Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
Over the next few weeks, we're going to break down each position in terms of which players are fighting for those final roster spots. Who is in danger of being cut? Who has a chance to earn themselves a bigger role? We continue with a look at the safety position.
Probable roster locks
The plan for the safety position is the same as last year, with second-year players Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye re-assuming their starting roles. At least one of them was on the field for every single play in 2017, the pair combining to miss just 17 plays between them in the first 15 games.
However, Maye suffered an ankle injury in the final game of the season and the injury has continued to limit him over the spring. The Jets reportedly expect him to be ready in time for camp, but it remains to be seen whether his ankle issues will linger, requiring them to need cover. If both players are healthy, the rest of the safeties on the roster will compete for special teams work and to contribute in sub-packages.
In the competition
The Jets carried just two reserve safeties on their active roster last season: Terrence Brooks and Rontez Miles. They each saw regular playing time off the bench, mostly on passing downs as the Jets often operated out of a dime package with all four of their safeties on the field. After the season, Brooks re-signed and Miles was given a one-year restricted free agency tender.
Miles will be out three to four months after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus he suffered in the spring. The Jets moved quickly to bring in former Dallas Cowboys starter JJ Wilcox, a big hitter who can be reckless at times. He isn't as good of a special teamer as Miles, who led the NFL in solo tackles on special teams despite missing three games in 2017, however he has experience and would be an option to fill in as a starter in the event of an injury.
In 2016, undrafted rookie Doug Middleton showed a lot of promise, eventually earning a roster spot and some playing time down the stretch. He even scored a special teams touchdown, albeit on a freak play. Though missing all of last year due to injury, ESPN's Rich Cimini recently singled him out as a standout at this month's mandatory mini-camp, so perhaps he still has a good chance to challenge Wilcox for a role.
The long-shot here is Kacy Rodgers II, who lacks any NFL-level experience. He's the son of defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, although that relationship might be more likely to land him a coaching role in future than a roster spot at this time. In Canada, Rodgers played a lot of the time at cornerback, but he was a safety in college and has been listed as one by the Jets. He probably lacks the requisite athletic ability to be able to play the cornerback position at the NFL level.
Other potential contributors
Todd Bowles prepares everyone in his secondary to be able to play any defensive back role, so they may look to employ a cornerback at the safety position in the event of an injury crisis.
Jeremy Clark would probably be the most comfortable out of all the cornerbacks if required to play the safety position. While he ended his Michigan career at cornerback, the rangy Clark had one season as a starting safety and has the size and athleticism for a temporary deep safety role. However, his instincts at that position might be a concern if required to play there long term.
The other name to add to the mix is Miles. While he will likely begin the year on the PUP list, he should be healthy some time in October, so the Jets will be able to activate him during the season. That should add some valuable reinforcements to the special teams unit, as well as another potential contributor in sub-packages as Miles would presumably reprise his 2017 role.
Of course, activating Miles could cause one of the earlier names to go from being on the roster to seeing their job on the line.