Exactly two months after the New York Jets gave their presser to conclude the 2012 season, it’s time to buckle those chin straps in the front-office and determine which unrestricted free agents would help the team in 2013. No one wants to use the term rebuilding, but that IS what that very distinct odor is emanating from Florham Park. Why couldn’t a player like Jason Campbell compete for a starting job next year? He’s got no chance to unseat Jay Cutler in Chicago, but he could help that team greatly as a backup. Matt Moore seems content to be a backup for Ryan Tannehill in Miami, signing a two year extension to stay with the Dolphins. Players like David Garrard and Brady Quinn are on the team’s radar as far as the quarterback position is concerned, but the Jets have needs… and their not just on offense!
The Jets were a horrible tackling team last season. Yards after contact came in bunches for opponents! One thing they did exceptionally well… cover! Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry made the ProBowl after good seasons in green and white; and along with Yeremiah Bell and Kyle Wilson, they were able to keep teams from lighting up the Jets secondary (for the most part). Kyle Wilson, normally the nickel back, started in place of the injured Darrelle Revis, who looks to be on his way out of New York. With Landry and Bell being free agents, and Revis being handed his hat, the Jets have suddenly become a team in need of defensive backs (Don’t forget, the Jets cut Eric Smith). Here’s a quick look at some recently released DBs who could impact the Jets the way Landry and Bell did in 2012.
Atari Bigby was released by the San Diego Chargers on Friday. Even though he had 79 tackles for the Chargers in 2012, a nagging groin injury landed the seven-year vet on injured reserve. Bigby played his first five seasons in Green Bay and started 33 games for the Packers. The 2006 season was clearly his best campaign, starting all 16 games, tallying 5 interceptions, forcing 3 fumbles, and finishing the year with 86 tackles. Bigby, a former Central Florida standout, will turn 32 years old in September.
Chris Gamble may not make it to his 30th birthday wearing Carolina blue, as reports have him being cut by the Panthers on Friday (Gamble’s birthday is Monday). He’s spent all nine of his NFL seasons in Carolina, and has been a mainstay in their secondary! Gamble has 27 interceptions and 508 tackles while forcing 4 fumbles during his time in Carolina. Some could blame the salary cap, or some could blame Gamble only making four starts in 2012.
If the name Dawan Landry rings a bell with Jets fans, it should. Dawan is two year older than “little” brother LaRon, and has had an impactful NFL career as well. He spent his first five seasons in Baltimore before joining the Jaguars in 2011. He’s started all 16 games in 5 of his last 6 seasons, hovering near or around 100 tackles in his last four. Dawan’s been a solid safety and will get a suitor or two with his resume, plus his 6’1” frame won’t hurt either.
I’m guessing Friday just wasn’t a good day to be a defensive back on Jacksonville’s roster. The Jaguars released veteran Aaron Ross, a player they signed to a three-year deal just last offseason. Ross played his first five seasons with the New York Giants, before bolting as a free agent. He’s got 10 career interceptions and 2 returns for touchdowns. I thought he was a little overrated out of the University of Texas, and he never really lived up to expectations with the Giants. The Jaguars found out the hard way, but it’s the NFL, where all a team needs to do is cut a player if and when it doesn’t work out.
After many great seasons in Arizona, it was exceptionally painful to see Adrian Wilson’s name on the cut list for Friday. He may not have what it takes to start anymore, but his 721 tackles, 87 passes defensed, 27 interceptions and 5 ProBowls in 12 seasons makes for an impressive addition to any team’s secondary. This former bird will land somewhere soon; could he end up in green and white in 2013? You know… if things continue to progress the way they have been, that number 24 might be available when he does land.
-Joseph Haas, Editor HCoftheNYJ.com
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