Jets ‘Last Offseason Move’ Would Correct Critical 2021 Mistake

Jamien Sherwood, Javonte Williams

Getty New York Jets linebacker Jamien Sherwood misses a tackle against the Denver Broncos.

The New York Jets trusted in a major gamble to begin the 2021 season — they relied on two rookies that were converted college safeties to contribute at linebacker.

Now, I’m not saying Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen won’t develop into good players but the early returns were that they weren’t even close to ready. Realistically, both should have been watching their rookie season but due to a lack of depth, there were moments where each was called on to play a major role.

As we get closer and closer to training camp in 2022, the Jets have left themselves in a similar situation. Nasirildeen is currently slated to start at weakside linebacker unless veteran Marcell Harris or 2021 pickup Javin White — two more former safeties — beat him out.

Sherwood is still recovering from a torn Achilles, but he projects as C.J. Mosley’s backup middle linebacker once the season gets going. Once again, the lack of linebacker depth is alarming.

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Yates Implores Jets to Sign Alexander

The Jets’ search for additional help at linebacker has centered around one man: Kwon Alexander.

Supposedly, general manager Joe Douglas “offered deals” to both Alexander and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi according to ex-NYJ defensive lineman turned SNY analyst Leger Douzable. He described the attempts as “take it or leave it offers” and Ogunjobi decided to leave it, signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in June.

Alexander has yet to make a decision and ESPN NFL insider Field Yates believes the Jets must finish what they started in landing the seven-year NFL pro. In an article titled, “one last offseason move for all 32 NFL teams,” Yates wrote:

The Jets brought in the veteran Alexander for a free-agent visit earlier this offseason, though no deal immediately materialized. Not only would Alexander fill what appears to be the Jets’ most critical defensive need right now, he has a strong understanding of their system given his time together with coach Robert Saleh in San Francisco. Alexander is 27 years old and at his best can provide the range in coverage that helps make him a very useful three-down player.

The former Buccaneers draft pick and Niners/Saints vet turns 28 years old in August and would provide the valuable experience that this unit needs. Quincy Williams would still be projected to start alongside Mosley but Alexander could spell the bruiser on the clear and obvious passing downs, being that his greatest strength is his coverage ability.

This move would also correct the errors of year one for Saleh and this staff. With Alexander on the roster, Nasirildeen would be given more time to learn — and who better to learn from? The former Pro Bowler has 521 career tackles (43 for a loss), 12 sacks, 32 passes defended and 18 turnovers forced.

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Alexander Signing Could Shift the Roster

Let’s say Alexander reconsiders or the Jets blink and offer more money, what would that do to this depth chart?

The expectation is that five linebackers will make the 53-man roster after training camp — Mosley, Williams, Sherwood, Nasirildeen and Harris. That would leave Del’Shawn Phillips, White, and rookie UDFA DQ Thomas as options for the practice squad if all goes according to plan.

An Alexander addition might throw a wrench in that. It’s hard to see Sherwood or Nasirildeen getting cut so assuming neither begins the year on the injured reserve, it’s fair to speculate that the veteran could steal Harris’ job.

The other scenario would be six linebackers making the roster, which could mean one less defensive lineman, cornerback or safety. Those positions are already crowded as it is, especially the D-line, so that could create a situation where a trade makes sense.

If Saleh and his staff are still interested in Alexander, the pursuit could make for an interesting August. Either way, the decision would likely be a wise one. A little competition never hurt anyone and this linebacker core could use a kick in the pants.

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