Free Agency Focus: Ranking the best values at safety

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the next few days, we’ll be revisiting a few key positions in which the Jets might invest during the free agency period.  Here’s a look at the players who the Jets might be interested in with the initial period of free agency beginning Saturday morning.

Below are our non-scientific rankings of players we think can come to the Jets and most impact the team per dollar spent.  Consider them a “bang for the buck” type ranking system.

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers1) Donte Whitner (SF) — “Hitner” has been one of the most violent safeties in the game with some massive hits, most recently playing clean up with one of the best defenses in the league.  Whitner has plus run-stuffing skills but his ballhawking and coverage is some of the best in the league.  At age 28, Whitner will still be looking for a good pay day ($6-8 million APY), but his skillset looks like the right type for what the Jets need most in their secondary.  We’re sure playing in San Francisco might set the bar high for Whitner in terms of getting a contract and playing for a contender, but a player of his skill could be the missing piece for a team like the Jets.

2) Ed Reed (NYJ) — I know that some will hate that he’s ranked here, but on a “bang for your buck” it’s hard to beat league minimum for a slowing down but still future Hall of Famer.  Reed had a few botched plays that might have soured fans on his ability to contribute, but Reed was getting better over the final few weeks and might be a reasonable, cheap and known commodity for Rex Ryan and John Idzik to bring back. Even if it might not be a popular move, Reed still has some football left in him before he hangs up his cleats.  If Reed were to return to New York, expect a very light or even minimum level deal.

3) Jairus Byrd (BUF) — Byrd is my favorite player in this free agent class at any position, but he is going to ride his status to one helluva payday.  Byrd is an instinctual playmaker with some of the best coverage skills in the league.  The former Bill has great ballhawking skills and it is extremely rare to see players this good reach free agency.  While he holds up against the run, he is at his best in coverage. Byrd is rumored to be looking for $10 million annually.  Rex Ryan has historically devalued safeties since joining the Jets so adding a player like Byrd would be like getting in a Gallardo after driving a minivan for five years.   Expect many teams to make inquiries and compete for his services.

4) T.J. Ward (CLE) — Ward is at his absolute best as an extra run-stuffer but he has enough versatility to drop in coverage.  Ryan covets safeties with the ability to do both well and Ward would be a fine fit for a Ryan scheme.  Ward won’t garner the same type of contract as Byrd, but it might not be far ($7-9 million APY) off.

5) Chris Clemons (MIA) — Clemons has been a solid journeyman and seems unable to get the long-term deal he’d prefer.  While he’s not a long-term fit for the Jets, he’s much better suited in coverage than in against the run … not a problem for a Jets team that has Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett already under contract.

6) Louis Delmas (DET) — Delmas might have injury and durability issues that will cause teams to balk at large or long-term deals, but he would be in the same mold as Clemons in that he’s best suited in a coverage role.  It’s not an optimal fit for Rex Ryan in that he lacks the desired versatility, but he better rounds out the group.

7) Michael Mitchell (CAR) —  Mitchell fit well in Ron Rivera’s Carolina defense and while he wasn’t a playmaker, he certainly was a competent fit to the Panthers system.  Mitchell is a well rounded safety who can hold up fairly in coverage. Mitchell wouldn’t be expensive and could plug a hole for the Jets while they work out a long-term solution.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

8) Kendrick Lewis (KC) — Lewis is only 25 and he’s already started 56 games.  He also would be familiar with some of the Ryan system seeing that he just played for Jets former linebackers coach Bob Sutton in 2013.  While Lewis has been buried on a historically bad Chiefs team for much of his career, he hasn’t shone as the complementary piece to Eric Berry.  Lewis wouldn’t cost a lot, but any interest in Lewis by the Jets would be the result of some serious film work and a projection to his fit in the Jets system.

9) Malcolm Jenkins (NO) — Jenkins is a liability and even at a miminum level deal wouldn’t be the fit the Jets need or be worth the investment.

10) Nate Allen (PHI) — Allen might have drowned in a bad Eagles secondary but even his individual play didn’t stand out in any way that would make me want the Jets to pursue him.  Allen seems like a bad fit for the Jets, even if was at a reasonable price.

11) Antoine Bethea (IND) — Bethea will likely earn more based on his name than on his play in recent years.  While he’s known as a coverage safety, he’s been wildly inconsistent and would be a poor investment on the Jets part.




48 comments
bob
bob

Im gonna take all six safetys listed above........ Daaaaaattss right!..........how do ya like dat one.

jvsvn
jvsvn

A lot of discussion about "fit for the scheme" but the "scheme" got continually burned in coverage last year. Seems to me that the scheme needs to be tweeked and they need to bring a guy or two with better coverage skills.

jdawggg
jdawggg

Why so down on Bethea?  He's an OK coverage safety and is a very good tackler.  He's not Byrd, but I don't think he's going to get half as much $ either.  I see him as a reasonable signing to upgrade the position, of course depending on the price. 

