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Jets Get Defensive, Reportedly Add Two Pieces to the Secondary; Plan to Re-Sign DT Nathan Shepherd

CB D.J. Reed Played for HC Robert Saleh With the 49ers; S Jordan Whitehead Is a Big Hitter in the Back End


After attacking the offense early during the NFL's two-day negotiating window, the Jets turned to the secondary on Day 2 on Tuesday, while reportedly agreeing to terms with S Jordan Whitehead and CB D.J. Reed.

Having already re-signed safeties Lamarcus Joyner and Will Parks, the Jets looked south and grabbed talented young S Jordan Whitehead from Tampa Bay, according to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini. Whitehead (24) lined up in 14 games for the Buccaneers last season while amassing 67 tackles, 8 PDs and 2 INTs. A fourth-round pick of the Buccaneers in the 2018 NFL Draft, Whitehead, a Pittsburgh product, played four seasons in Tampa and had 276 tackles (206 solos), 25 PDs, 5 INTs and 2 sacks while appearing in 59 contests (55 starts). Whitehead, 5-11, 200, is a big hitter who thrives in the box and demonstrated his toughness by playing with a torn labrum in Tampa Bay's Super Bowl win over Kansas City.

After starting his career playing under Robert Saleh in San Francisco, Reed will continue his pro journey under Saleh with the Jets. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the sides have reached a three-year deal.

Reed, originally a fifth-round pick of the 49ers in 2018, is, a Kansas State product. He appeared in 31 games for the 49ers over two seasons while registering 51 tackles, 2 PDs, 1 FF and 1 FR. After being waived by San Francisco, Reed was claimed by Seattle before the 2020 season. Over 24 games in two seasons with the 'Hawks, Reed started 22 games and totaled 123 tackles, 17 PDs and 4 INTs.

According to Pro Football Focus, Reed's 69 solo tackles last season ranked tied for third among all cornerbacks and he was given an 85.8 grade for his run defense and a 78.6 overall mark.

After playing at Independence HS in Bakersfield, CA, Reed had zero offers from Division I schools and walked on at Fresno State before transferring to Cerritos College (Norwalk, CA). He transferred to Kansas State and went on to earn All-America honors at kick returner in 2017 when he averaged the second-best mark in the nation, 34.2 yards, on 17 kick returns. Reed's 14.9-yard average on punt returns tied for sixth in school history and ranked second nationally. During the '17 campaign, he also produced 47 tackles, 4 INTs, 9 PDs, 2 FR and 1 FF.

Reed (5-9, 194), who has experience playing both outside and inside, joins a young cornerback group that includes Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, Brandin Echols and Javelin Guidry.

Pelissero tweeted Tuesday night that the Jets also intended to re-sign veteran DT Nathan Shepherd. In four seasons with the Jets, Shepherd has appeared in 56 games and made nine starts while amassing 71 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 27 QB hits. Shepherd (6-4, 315), a third-round pick of New York's AFC representative in 2018 who attended Fort Hays State, played 17 games last season and made one start, finishing with 28 tackles and 8 QB hits.

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