The New York Jets swung and missed on several interior defensive linemen on the open market.
Now they have shifted focus to plan B by re-signing defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network was the first to share the news on social media.
The financial details of the deal have not been announced, however, Connor Hughes of The Athletic says it is expected to be “a near-minimum deal.”
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Some Much Needed Depth
How rare was this deal?
According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, Shepherd became the first Mike Maccagnan draft pick to receive a second contract from the team.
Maccagnan was the general manager for the Jets from 2015 through 2019 and had many infamous blunders running the shop.
The most noteworthy was his not-so-great track record in the NFL draft.
With so many bad swings and misses the top, middle, and bottom of the roster suffered. That erosion of talent led to a lack of a foundation. Current GM Joe Douglas is just now finally getting out of the big mess he was left.
Second Chance to Prove Himself
Shepherd has had a very interesting life, let alone career in the NFL.
He started off at Simon Frazer University but had to leave after two years because he couldn’t afford tuition. After working a series of odd jobs, football came crawling back into his life and Shepherd got a second chance at Fort Hays State and he made the most of it.
After a late surge, Shepherd rose up the ranks and became the No. 72 overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft.
During his time in the NFL he has had his fair share of ups and downs:
- 4.5 sacks
- 27 quarterback hits
- Over 71 total tackles
Shepherd has played in 56 games but has only started in nine of those contests.
With the Jets missing out on several of their top targets in free agency, he will once again have another opportunity to prove he belongs.
Shepherd only signed a one-year deal likely for the veteran minimum. That won’t guarantee him a spot on the roster, let alone a potential role in this rotation.
It’ll be up to him to make the most of this moment and keep his NFL dreams alive.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive tackle isn’t facing much competition on the roster with Tanzel Smart and Jonathan Marshall as his primary competitors. Although the starting jobs are on lock right now with Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins clearly ahead on the depth chart.
If he wants to make an impact, Shepherd is going to have to turn the flashes into consistency. He has shown glimpses of some pass rush chutzpah, but it has been way too few and far between.
The good news is because of Robert Saleh’s system, every cog on the defensive line will get their chance because he rotates so often.
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