People outside the New York Jets organization were pleasantly surprised by the outstanding play of their cornerback group.
A group that lacked experience and star power overcame the odds and performed admirably throughout the 2021 campaign. Despite that, the green and white still need more heading into next year.
A true No. 1 cornerback that can be relied upon on a week-to-week basis that can hold down the fort and help teach the younger group how to be professionals.
One analyst shared a perfect puzzle piece fit that the Jets could add this offseason.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Almost Too Perfect of a Fit
“If you’re looking for that stop gap band-aid guy, Casey Hayward fits like a glove. He has played in a cover-3 defense for five straight years now I believe.”
The veteran cornerback is 32 years of age and will turn 33 right before the start of the 2022 season.
Despite his age, Hayward is coming off of a magnificent season with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Last year he was a cap casualty of the Los Angeles Chargers and was dumped on the side of the street after posting a terrible 59.5 PFF grade in 2020. The Raiders decided to kick the tires on a one-year flier in 2021 and it paid fantastic dividends.
Hayward jumped up to an elite 76.6 PFF grade and proved he has plenty of gas left in the tank:
- Played in all 17 games
- Nine pass deflections
- 46 combined tackles
Throughout his 10-year career in the NFL, Hayward has shown how much of a stud he is. The talented cornerback has two Pro Bowls and two-second team All-Pro honors to his name.
The Right Kind of Add for the Team
This is a perfect opportunity for the Jets to kick the can down the road.
Hayward can plug in as your No. 1 cornerback and hold down the fort for the next batch of years while you add more talent to the group.
According to the Pro Football Focus contract projections ahead of free agency, Hayward is expected to sign a one-year deal for $6.5 million fully guaranteed.
That figure would place him 30th in the NFL among the highest-paid cornerbacks in football, per Over The Cap.
While the Jets have a young cornerback group with a ton of upside, they desperately need a veteran in the room that has battle scars. Hayward’s leadership and football know-how would be invaluable for the rest of the group.
The other good thing about having a veteran on the team is you skip the learning curve. You don’t have to wait for him to figure out, that is assumed when you bring in a hired mercenary that can get the job done.
Hayward will come relatively cheap and will help significantly upgrade the room as a whole heading into next season