The most volatile position group on the New York Jets roster comes at the safety position.
One of several players could end up starting on the backend of the defense but right now the penciled-in starter is veteran Lamarcus Joyner. He was the starter in Week 1 last season before he went down with a torn triceps and missed the year.
However, one recent projection has him going from the starting lineup to the streets after a surprising release.
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Sizzling Hot Take
Robby Sabo of Jets X-Factor recently put on his prediction hat and provided an early July version of his 53-man roster projections.
The most stunning of his prognostications came when he predicted that Joyner would be one of the “toughest cuts” for the Jets ahead of the season.
“The final spot [at safety] will likely come down to Joyner and Elijah Riley, and although the former is much more talented than the latter, age and the overall feel of this roster suggests Riley will get the nod. Plus, Joyner isn’t the most dependable player at this stage of his career. He must first prove he can stay healthy.”
The 31-year-old (who will turn 32 in the middle of the 2022 season) hasn’t been dependable from a health standpoint.
In his eight-year career to date, Joyner has only successfully played a full season once (back in 2015), he is heading into his ninth campaign.
Also, it is worth noting that Joyner started his career as a safety with the Los Angeles Rams. He left the team in 2019 to join the Las Vegas Raiders. During his two-year stint with the silver and black, Joyner changed positions becoming a slot corner.
The veteran struggled with that transition and after signing with the Jets returned to his natural position at safety. However he hasn’t played the position in years, is an aging player, and is coming off of a serious injury.
When you collect all of that together it is hard to rely on Joyner to be a lockdown starter, but in Sabo’s projections, he doesn’t even make the cut as a depth piece on the roster.
Rebuilt Secondary Can Only Help
Whoever ends up starting at safety alongside Jordan Whitehead is going to be in a much better place in 2022.
In 2021 the entire secondary was littered with inexperienced players learning on the fly. At times the youthfulness benefitted the green and white, but more times than not it cost them.
Fast forward a year later and they’ll have three new starters in the secondary with Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and DJ Reed Jr on the outside at cornerback. Throw in the aforementioned Whitehead at safety and you instantly add some star power, Super Bowl history, and some much-needed experience.
That level of talent should be able to raise the play of the perceived weakest link (Joyner at safety or whoever else wins the job).
Without a doubt that will be one of the most interesting roster competitions as we head into training camp. Not only is a starting gig up for grabs, but the depth spots are going to be a feisty battle to the end.