Jets Work Out Veteran Free Agent With ‘Multiple’ Suitors: Report

Jimmy Moreland, Richie James

Getty Former Washington cornerback Jimmy Moreland (left) attempts a tackle in 2020.

The start of the 2022 NFL regular season is only days away but the New York Jets roster is still making some adjustments.

Last night on September 5, they chose to bring back veteran swing offensive tackle Conor McDermott, waiving promising UDFA running back Zonovan Knight in the process. Although the selection drew the ire of fans, the Jets definitely needed an experienced backup at OT before Week 1.

Many assumed this would be general manager Joe Douglas’ final move before the opener but the activity on September 6 would imply that there are more changes to come.

Jets Work out Veteran CB Jimmy Moreland

According to Pro Football Network insider Aaron Wilson, the Jets are “working out” third-year NFL veteran Jimmy Moreland — a cornerback that has spent time with Washington and Houston.

Wilson added that Moreland has become a popular free-agent target, having “drawn interest from multiple teams.”

The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt then followed up with the opinion that Moreland would likely be a “practice squad addition” after the Jets cornerback reserves got ransacked on waivers. Gang Green lost three youngsters at the position — Javelin Guidry, Rachad Wildgoose and Isaiah Dunn.

Moreland Could Replace Guidry

A former seventh-round draft pick with Washington, Moreland is a nickelback by trade but he is versatile enough to sub in elsewhere in a pinch. If that skillset sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Guidry, New York’s backup slot corner for the past couple of years.

NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zierlein once scouted the 5-foot-11 Moreland as a “ball-hawking playmaker who saw six of his 18 [collegiate] interceptions turn into touchdowns.”

“He’s tenacious and physical from press with the fluidity and speed to hold up in trail technique,” detailed Zierlein, “but his off-man coverage needs work. He’s thin and needs more functional mass and strength to play the NFL game, but his ball skills and toughness give him a shot at eventually finding NFL playing time as a press-happy nickel.”

At the NFL level, Moreland has started 10 games and appeared in 37. He’s only managed one interception during his three-year tenure, although the nickel has defended five passes with a career catch percentage allowed of 75.7% on Pro Football Focus.

Those stats yielded a coverage grade that has regressed from 61.3 his rookie campaign to 56.7.

Moreland’s greatest deficiency appears to be his tackling, however. PFF charged him with 19 missed tackles during his two seasons in Washington with a concerning 18.6% missed tackle rate throughout his career.

In 2021, Moreland was scarcely called upon with the Texans. He only logged eight defensive snaps over his seven appearances, getting more burn on special teams with 38 snaps of usage.

The defensive back has mostly factored in three special teams’ areas according to PFF — kick return coverage, punt return, and field goal block. He is not a returner or a gunner and registered an ST grade of 62.7 last year.

Based on this track record, Rosenblatt’s assertion seems likely. The Jets saw their cornerback room get pillaged on waivers and now Douglas is doing some recon work to eventually restore some of that depth.

This is especially important with D.J. Reed Jr. battling injuries throughout camp. The integral starter has been dealing with a knee injury of late and is currently questionable for Week 1. Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters that they should have a better idea if Reed can go by Wednesday, September 7.

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