The New York Jets have a decision to make at the cornerback spot. Do they use their extra cap space to fill an obvious hole on the team? Or do they roll with the young guns and hope it works out?
Last season the Jets opted for the latter and it didn’t work out.
When proven veterans were available last season like pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney and versatile defensive back Logan Ryan, the Jets gave a hard pass.
Gang Green ranked 24th in sack production, 28th in passing yards allowed, and 29th in QBR this past season.
Turning Back the Clock
While the Jets can’t go back in time and change those decisions, they can control their future and what comes next.
Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report recently revealed six free-agent signings that “seem inevitable in the coming weeks.” One of those moves that seem like a foregone conclusion is former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson and the Jets linking up.
The green and white currently have a lot of names on the roster, but none have the resume to command CB1 status. Nelson possesses those credentials and some:
Over the last three seasons, “Nelson has allowed no more than a 58.2 percent completion rate when targeted in coverage. In 2020, he gave up seven touchdowns but also made some impact plays with two interceptions and nine pass breakups.”
Nelson was released by the Steelers earlier this offseason when no trade partner could be found.
This move was labeled a cap-saving decision as opposed to an indictment on Nelson’s play. Pittsburgh currently sits 17th in the NFL in cap space with just over $9 million, per Over The Cap.
The 28-year old was set to count over $14 million against the cap for the Steelers this season.
Time To Help a Brother Out
During the 2021 NFL draft, the Jets decided to attack the offensive side of the ball early and often. Gang Green’s first four picks all came on that side of the ball for the first time since 1983. Not a bad strategy when you consider the recent lack of success offensively.
Head coach Robert Saleh quietly sat in the room and was a team player supporting every selection. Now it’s time for Jets general manager Joe Douglas to return the favor.
The Jets have the third-most cap space in the league with north of $25 million. It’s time to shatter the piggy bank and spend some of that cold hard cash.
Last year the Jets were tanking and didn’t want to add any talented players late that could help the cause. This year is different. Everyone is on the same timeline from general manager to head coach to first-year quarterback Zach Wilson.
It’s all about developing and trying to simultaneously win football games.
There are no mincing words, this current crop of corners for the Jets is questionable, to say the least. There isn’t a single player on this team you feel good about holding down the fort without some sort of reservation.
Adding Nelson to the rotation would immediately quell a lot of those fears. He’d lock up one of your boundary corner spots and would help coach Saleh sleep at night.
The Jets have plenty of cap space to make this signing a reality. How much would the former Steelers stud command is up for debate, but just take a look at veteran cornerback Casey Hayward.
This offseason the former two-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year deal that can reach up to $4 million with the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s a one-year flier prove-it deal so he can go attack free agency again in 2022.
That should be the market for a player like Nelson and a very worthwhile price for the Jets to kick the tires on.