Jets Sign Promising 25-Year Old With Coaching Ties, Address Secondary

D.J. Reed Jr.

Getty Seattle Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed Jr. celebrates an interception on December 20, 2020.

After striking out on safety Marcus Williams, the New York Jets have finally addressed the defense — and more specifically, the secondary — in NFL free agency.

A few short hours after Williams decided to choose the Baltimore Ravens over the Jets, Joe Douglas acted on former Seattle Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed Jr. — first reported on by Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

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Terms of Contract

Five minutes after Hughes dropped the breaking news, NFL insider Tom Pelissero announced the terms of the deal.

“The #Jets are signing former #Seahawks CB D.J. Reed to a three-year, $33 million deal with upside,” he tweeted. That comes out to an average salary of $11 million per year, which is definitely starter money.

New York Daily News beat reporter DJ Bien-Aime connected Gang Green to Reed just before the start of free agency, writing: “Reed isn’t a buzzy name nationally yet. But the Jets are interested and will have competition, sources told the Daily News.”

According to NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, Seattle wanted to re-sign Reed, but his “market grew” out of their price range. ESPN’s Rich Cimini added that the Jets were also interested in Darious Williams of the Los Angeles Rams and Donte Jackson of the Carolina Panthers, before deciding on the Seahawks rising star.

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49ers Background Gave Jets Leg up on Reed

Reed has spent his four-year career on the west coast so if you haven’t heard of him, don’t assume that he isn’t worthy of this contract.

After entering the league as a fifth-round pick with the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas State product was claimed off waivers by Seattle in 2020. Needless to say, he must have impressed head coach Robert Saleh enough during the two years they spent together before he changed jerseys.

Bien-Aime detailed his background on March 14, as well as his breakout campaign with the Seahawks:

He’s an ascending player who played extremely well in 2021. Reed finished with two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Reed, 25, played with sticky coverage as QBs completed 49% of their passes when throwing in his direction, fifth lowest among CBs who were targeted at least 50 times, according to Next Gen Stats. QBs had a passer rating of 69 and Reed allowed only three touchdowns and 474 yards in coverage. Reed played under Saleh in 2018 and 2019 in San Francisco. And Seattle runs a similar system to Saleh’s, as Saleh comes from the Seahawks tree.

Hughes also chimed in with some scouting from his sources, describing Reed as “a ‘really good’ No. 2” cornerback. He continued: “Good ball skills & plays much bigger than [5-foot-9] frame. Other words I’ve had used to describe him — instinctive, elite competitor, versatile, ‘great’ guy. SEA loved him. Jets will, too.”

Jets X-Factor analyst Michael Nania also touted Reed as a “very good run defender,” something the Jets corners struggled with as a unit in 2021. He added later: “Reed was PFF’s No. 1-ranked run defender among CBs in 2020 and 5th in 2021. An incredible 47 tackles vs the run over that span with just 2 missed.”

It feels like an under-the-radar pickup from a staff that had familiarity with the lesser-known talent. That’s the hope, at least, as the zone-heavy coverage expert fits this scheme to a T.

Hughes did report afterward that the “Jets are still very involved in [the] safety market.”

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