Finished on Injured Reserve: Maye, Joyner
Finished on Reserve/COVID: Zane Lewis
Finished on Practice Squad: Redwine
No Longer on Roster: Colbert, Wilson, Neasman, Benton
Reserve/Future Signing: Jovante Moffatt
Potential Free Agents in 2022
Unrestricted: Maye, Joyner, Parks
Exclusive Rights: Riley
In contrast to the young guys populating the cornerbacks position, the Jets opened the season with a pair of seasoned veterans -- Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner -- at safety. Part of HC Robert Saleh's plan was to have Maye and Joyner provide experience and strong communication with their younger teammates.
As we all know now, the best laid plans. ... Joyner sustained a torn triceps in the Week 1 game at Carolina while Maye was lost for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the Week 9 game at Indianapolis.
"That safety position has taken quite the hit in terms of just the amount of players that've come through there," Saleh said in November. He added: "We got guys who can play in our room. It's just about building cohesiveness amongst us, getting reps in practice, getting the communication together and making sure we're on the same page."
The status of Maye and Joyner (both unrestricted free agents who are each coming off injuries) will go a long way to determining if the Jets pursue free agents (a list that could include players like Marcus Williams, Jessie Bates and Xavier Woods) or wait to pluck a top-rated player in the draft with perhaps one of the four picks they have among the top 38 selections. Ashtyn Davis and Jasson Pinnock (a converted CB) are under contract. It's also interesting to note that two 2021 draft picks -- Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen -- played safety in college before being shifted to linebacker. Could they be an option? Unlikely.
In the draft, the early chatter has focused on Darryl Stingley, Jr., who played CB at LSU but could make the switch; and Kyle Hamilton of Notre Dame, who is 6-4, 220 and is considered by many to be the top safety in the draft.
Regardless of how it shakes out, this is going to be a room on the move.
See the best images of Jets Safeties during the 2021 season.
Though the Jets were forced to scramble and improvise, basically from the start of the season, the unit of DC Jeff Ulbrich was able to unearth some solid performances. Second-year man Davis missed the start of the season as he recovered from foot surgery, then played in 13 games. He took more than 95% of the snaps in 9 of those games. The hard-hitting Elijah Riley, a midseason pickup off the Eagles' practice squad, missed a game because of a concussion, but should be in the conversation for the 2022 season. Jason Pinnock, another rookie, was drafted out of Pittsburgh as a cornerback but was pressed into duty at safety in a late-season emergency as the Jets dealt with injuries and Covid issues at the position. He acquitted himself well. "That's where I'm at in this game and that's where I feel most comfortable at and continue to go from there," he said.
The opening-day injury to starter Lamarcus Joyner began a season-long involvement with the injury list and IR that led to the Jets to starting 11 different safeties and using 9 different starting combinations, the most of either in a season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.