The new regime on 1 Jets Drive is trying to change the losing narrative and it won’t happen overnight. However, you are already seeing some of the changes having an immediate impact.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Really Amazing to See
The Jets lost eight of their free agents to other teams this offseason, but there were even more players that could’ve left beyond that:
- Foley Fatukasi, Jacksonville Jaguars, $30 million
- Marcus Maye, New Orleans Saints, $22.5 million
- Morgan Moses, Baltimore Ravens, $15 million
- Ryan Griffin, Chicago Bears, $2.25 million
- Jamison Crowder, Buffalo Bills, $2 million
- Keelan Cole, Las Vegas Raiders, $1.27 million
- Tyler Kroft, San Francisco 49ers, $1.22 million
- Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions, $1.18 million
One of those was veteran defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd.
According to new information from Rich Cimini who covers the Jets for ESPN, “Shepherd had a chance to leave as a free agent, but he turned down a better offer to return.”
The difference in money from what he got from the Jets (one year deal for $1.08 million) versus the other competing offer was $150,000 more per Cimini.
It isn’t about the money per se, but rather the principle of the move. “His decision surprised and delighted folks in the organization,” Cimini wrote.
Despite an opportunity to earn more cold hard cash and perhaps an even greater chance at playing time, the veteran chose to stay home.
There is something about that, regardless of the situation, that makes you feel good as an organization and as a fan base.
A Difference in Opinion
When Shepherd was initially taken by the Jets with the No. 72 overall pick in the third round, it was met by a lot of eye rolls from the fan base.
The Canadian native took a non-traditional path to the pros and with that came in older than your typical rookies.
Shepherd was 24 years of age when he heard his name called and turned 25 during his rookie campaign. Now he is 28 but will turn 29 in the middle of the 2022 season.
Believe it or not, the former Fort Hays State product is now the longest-tenured draft pick on the team. That certainly speaks to the recent roster turnover and the not-so-great history in the draft.
While he isn’t an overly popular player with the fan base, Cimini notes in his column that “he’s well-respected because of his work ethic and loyalty” in the locker room.
Earlier this offseason when head coach Robert Saleh was talking about the roster he highlighted Shepherd as one of the “kings of strain” on the team. He just loves how he competes and said he is an integral part of his defensive line rotation.
With the loss of Fatukasi this offseason, Shepherd is now listed as the biggest defensive lineman on the team at (315) pounds.
That is an important note considering the Jets haven’t made any significant additions to the defensive tackle position this offseason. Throughout the voluntary portion of OTAs, Shepherd has been getting “first-team reps”, per Cimini.