Matt Kelly
Matt Kelly

I'm all about bringing Ed Reed back personally - i really didnt think he played that poorly this year.    He had a few bad plays - and yes they were BAD - but when you factor in the cost of signing him, i think he was worth the money we signed him for and then some


j3tsfan29
j3tsfan29

Byrd or bust!!! Glad we are retaining cumby!!!

bradysucks
bradysucks

Boars Head makes cheddar cheese flavored with horseradish. I just put a few slices on some Boars Head London Broil Roast Beef and made a sandwich for lunch. Holy craaap! Horseradish is some crazy stuff. My sinuses have been INCiNERATED! My nose has a fire in it and I am breathing SO clearly through it - WOW

I think horseradish before games should be the official food of the NY Jets!

We need to give Geno some of this stuff before games to wake his mind up so he doesn't throw so many interceptions. Give some to Sanchez at every meal and between snaps. OMG!

I think this stuff could cure our terrible QB's of their BRAIN FOG :)

:)

greggreen
greggreen

I feel like we need a above average corner more than a safety. I have been begging for a True free safety since rhodes left but all signs point to the rex ryan system not needing one. reed was playing fine once his role was reduced. We should go after shields or verner or munnerlyn to replace cro. Our secondary looked so bad because we were starting the worst and 3rd worst corners in the game. Let milner keep improving but move on from Cro, with a decent replacement our secondary will greatly improve. 

williamg1
williamg1

Schefter:

Saints officially are releasing WR Lance Moore today, per source.

Bent
Bent moderator

My 49ers source says that Whitner was good last year, but the downside is that he kept getting nailed with penalties despite clean hits.  I'd imagine that problem would be magnified if he was a Jet.  Take away his ability to hit people and what are you left with?


Bring back Reed.

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

Reed will be 36 in September and needs to be timed with an hour glass. If you want to bring him back for his influence / game smarts, make it as a coach. Sorry, but It's all about consistent on the field performance for me and not about "gee, the guy made one good play in 16 games with the season over for most teams."

As far as I'm concerned, bring in a Kendrick Lewis-type at modest price (if he fits in Rex's system) and see if Rex can make him shine. Then draft someone in the mid-rounds to develop. - I'm also a big Allen fan and hope he gets more playing time.

williamg1
williamg1

I can't see the Jets shipping Revis out because he's too expensive, and then signing a safety for $10 million a year. 

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

Would love Whitner but Reed is the better value.


I'd probably pull the trigger on Whitner if it was 6m and structured favorably for the Jets.

a57se
a57se

My message to the ID?

Just Bring back Reed.

Marvel
Marvel

@Brendan  

also said might be another signing on the horizon..

a57se
a57se

@bradysucks  

Love the Horseradish Cheddar..... miss the Italian Roast Beef.

Take a nice hero, melt some butter and garlic sauce on it, pile on some italian RB and some Horseradish Cheddar layered between the RB, then pop the sandwich in the toaster oven or reg. oven, get a good melt of the cheese and you have one of my favorite sandwiches......

bradysucks
bradysucks

Re-signing Ed Reed is a NO BRAINER. With a full pre-season he will thrive in Rex's defense!

I think the Jets should also try and sign Whitner and I disagree that Whitner's big hitting style will hurt the team. Laron Landry was a HUGE hitter and made the pro bowl with the Jets and did just great. Since Ed Reed is no longer an every down player it would make sense to sign both Whitner and Reed if possible and use a safety rotation of Reed, Whitner & Antonio Allen

williamg1
williamg1

@frustjetfn  I don't think its a coincidence that Milliner's game improved when Reed came on board. I'm pretty happy with the safety position as is, and Reed brings the smarts and swagger that the young safeties may need. 

bradysucks
bradysucks

Would love BOTH Reed & Whitner. The Jets have the money to do it. Byrd is too expensive.

Best case is we sign Reed & Cromartie cheap and give Whitner a decent contract.

Starting secondary

Cromartie

Wilson

Millner

Reed (or Allen)

Whitner

Let me dream

Brian Bassett
Brian Bassett moderator

@a57se  He's certainly going to come cheap ... but do the Jets need to be stingy this year?

bradysucks
bradysucks

Horseradish is no joke! Give it to our QB's......May it awaken their tiny minds and allow them to read an NFL defense so they throw it to guys in green

I think the Jets QB's should be put on a wasabi and horseradish diet

Jalepenos for breakfast (lol)

By the way....sounds delicious

Sanchez needs to put some horseradish on those hot dogs he eats between snaps - maybe if he does he'll throw an accurate screen pass

Bent
Bent moderator

@bradysucks  That strengthens my point.  Landry had multiple questionable penalties called on him.  He also priced himself out of the Jets' range by getting unjustifiably voted to the Pro Bowl despite a season that featured plenty of mistakes because he kept gambling to try and make impact plays.

