Jets Leave Door Open for Return of Former $54 Million Defender

Robert Saleh, Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh posing for a photo opp.

The New York Jets are open to bringing the band back together in 2023.

General manager Joe Douglas was asked if the door is still open for veteran linebacker Kwon Alexander to return in 2023.

“We’re going to keep the door open to the possibilities of adding good players at any position, linebacker included.”

Kwon Alexander Was an Important Piece to the Jets Puzzle

The 28-year-old who will turn 29 before the start of the 2023 season delivered for the Jets in 2022.

The former $54 million linebacker joined the Jets for relative pennies ($1.27 million) on August 2, 2022.

Despite joining the team so late in the process, Alexander quickly ascended up the depth chart and became a key cog for the team.

The former LSU product appeared in all 17 games and made 12 starts. That was the first time Alexander started a full season since 2016.

Alexander totaled 69 tackles, recorded .5 a sack, secured six tackles for loss, and forced a fumble. According to Pro Football Focus, he improved in every major category outside of coverage grade from 2021 to 2022:

  • 63 overall
  • 63.6 run defense
  • 73.6 pass rush
  • 58.5 coverage

At the beginning of the offseason head coach Robert Saleh said the goal was to retain as many defenders from his top-five unit last season.

Alexander was excited to cash in on his career year, yet the offers he was looking for never came. The talented linebacker remains a free agent as we head into the thick of the offseason.

Robert Saleh Previews the Jets LB Competition in 2023

The Jets still have CJ Mosley and they re-signed Quincy Williams to a three-year deal for $18 million.

However, with Alexander still unsigned in free agency there is a current opening in the starting lineup at that third linebacker spot.

Saleh was asked at the post-draft presser on Saturday, April 29, who will be competing for that third starting linebacker spot as the roster is currently constructed.

“So obviously you’re looking at Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, I know I’m going to forget someone, Zaire Barnes, and Chazz Surratt. We have a lot of guys that can compete in that spot.”

The list includes a variety of former day three draft picks and a castoff from another team. Hardly inspiring but it’s important to note Saleh’s extensive background at the position.

Throughout his coaching career, he has cut his teeth at the linebacker position. If anyone can wave a magic wand over a group of players and make something happen, it’s Saleh.

With no clear answers for that void on the roster, we circle back to the possibility of bringing Alexander back. Based on the lack of interest in him on the open market, the Jets could likely get him for another year at a discounted rate.

Since he’s coming off of a career year of sorts, there might be a slight uptick in overall pay, but it won’t be by much. The market is what someone will pay you and so far no one has been willing to pay the iron price for Alexander.

Perhaps another year in the Jets system will allow the former Pro Bowler to cash in during the 2024 offseason.

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