The New York Jets have a massive hole at the safety position. With Marcus Maye expected to leave in free agency and Lamarcus Joyner’s deal expiring, the current depth chart would rely on youngsters like Ashtyn Davis and Jason Pinnock to carry the load.
This is one area that Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh must rebuild this spring and the Jets front office took the first steps in doing so on March 10. According to uSTADIUM, the “Jets are re-signing S Will Parks.” They added: “He played in 3 games and started 2 for [NYJ] last year.”
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Parks Nails Audition
Parks is a six-year NFL pro that has played for four franchises and signed with five. A veteran like that knows that every opportunity is crucial and he certainly made the most of his time in New York.
Nine tackles (one for a loss) and one pass defended in three appearances may not stand out on paper but the safety pairing solidified once Parks and Pinnock took over late in the season. The defensive back’s Pro Football Focus grade reflected that.
Parks scored an 82.3 overall against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16 — a game the Jets won despite suffering a COVID-19 outbreak throughout the week. He did not play as much against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after starters returned but he did log 19 solid snaps on defense during the final outing against Buffalo.
According to PFF, Parks excelled as a tackler with an 81.9 season grade over the brief stint. In coverage, he allowed two receptions off four targets for 32 yards.
The veteran isn’t expected to take on a major role in 2022 but he must have impressed Saleh enough to earn a full training camp with the unit. Parks provides necessary depth and experience in a secondary that lacks both.
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Landscape at Safety
Another option would be to build through the draft by selecting the “unicorn,” Kyle Hamilton, something Saleh said he would never rule out. There could be plenty of defensive backs on the board early in the second round as well, including Jaquan Brisker, Daxton Hill, Jalen Pitre and Lewis Cine among others.
Promising 2021 pickup Elijah Riley is the next impending free agent to decide on at the position. The former UDFA out of Army took on a starting role after Douglas poached him off the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad.
Riley is an exclusive-rights free agent in 2022.