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@Disgruntled Jets Fan @frustjetfnJust the opposite. It's an factual assessment colloquially expressed. Except for a minute percentage of plays Reed had very little impact and most analysts were declaring his career over before those few plays  In fact, the ONLY positive they could cite was the intangible impact his influence might have had on younger players. At 36 he's no where near the player he was and the only thing that can be gotten from him in the waning days of a notable career is spot duty at the expense of up and coming younger players and game knowledge of how to handle certain stress situations. That can be valuable, but not at the cost of an active roster spot IMO.

To be fair, in the 14 games he played in 2013, he had 13 tackles and 3 Int's in 7 games with the Jets v. 14 tackles and 0 Int's in 7 games with Houston. So there are a  million questions: who he played against? was it the system? why was he only effective less then half a year? how much will be left in the tank in yet another year? who might benefit more from the playing time devoted to him? In Parcell's talk he's clearly a "hold the fort guy" now after a HOF career. I guess I always favor up-and-coming talent on my roster v. someone hanging on. If we had all young guys on our team with no other vets, I'd say OK but we have enough experienced guys on our D. 

Note: If he were our lifetime contributor who spent his whole career battling for this team I might make an exception, but in this case it's "how high a level can you perform at now and at what opportunity cost?"

a57se
a57se

@Brian Bassett @a57se 

Cheap? I would think $3 to $4 Million for Mr. Reed...........and a 2-year deal. I'd be really surprised if he took less than that.

Brendan
Brendan

@Brian Bassett Always. I honestly think Allen is on the verge of being an above-average starter. The TO's/game went way up with Reed's presence last year, and Bush was attached to his hip in meetings/practice. 


Bring back Reed, go with Reed/Allen/Bush/Miles/Jarrett and maybe Landry, spend money on CB and see if the youngin's at safety can step it up. 


I honestly think paying Byrd $10-$12 mil a year will be a misfire. He's very good, but is it really going to change the defense that much more than if Reed was leading the parade of young & promising players? Reed at close to a minimum deal vs. Byrd for $10-$12 mil? I'll take Reed. 

a57se
a57se

@bradysucks  

If you really wanna go crazy, layer the Roast Beef with sliced up Italian Sausage and Mozz.........throw a little onion and pepper on it........Mama Mia.

bradysucks
bradysucks

Whitner did pretty well with the 49ers....He'd be fine with the Jets

I like him

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se He's going to be 36 around Week 1, he was just cut from a big-money deal. No one is paying him multiple millions like that. You can argue this if you'd like, but we'll know soon enough do you really want to be on the side that says "36 year old Ed Reed is going to make $4ish million next year"? 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

and I see nothing out there that disagrees with it. It is pure speculation just like your disagreement.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Sorry, I thought you said $4-$5. Either way, you seriously think teams are going to pay him 80% of what Houston signed him to? I see nothing out there to support that idea. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

The Texans APY was $5 million....I said $3 to $4 million.......so, NO I don;t think teams will sign him to the same APY the Texans did.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se He played for a minimum deal with the Jets, for "Uncle Rex." He's an old player who relies on his football IQ. You seriously think a team is going to sign him for almost the same amount APY that the Texans just signed him to? 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

The point was Reed was payed a heck of a lot more than the minimum last season in total. I doubt if he would all of the sudden accept the Vet. Min.....I would think that would be an insult to a player of his stature.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I saw your edit.


http://overthecap.com/should-the-texans-release-ed-reed/


What you're linking to was money already paid to Reed. That's not what you were asking about (or at least it didn't seem that way) originally. When Reed was cut, he got a single payment from the Texans for his remaining guaranteed salary, and then the Jets signed him. 


Remember, claiming him off Waivers would've absolved Houston of that final payment, but the Jets smartly waited it out. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

Wrong, read the piece I linked to...you may have to refresh your browser as I edited my comment to include it....Reed received about $5 million from the Texans....

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se  He was paid a single payment of $412k (or so), his base salary for the remainder of the year when he was cut . More than half of his weekly pay last year was unguaranteed bonuses for dressing each week, so he lost those when he was cut.


So, he got less than a million between the Jets and Texans once he was cut. 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se What are you basing this on? He signed on to a base $940k deal with the Jets. His days of a big money deal are over, no? 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @Brian Bassett 

We took a real interest in Dezmen Southward as Tim Macdonald was sent specifically to work him out....he is a Safety but some think he could pay corner as well.....sounds a little like Josh bush when we showed a lot of interest in him and he had similar traits.....