Jets Team Leader Bolts to NFC on $10.5 Million Contract: Report

Jordan Whitehead, Jets

Getty Former New York Jets defensive back Jordan Whitehead reacting in the middle of an NFL game.

The New York Jets have lost a key starter on the defensive side of the football.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport shared on social media that veteran safety Jordan Whitehead is joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year deal with a maximum value of $10.5 million.

Whitehead Was a Polarizing Player With the Jets

The former Pittsburgh product is going back home. He started his NFL career with the Bucs back in 2018 as the No. 117 overall pick in the fourth round.

Whitehead, 26, spent his first four seasons with Tampa Bay highlighted by a Super Bowl win with Tom Brady at quarterback.

In 2022 after his deal expired, he took his talents to New York to join the Jets. He signed a two-year deal for $14.5 million.

Whitehead appeared in 34 out of 34 possible games over the last two seasons. Not only was he available, but he was also insanely productive. Whitehead registered six interceptions including a career-high four last year.

Three of those four interceptions came in the 2023 season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Those three picks were already the most he had ever had in a single season and he got them in the first 60 minutes of the year.

While Whitehead made plenty of splash plays he was also widely criticized on social media for his inconsistent tackling.

Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor highlighted Whitehead’s 15.6% missed tackle rate which ranked No. 80 among qualifying safeties in the NFL.

That inconsistent ability to tackle and poor angles led to some explosive plays on the backend of the defense.

What Happens Next at the Safety Position for the Jets?

Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic revealed on X previously Twitter, “The expectation right now is that Ashtyn Davis won’t return either. He wants to be a starter — possibly returns if that opportunity doesn’t arise.”

Davis, 27, hit the open market for the first time in his NFL career after his rookie contract expired.

Davis was one of three pending free agents at the safety position for the Jets this offseason. Chuck Clark and the aforementioned Whitehead were the others. New York was able to re-up with Clark right ahead of free agency.

With Whitehead gone, the Jets will have to turn to a new direction at the safety spot if they are unable to bring back Davis into the fold. Right now Clark and Adams are penciled in as the starters, but Rich Cimini of ESPN explained that isn’t set in stone during an appearance on “NY Flight Jets Talk.”

There is a ton of big names available at safety but teams haven’t been willing to spend at the position. That could end up working to the Jets’ benefit if this market continues to progress slowly.

The Jets could swoop in during the third or fourth wave of free agency and pick up a bigger name at an insane discount.

The other possibility for the green and white is the 2024 NFL draft. New York has more pressing needs on the offensive side of the football, but adding another safety is on the list.

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