‘Stained’ Jets Cut Signs With Bears as Potential Replacement Emerges

Lamar Jackson

Getty New York Jets cornerback Lamar Jackson was beaten on an infamous Hail Mary touchdown on December 6, 2020.

Three days ago on January 17, eight New York Jets reserves saw their practice squad contracts expire, making them unrestricted free agents.

It didn’t take long for one to get snatched up by another NFL franchise. Last night on January 19, NFL insider Dov Kleiman reported that the “[Chicago] Bears signed Lamar Jackson, CB, to a future contract.”

We had seen a couple of visits and tryouts for veterans like Ronald Blair and Vyncint Smith but Jackson is the first cut to sign elsewhere officially. Of course, most Jets fans won’t be sad to see him go.

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Jets Tenure Stained by Hail Mary

Although the former undrafted prospect’s career began with promise — six rookie starts in Gregg Williams’ defense — it all deteriorated for Jackson on a single infamous mistake. With the Las Vegas Raiders down four with thirteen seconds left (no time-outs) and the ball spotted near the 50-yard line, the cornerback was burnt by Henry Ruggs III on a Hail Mary.

As defensive coordinator, Williams took the brunt of the blame for the “cover-zero” call but the lack of awareness from Jackson was astonishing. The rookie bit on a double-move when the ball needed to get to the end zone, and the rest was history.

If the Nebraska product had more of a resume, he might have recovered from this ugly stain on his Jets career, but his play never warranted a second chance. Jackson allowed 26 receptions off 39 targets for 400 yards in 2020. This earned him a 45.8 coverage grade on Pro Football Focus.

Despite that, Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich gave him a shot in training camp but the UDFA didn’t do enough to beat out rookies like Brandin Echols, Isaiah Dunn and Jason Pinnock. His best moment came on an interception during the second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers and that might have been what eventually won him a practice squad spot in 2021.

Jackson dressed for one game under Coach Saleh, taking the field for five special teams snaps.

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Defensive Back Visits Jets

Ironically enough, Gang Green had another 2020 UDFA in for a visit the same day Jackson signed with Chicago — defensive back Jovante Moffatt.

The Middle Tennessee State product appeared in nine games with the Cleveland Browns in 2020 and five in 2021, logging mostly special teams snaps as a rookie and 54 defensive ones in year two.

Moffatt profiles more as a safety, splitting his snaps narrowly between free and box (strong) alignments according to PFF — although he did line up in the slot nine times. He received his best grade as a tackler this season (64.9) and his worst in run defense (49.3).

In college, the former Blue Raider was a three-year starter and 2019 team captain. NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein highlighted his size, speed, range and physicality when scouting him in 2020.

Moffatt only turned 25 on Christmas Day. Even if the Jets don’t sign him immediately, this visit could put him on Saleh’s shortlist of emergency replacements in 2022.

The Jets did finalize one futures deal on January 19, defensive end Bradlee Anae.

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