It’s always easy to get caught up on bringing in veterans during the offseason. We all do it as fans, myself included.
The New York Jets made a bold decision this spring and summer, however, despite criticism from many supporters and media outlets — they were going to make a concerted effort to develop their youth. That meant starting rookies and second-year players at key positions, like nickelback.
In the modern-day NFL, the nickel DB is on the field a ton, and his responsibilities are more integral than ever before. Rookie Michael Carter II has been phenomenal in this role so far in 2021, but he was not the first choice of most fans.
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New Orleans Saints Release Brian Poole
Brian Poole was a solid free-agent pickup for the Jets during his tenure here. The slot-DB was one of the most consistent men in the secondary the past couple of seasons before an injury derailed his 2020 season.
In the end, Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh elected to draft his replacement in Carter, with Javelin Guidry also on the roster as a secondary option. That didn’t stop Gang Green nation from calling for his return up until the moment he signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Since then, Carter and Guidry have flourished into reliable defensive backs while Poole has dealt with more ailments, joining the Saints’ injured reserve. On October 12, New Orleans decided to release the veteran with an injury settlement according to reporter Nick Underhill.
Poole never ended up playing a game for NOLA, validating the Jets’ decision to roll with the youth. There will always be ups and downs with inexperienced players but vets aren’t foolproof either. Just look at how many NYJ signings have gotten injured in 2021.
Carl Lawson, Lamarcus Joyner, Vinny Curry, Jarrad Davis and Ronald Blair have all yet to play a full game. Joyner is the only one who’s even taken the field during the regular season and he didn’t make it through Week 1. Even now with the way the cornerbacks have been playing, some Jets fans are still pondering a Poole return.
It’s unclear whether Poole will play again in 2021, but his injury settlement with the Saints allows him to explore other options when healthy. We truly wish the former Jets nickelback the best and hope he finds a role somewhere soon, but with Carter and Guidry thriving in this defense, we’re all set for the time being.
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Who Else Did Gang Green Pass On?
Poole may have been the apple of the average fan’s eye, but there were other cornerbacks that Douglas passed on. Richard Sherman never seemed to reciprocate interest in a rebuilding team like the Jets but after his legal saga, the chances of New York signing him went from slim to none.
The other name that many loved was former Pittsburgh Steelers CB Steven Nelson. To be fair, he’s currently starting for the Philadelphia Eagles and performing well according to Pro Football Focus.
Nelson currently has a 73.0 overall and a 72.3 in coverage on PFF, which would be an improvement on Brandin Echols as of now. The greater point remains though — without reps, how can you determine which of these rookies are deserving of a long-term roster spot?
Saleh and Douglas will continue to build through the draft because that’s the way they believe a sustainable winner is constructed. It may require some more patience but there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel.