On the Active Roster in 2017 (GP/GS, Defensive Snaps)
Jamal Adams (16/16, 1101), Marcus Maye (16/16, 1064), Rontez Miles (13/0, 124), Terrence Brooks (15/1, 92), . Injured Reserve: Doug Middleton (0/0, 0).
Potential Free Agents in 2018
Unrestricted: S Terrence Brooks. Restricted: Rontez Miles. Exclusive Rights: Doug Middleton.
Jamal & Marcus, Marcus & JamalWe began the 2017 season by revealing that first-round draftee Jamal Adams and second-rounder Marcus Maye were slated to become the first rookie starting safety duo on opening day in franchise history.
That billing wasn't over the top, and neither were too many opponent passes. Adams and Maye teamed up to give fans of Green & White pass defense the expectation that those two would be patrolling the deep middle for seasons to come.
Although their roles were interchangeable, Adams thrived close to the line as he notched two sacks and recovered two opponent fumbles — becoming the first Jets DB to notch two-plus sacks and two-plus takeaways in a season since S Eric Smith in 2011. He was third on the defense with 83 tackles and led the D with 11 tackles to prevent conversions on third/fourth downs. And he crowned his season by at least being recognized among the top AFC Pro Bowl safeties as a third alternate.
Maye starred in coverage and hard hits. His two interceptions — including one in the end zone on opening day at Buffalo — made him the first Jets rookie since Dee Milliner in 2013 with two-plus picks in a season, and his 76 tackles were fourth on the defense, right behind Adams.
Further, the two were very durable as both participated in more than 1,000 defensive snaps as well as contributing on special teams.
In Todd Bowles' first-hand reflections on the season just posted on newyorkjets.com, the head coach praised both young men for being as good as advertised. Adams, he said, "does it the right way, he's how you build them and how you want them to play. ... It's what you saw his whole college career and what you see now. I'm just happy we got him. Marcus is an outstanding open-field tackler. ... You don't see the flash plays, but he makes everybody right and he gets people down when no one else does."
Both players, Bowles said, "play hard and play fast. ... We just make them aware of some things, but play-wise, we just let them play."
The downside of both rookies playing so much is that there weren't many snaps for the other safeties on the roster. Rontez Miles as usual pitched in on defense with about 10 defensive snaps a game — including 50 in the finale at New England when Maye left early with injury — and led the Jets with 20 solo tackles and 26 total tackles on kick coverage.
And Terrence Brooks, who arrived from Philadelphia in an August trade, was also a part of the S/ST rotation, with his career highlight being two interceptions in Game 3 vs. Miami, one on defense and one on teams covering a fake punt, which earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Looking AheadThe depth at the position in '17 could be affected in the coming free agency signing period. Brooks, who said at the start of the season that "I was happy a team wanted me to be here and contribute," can become an unrestricted FA. Miles, who officially completed his third season and has actually had been a part of five Jets seasons dating to 2013, could become a restricted FA but wants to return.
One other safety still around is Doug Middleton, who the last time he flashed on the field was when he pounced on the uncovered kickoff by the Bills for a touchdown in the 2015 finale. Middleton spent all last year on injured reserve with a pectoral injury suffered in the preseason opener vs. the Titans.