Jets Should Target Gifted Third-Rounder in Need of ‘Change of Scenery’

Nelson Agholor, Justin Reid

Getty Houston Texans safety Justin Reid lines up a tackle on New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor.

Yesterday, there was talk once again that the New York Jets are expected to target a veteran safety in free agency — but veteran is a relative term when it comes to football.

How about a four-year NFL pro that is entering his prime at age 25? That’s not exactly a grizzled athlete but they’d still be experienced and talented enough to do wonders for this defense.

The player I’m referring to is former Houston Texans third-round pick Justin Reid, a safety out of Stanford that has football in his blood.

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Jets Provide Clean Break for Reid

Justin’s older brother Eric Reid had a long history as a starting safety in San Francisco and after the younger Reid accumulated five interceptions and one forced fumble during his first two seasons in Houston, it was clear that the position runs in the family.

The Stanford product has not had a bad campaign statistically speaking, although the Texans’ secondary hasn’t been great around him. Reid has totaled 78 tackles or more in every season but 2021 (13 games played) and has been a part of three or more turnovers in every year but 2020 — when he had two sacks and six tackles for a loss.

The safety also has 23 passes defended split over four seasons. Basically, every time one part of his game has dipped slightly, other areas have spiked and one could argue his services are being wasted with Houston.

ESPN’s beat reporter for the Texans, Sarah Barshop, might even agree. The reporter recently named Reid as the Houston player most in need of a change of scenery. She wrote:

Reid outplayed his third-round draft pick status in his four seasons in Houston, but he and the Texans did not get a contract extension done before or during the season. During the season, Reid was benched for violating team rules after he challenged head coach David Culley’s coaching in a team meeting. Now that Reid can hit the open market, the Texans don’t expect Reid to be back in 2022.

With the general manager and head coach positions changing hands since Reid was drafted, a clean break seems likely here. The Jets also need a safety with Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner set to hit free agency and the underrated Texan fits the mold of a typical Joe Douglas target — a rising talent that is entering his prime.

The only part that worries is Reid’s 2021 benching for disciplinary reasons, which ironically came against Gang Green. More on that incident below.

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Culley Said Benching ‘Wasn’t Just a Disagreement’

Ex-Texans head coach David Culley didn’t reveal much about what caused the inactivation of Reid, after deciding to keep the details in-house. Barshop quoted Culley on November 28, who stated: “We have rules and when the rules are broken … it doesn’t matter who it is.”

That sparked a social media reaction from former safety and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark.

“[Reid’s] a healthy scratch because of a disagreement,” Clark said. “He’s a healthy scratch because he answered a question honestly when asked by the coaching staff. Now, coaching staffs have disagreements with players all the time. They usually move on when it’s not a fight, when it’s not volatile. When it’s amicable, they find a way to get to the solution for the problem and they field the best team they possibly can. That’s what winning organizations do. The Houston Texans have decided to let ego, to let emotions, to let feelings get in the way of fielding the best team possible. Justin Reid was a professional and as a leader of the team he answered a question that was asked of him. Now, he won’t suit up. This is one of the best players on the team. A player that’s sacrificed much for the Houston Texans. Now, he’s being repaid by not getting his helmet because he was honest.”

Per the Houston Chronicle, Culley later explained that “it wasn’t just a disagreement.” Continuing: “It had something to do with our rules and our standards. It wasn’t just a disagreement.”

When asked, Reid told Fox 26 that he was “shocked that it happened,” describing the meeting with Culley as amicable. The disciplinary action only lasted one week, but the lasting effects may still linger as the safety looks for a new home in free agency.

This appears to be an isolated incident for the gifted defensive back, who could turn into a breakout star under the guidance of Jets HC Robert Saleh and up-and-coming safeties coach Marquand Manuel.

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