With less than a week to go before NFL training camps begin in earnest, it would appear the biggest offseason moves have come to an end.
Of course, that was before the latest juicy nugget from a prominent NFL insider dropped this week. The New York Jets apparently still have a few more tricks up their sleeve and would like to make some magic happen before 2022.
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Well I’m Tickled
NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler dropped a very interesting nugget in an ESPN column that predicted the future NFL power rankings.
“It seems like New York is still looking for another splash move in the secondary. The Jets were in the mix for several high-cost free agents and signed corner D.J. Reed but could still use one more playmaker. A rangy center fielder at safety would elevate what should be an emerging defense.”
This offseason the green and white have completely flipped their secondary from a year ago.
As Fowler noted they invested over $33 million in free agent dollars to lure Reed from the west coast to the east coast. Then a month later they selected Ahmad Gardner with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Those will be your two starting outside corners to pair along with Michael Carter II in the slot.
In free agency, the green and white did openly flirt with some pretty big-name safety options but ultimately settled on Jordan Whitehead.
Fowler notes that this “splash move” would be in the “secondary.” If that’s true then the only possible place it could be is the opposite safety starter across from Whitehead. All of the other starting positions in the secondary are accounted for and I wouldn’t necessarily call a move to sign a backup this offseason a “splash.”
What Could That Move Be?
Fowler didn’t provide any names for who that splash could be in his article, but we can certainly speculate.
The biggest name that makes the most sense and is there to potentially be had is Cincinnati Bengals playmaking safety Jessie Bates III.
Bates is currently very unhappy with his situation with the Bengals and at this point has no plans to report to camp or play under the franchise tag, per NFL Insider Josina Anderson.
Unfortunately, the franchise tag extension deadline passed so Bates has no other choice if he wants to play football in 2022 it will have to be under the tag. That is the same whether he is a member of the Bengals or even if he gets tagged and traded to another team, they all have to play under the same rules.
While the talented 25-year-old would be a perfect fit in this secondary with his skill set it would be an incredibly risky move for the green and white.
They’d have to trade an asset to go get him, allow him to play out the tag in 2022, then they would be forced to give him a massive top-of-the-line extension next offseason. Now they would also have the franchise tag in the back pocket next year to protect themselves so he doesn’t reach unrestricted free agency, but we are bearing witness right now to why that doesn’t seem to be a great idea.
Bates is unhappy playing on the tag and I’m sure the reaction wouldn’t be positive to possibly play back-to-back years on the tag.
What the Jets could do if they really wanted to make this work is getting a trade agreement with the Bengals locked in. Then ask to speak with Bates, tell him obviously there is nothing you can do for this year, but promise wink-wink you’ll take care of him after the season.
You would then get a super motivated star ready to make an impact this season and if/when he balls out, you happily hand the then 26-year-old a massive extension as a key piece of your future.
In four seasons Bates has registered 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and over 35 pass deflections.