Over the next few weeks we will be looking at each position on the New York Jets roster and seeking your input on who you think should stay and who you think should go. Up next, the Jets safeties.
Overview: The safety battery for the Jets benefitted from an overhaul to not only its unit, but to that of the closely associated cornerback position. Overall, the two groups played excellent opportunistic football, fairing with far better numbers than they posted in 2014. In 2015, the Jets corralled 18 interceptions, eclipsing the New York Jets team total of 13 total turnovers (only seven INTs) in 2014.
Calvin Pryor played a strong season alongside Marcus Gilchrist, a free agent who came over from the Chargers on a contract that was structured as a year-by-year deal. Despite numerous injuries to the Jets at the safety spot, the group soldiered on thanks to solid play from Pryor and Gilchrist.
Expected to Return (5)
Pryor, age 23
Gilchrist, age 27
Dion Bailey, age 23
Rontez Miles, age 27
Ronald Martin, age 22
Reaction: Overall this is a very young group, but one which could benefit from improvement in personnel who excel at covering the pass. Pryor impressed in his sophomore season after a rough rookie year under Rex Ryan. Coach Bowles put Pryor more in a position to succeed than Ryan had and the difference was notable. I expect that Gilchrist will return, but he does have a juicy salary cap savings ($3.75M for a pre-June 1 cut, $5.0M for a post-June 1 cut) that the Jets might want to avail themselves of should they get their back to the salary cap wall. With Miles and Martin under contract, there's little reason to let them do anything but compete for jobs in camp. Bailey could be the dark horse of this group as a potential starter should the team actually cut Gilchrist. Bailey played a limited role in 2015 but graded out well in coverage against Miami in Week 4 and Jacksonville in Week 9. Bailey has good agility and average speed as demonstrated by his Mockdraftable spider graph.
On the bubble (2)
Jaiquawn Jarrett, age 26 (pending free agent)
Antonio Allen, age 27 (pending free agent)
Reaction: As noted above, Gilchrist could be argued to be placed into this group along with Jarrett and Allen, but based on the former Charger's play in 2015, the Jets might have the luxury to extend his pay-as-you-go contract through 2016. Allen injured his Achilles tendon during training camp and was placed on IR before the Jets even cleared training camp. Jarrett went to injured reserve in October but only had played 13 defensive snaps before he did.