Jets FA Preview: Defensive Backs

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Jets Free Agents
UFA: CB Morris Claiborne, S Terrence Brooks
RFA: S Rontez Miles
XRFA: S Doug Middleton

The Market
Notable cornerbacks: Trumaine Johnson (LAR), Malcolm Butler (NE), Kyle Fuller (CHI), Bashaud Breeland (WAS), Brent Grimes (TB), Aaron Colvin (JAX), Patrick Robinson (PHI), E.J. Gaines (BUF), Prince Amukamara (CHI), Davon House (GB), Terence Newman (MIN)

Notable safeties: Tre Boston (LAC), Kenny Vaccaro (NO), T.J. Ward (TB), Morgan Burnett (GB), Eric Reid (SF)

Synopsis

When the Jets tabbed Morris Claiborne last March, they signed a talented but oft-injured corner. In his first year with the Green & White Claiborne quietly had one of his better years since entering the league in 2012. The former No. 6 overall pick played in 15 games, the most since his rookie season, and recorded a team-leading 11 pass defenses along with an interception.

As the players cleared out their lockers in early January, Claiborne expressed his desire to stay with the Jets.

"I'm happy right here," he told the media. "I love everything about this organization from the equipment staff to the training staff to the coaches. Why pack up and move somewhere else if you have everything here?"

The former LSU product shared a secondary with a fellow Tiger, rookie Jamal Adams. Between Adams and Marcus Maye, the Jets are set in the back for years to come and Claiborne wants to be part of the future.

Best Snapshots of the CB Unit During the 2017 Season

"It was a lot of fun from the moment they walked in the door until now," Claiborne said about working with the rookie duo. "Just watching them grow as players and as leaders, it's been a ride."

While the Jets won't make any front-line moves at the safety position, they'll most likely add to their depth as Terrence Brooks, Rontez Miles and Doug Middleton all have expiring contracts.

On the outside, there is a plethora of options if the Jets elect to add a corner through free agency as the Rams' Trumaine Johnson and the Patriots' Malcolm Butler highlight the group. Los Angeles tagged Johnson in both 2016 and '17 but elected to place their tag on FS Lamarcus Joyner this year. In six seasons, the 6'2", 213-pound Johnson recorded 18 interceptions and 67 pass defenses. For what it's worth, there could be a tie to the Green & White as defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson coached Johnson for three years, but as always, the price has to be right.

Butler's name surfaced in the headlines following the Patriots' Super Bowl LII loss in which he didn't play any defensive snaps after starting 15 games in 2017. It seems that the Patriots and the West Alabama product will part ways upon the start of the new league year. The 28-year-old has an aggressive style of play as he's tallied 44 PDs in three years as a starter and notched three forced fumbles in 2017.

Other intriguing names include Bears CB Kyle Fuller, who missed all of 2016 with a knee injury following two good years to kick off his NFL career. However, Fuller's price could be rather steep as Chicago placed the transition tag on the 26-year-old, which means other teams can negotiate with Fuller but the Bears can match any offer. The one-year transition tag is worth $12.97 million. The Jets could also pursue the likes of the Redskins' Bashaud Breeland, who's started 57 games in Washington in the last four seasons (and had an INT against the Jets in '15) and Prince Amukamara, who used to call MetLife Stadium home as a member of the crosstown Giants.

Best Snapshots of the Jets Safeties During the 2017 Season

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