New York Jets fans received some surprising news on the evening of May 25.
NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero was the first to report, tweeting: “The NFL suspended Jets DB Brandin Echols for the first game of the 2023 season, per the wire.”
In a separate tweet, Pelissero added that “Brandin Echols’ suspension is for a violation of the personal conduct policy, I’m told. He was accepted into a diversionary program earlier this year, related to his role in a high-speed crash in 2022.” He also linked an article from the Daily Record that reported on the auto accident.
Car Crash Involving Jets CB Brandin Echols ‘Partially Paralyzed Another Man’
According to Lori Comstock of the Daily Record and New Jersey Herald, Echols “was accepted in a diversionary program to avoid assault by auto charges in a high-speed crash in Florham Park in 2022 that partially paralyzed another man.”
This crash occurred “on the Columbia Turnpike, not far from the Morristown Airport and just two miles from the Jets’ training facility.”
Comstock went on, detailing the initial charges. “Florham Park Police in January charged Echols with the fourth-degree crime and issued him several motor vehicle summonses for reckless driving, speeding, unsafe lane change, improper passing and failure to wear a seatbelt, according to police records obtained by the Daily Record,” she relayed.
The third-year cornerback “did not admit guilt,” according to Comstock. “Under the supervision of a probation officer, he will over the course of the 36-month program undergo various programs for rehabilitation and will be monitored by the courts,” she explained. “Once completed, the charge and motor vehicle summonses will be dismissed, although his arrest is still part of his record.”
He also has to “pay the injured driver $54,460 in restitution at a rate of $1,200 a month,” plus his driver’s license will be suspended for six months — per the Daily Record.
All of this is a product of Echols being accepted into the diversionary program, a decision that the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office defended according to Comstock, “stating that it is only offered to first-time offenders based on a number of statutory guidelines.” The Jets youngster’s background fit all of those requirements.
Echols’ attorney Mitch Schuster said the following in a statement to the Daily Record: “Mr. Echols is not alleged to have been driving under the influence of any substances and there are no claims that Mr. Echols intended to hurt anyone. Mr. Echols is deeply saddened that [crash victim] Mr. [Stephen] Gilberg suffered injuries as a result of the accident and wishes Mr. Gilberg a full and speedy recovery.”
Gilberg spoke as well during a February 28 hearing, per Comstock, noting that the accident will “forever haunt me.” He continued: “While I’ve made certain strides physically, such as learning to walk again albeit not in the same way I used to, it’s the nerve damage and the pain you don’t see. The physical things I will never be able to do and the psychological trauma I am living with every single day that will continue to impact the rest of my life.”
Brandin Echols Plays Key Backup Role for Jets
The 25-year-old former sixth-round pick may not start for Gang Green, but he plays a role as a key backup behind outside cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed Jr. A role Echols swiped away from former starter Bryce Hall in 2022.
Of course, Echols started 14 games in 2021 as well, typically across from Hall. He intercepted his first two NFL passes during that breakout campaign, with nine passes defended and one INT return for a touchdown.
Despite his success, Echols was inconsistent enough that the Jets decided to upgrade on both him and Hall in 2022. The Kentucky and JUCO product still suited up for 13 games last year, spelling either Gardner or Reed whenever either needed relief.
Hall only logged five appearances in 2022, dropping squarely behind Echols and nickel CB Michael Carter II on the NYJ depth chart.