Having taken a look at the New York Jets offensive free agents, it is time to move onto the defensive side of the football. General manager Joe Douglas is going to have plenty of moves to make to build around Quinnen Williams and a returning C.J. Mosley. Not to mention, head coach Robert Saleh was hired from his defensive coordinator post with the San Francsico 49ers. As the team looks to move from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3, there are decisions to be made. Here is the outlook on each upcoming defensive free agent for the Jets.
2021 New York Jets Free Agents Breakdown: Defense
DT Trevon Coley (UFA)
One of Gang Green’s biggest strengths entering 2021 is going to be their defensive line. Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi, and John Franklin-Myers headline a young and very talented front that is strong against the run game. Behind them, players such as Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips, and more will be competing for depth spots. Trevon Coley has spent four seasons in the league and was claimed by the Jets off waivers in December. Coley makes for another depth option, but one that the Jets are not going to give a big deal to, as he has only started two games since starting 29 over his first two seasons in 2017 and 2018.
OLB Jordan Jenkins (UFA)
This time last year, it was a no brainer for the Jets to bring back Jordan Jenkins. He posted a career-high eight sacks and nine tackles for a loss in 2019 and came back on a one-year deal. Now, who knows if he returns. Jenkins started 12 games, but posted a career-low sack mark with two, and only had six quarterback hits. While he has never been known for being a pass rusher, the hope was he would raise his value as he hits the market again entering his age 27 season. Even though it is unlikely, if the price is right, maybe Jenkins returns for another run in gotham green.
OLB Tarell Basham (UFA)
Opposite of Jenkins was Tarell Basham, who started a career-high nine games in 2020. He had the best numbers of his career across the board, with 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 13 quarterback hits. Basham also graded out as the 19th best run defender among 109 qualifying edge rushers per PFF in 2020. The former third-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 made for a fantastic waiver wire pickup since 2018, and despite his penalty issues, could be back thanks to his edge setting ability.
OLB Frankie Luvu (ERFA)
Believe it or not, Frankie Luvu quietly had his most efficient season yet in 2020, with two sacks, a forced fumble, and 25 total tackles. The speed rusher from Washington State has proved his value as a situational pass rusher. Then again, as the Jets switch to a 4-3 scheme under Robert Saleh, Luvu’s size could leave him on the outside looking in.
MLB Neville Hewitt (UFA)
Originally signing with the Jets back in 2018 as a special team ace and depth linebacker, Neville Hewitt has blossomed into a solid starting linebacker. A tackling machine, Hewitt started every game this season, finishing with 134 tackles, six for a loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble. Hewitt plays a well-rounded game that saw him making plays all over the field last season. He will only be 28-years-old in 2021 and would be a great player to retain to play alongside C.J. Mosley.
MLB Patrick Onwuasor (UFA)
Patrick Onwuasor signed with the Jets hoping to bounce back alongside Mosley after a down 2019 season with the Baltimore Ravens. Instead, injuries kept him sidelined all but one game. Onwuasor has plenty of experience, and will certainly be at training camp, just maybe not in Florham Park, New Jersey.
MLB Bryce Hager (UFA)
A pickup in October who bounced between the roster and practice squad, Bryce Hager is set to hit the market. Hager was drafted in the seventh round in 2015 out of Baylor by the Los Angeles Rams. Entering his age 29 season with six years of experience, Hager is a special team’s defender above anything.
MLB Harvey Langi (UFA)
During the Jets 2-14 season, few players played as hard week in and week out as Harvey Langi. In his second season with the Jets, he started six of 14 games played, totaling 60 tackles. Langi is not a strong coverage linebacker, though is a strong special team and depth piece. His size offers versatility, and fans would definitely love to see number 44 back on the field next season.
CB Brian Poole (UFA)
After a career year in 2019, Brian Poole returned to the Jets on a one-year deal in 2020 to prove it was no fluke. The Florida product was having an even better season until shoulder surgery knocked him out the season. In nine games, Poole had seven pass deflections, two interceptions, and 44 total tackles. Poole even was the 11th highest graded cornerback in the league this past season. Without a doubt, Poole is a top slot cornerback in the league, and if numbers align, the Jets would love to have him back.
CB Arthur Maulet (UFA)
With all the injuries in the secondary over the past two seasons, few have stepped up the way Arthur Maulet has. He has lined up everywhere in the secondary, proving to be a phenomenal and versatile depth piece. Maulet put up 29 total tackles, five pass deflections, and a pick over 11 games (five starts) in 2020. Bringing him back on a cheap deal to add depth at cornerback would be a smart move by the Jets.
CB Bennett Jackson (ERFA)
Similarly, Bennett Jackson is another chess-piece in the secondary. He has never truly seen defensive snaps, primarily being a special teams player. This past season saw Jackson’s third stint with the Jets, having also spent time with the Ravens and New York Giants in between.
CB Kyron Brown (ERFA)
Kyron Brown is a former undrafted free agent out of Akron who has been floating around the Jets for a few years now. In 2019, Brown even started a game for Gang Green. Except in 2020, Brown spent the season on the physically unable to perform list.
S Marcus Maye (UFA)
Marcus Maye is New York’s top priority this off-season to bring back. Now out from Jamal Adams’ shadow, Maye played at a Pro Bowl level in 2020, with career-highs with 11 pass deflections, two sacks, and 88 tackles. Maye also had two interceptions on his way to earning the fifth-highest safety grade in the league. He will not be cheap, but the Jets must reach a long-term deal with Maye.
S Bradley McDougald (UFA)
Acquired in the Jamal Adams trade in the off-season, Bradley McDougald never found his footing this past season with the Jets. He was one of the lowest graded safeties in the league and only played in seven games. Chances are McDougald will not be a Jet come Week 1.
S Matthias Farley (UFA)
A backup safety over the past two seasons for the Jets, Matthias Farley posted 24 tackles and three pass deflections in 16 games this season. Farley has seen the majority of his snaps on special teams and is capable of playing either safety spot.
Last Word New York Jets Free Agents Breakdown: Defense
There is a lot of work to do on the defensive ball for the Jets this off-season. First, they must negotiate a long-term deal with their leader Marcus Maye, then Brian Poole. The team has a handful of depth pieces that are set to hit the market. Expect the team’s transition to a 4-3 defense under Saleh to play a major role in their personnel decisions.
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