On New Year's Day, Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne said about his potential status as an unrestricted free agent, "I hope to stay here. Hopefully we'll get something done before then."
"Then" was the start of the free agency signing period, which was Wednesday at 4 p.m. And Claiborne and the Jets did indeed get "something done" as the team has re-signed the veteran CB to a new contract.
Claiborne, who came to the Jets from Dallas a year ago as a UFA, had one of his best years since his rookie season after the Cowboys made him the sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft out of LSU. With the Jets he played in and started 15 games for only the second time in his career.
"I've always felt I was that type of corner who can go down and press and be in receivers' faces," he said. "I've always liked the man-to-man scheme."
Equaling a career high with eight pass defenses, Claiborne's Week 5 interception in Cleveland set up the Jets' short go-ahead touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter.
"I've felt like I've been one of the top corners in the league this year, especially in terms of really trailing a guy," Claiborne said in December. "Me going wherever he goes — the top receiver on whatever team — and I've been able to do that the whole season."
Claiborne was at his best in a Week 8 meeting against the Falcons, shadowing Julio Jones and making the perennial Pro Bowler a non-factor before the veteran corner departed in the third quarter with a foot injury. After appearing in just 22 of 48 contests with the Cowboys from 2014-16, Claiborne missed only one game and played through the pain for a few weeks.
"He works hard. He's had some freak injuries and we're just happy he's healthy," said head coach Todd Bowles of Claiborne late in the season. "He keeps grinding. He loves to play every week."
After an uneven performance in Denver in Week 14, Claiborne bounced back with a good finish, and he said his foot would heal with rest in the offseason. He also said he was looking forward to returning to the Jets, for a variety of reasons, from "the equipment staff to the training staff to the coaches" to having a second season of playing with his new team.
"I feel like me and this locker room, we took a lot out of this season," he said. "It didn't go as we planned it to go, but I felt like a lot of guys, as individuals, as a group, we took a lot from it, and that's growing up and really finding out who we are as a team."
With his new deal, Claiborne will continue that growth with the Jets into 2018.
Top Photos of the Jets CB During the 2017 Season