead, New York hopes to have a strong starting duo with last year’s starters, Davis and Riley, serving as experienced backups.
Here are a few other notes from Costello’s roster breakdown:
- New York rewarded the recent efforts of defensive end John Franklin-Myers with a midseason four-year, $55MM extension last season. Costello points out that the structure of the contract allows the Jets to move on from Franklin-Myers fairly easily if the deal doesn’t pan out, but the team is set up for the fifth-year defender to succeed in perhaps the best situation of his career. Franklin-Myers strength lies in his rush defense. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 11th best run-defender out of 108 edge defenders (subscription required), but he didn’t disappoint in the pass rush either, grading out at 30th. The addition of a healthy Carl Lawson should help take some attention off of Franklin-Myers, but there’s another way he can see a bit more success rushing the passer. Franklin-Myers has shown a valuable versatility in playing both inside and outside on the defensive line with the Jets liking to utilize him on the inside to exploit mismatches against guards. With the selection of rookie Jermaine Johnson II in the first round this offseason, the Jets can have Franklin-Myers and Lawson start in normal packages then bring in Johnson on passing downs and shift Franklin-Myers inside. This way you get the benefit of Franklin-Myers well-rounded play every down and can utilize the team’s best three pass rushers on passing downs.
- After a season that saw him earn first-team All-Pro honors as a return man, wide receiver Braxton Berrios was rewarded with a two-year, $12MM extension. There’s no question that he’ll return next year as the team’s primary returner on both punts and kickoffs, but he may also see an increase in his usage on offense, too, according to Costello. Working behind Jamison Crowder in the slot, Berrios recorded 46 receptions for 431 yards and two touchdowns, adding 40 yards and two more touchdowns in the rushing game on seven carries. Despite the departure of Crowder, Berrios still sits at fourth on the depth chart behind Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and rookie Garrett Wilson. Berrios will once again be the first slot receiver off the bench behind Moore, but he’s shown the ability to play outside throughout his career, as well, and may be the preferred option as an outside replacement over Denzel Mims or Jeff Smith. Berrios also showed potential and ability last year on end-arounds and trick plays, giving the Jets even more excuses to get him on the field. In his fifth year out of Miami (FL), Berrios will look to build off his chemistry with quarterback Zach Wilson and reward the Jets for their dedication to him.