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Jets ST Look Ahead: Berrios Decision to Come, Units Improve

Team Has Offseason Decisions After Return Teams Topped NFL and K Eddy Piñeiro Finished Strong

Table inside Article
Jets Player GP-GS-DNP-IA DSnaps-STSnaps
Thomas Hennessy (LS) 17-0-0-0 0-129
Braden Mann (P/KO) 10-0-0-0 0-100
Matt Ammendola (K/KO) 11-0-0-0 0-87
Thomas Morstead (P) 7-0-0-0 0-46
Eddy Piñeiro (K) 5-0-0-0 0-19
Alex Kessman (K) 1-0-0-0 0-6

Finished on Practice Squad: Ammendola
No Longer on Roster: Morstead, Kessman
Reserve/Future Signing: Ammendola

Potential Free Agents in 2022

'22: The Berrios Decision
Braxton Berrios, listed at WR in our position-by-position series, merits a graph up top here because, of course, he was the NFL's leading kickoff returner (30.4 yards/return) and No. 3 punt return (13.4 yards/return, at least 15 returns), was named All-Pro first-team by the AP, and was voted a Pro Bowl first alternate. Berrios can become unrestricted next month. As he said in January, "I'd love to be here, but that's something for, I guess, Jan. 10 [the day after the season finale at Buffalo]." And GM Joe Douglas said, in regard to the tough offseason calls ahead, "any decision we make is going to be in the best interest of the team now and moving forward."

Eddy Piñeiro can become a restricted FA and HC Robert Saleh, STC Brant Boyer and the Jets need to determine if he's the real deal or if they have to start over at the position. They released Matt Ammendola after 11 games last season but signed him three days later to their practice squad and a month after that to a reserve/future deal. If Piñeiro returns, the division of labor could continue since Mann in his nine games last year was one of the NFL's top kickoff touchback experts.

'21: Snap, Kick, Punt and Tackle
Hennessy remained the model of long-snapping consistency in getting the ball to his holder and his punter, and also added some tackles to his 18 kick-coverage takedowns that easily lead all NFL snappers in the past five seasons. Mann had ups and downs once he returned in Game 9 from his knee injury in the season opener. But the Jets' second-year punter increased both his gross (43.9 to 45.7) and net (37.2 to 40.6) punting averages, had 14 inside-20 punts to only one touchback, and had only two of 22 kickoffs that didn't go for touchbacks. Thomas Morstead did a fine job filling in for Mann with a 48.2 gross and 43.0 net on 23 punts. Piñeiro in the last five games of the season became only the second Jets' kicker to convert his first eight FG tries in green and white.

All the youth from last year and the coming offseason will help the Jets' ST units in the near-term, but two "old hands" led the kick coverage this past season. Now sixth-year CB Justin Hardee (12 tackles, 368 ST plays) and third-year LB Del'Shawn Phillips (11 tackles, 374 plays) were the top two in ST tackles and snaps for the Jets not only this season but for the past four seasons, or since Terrence Brooks logged 392 snaps and Rontez Miles made 16 tackles in 2017. (Neville Hewitt also had 11 tackles in '18.)

Hoyer's group, ranked first in the NFL in 2018 and third in 2019 in Rick Gosselin's special teams rankings, rebounded from last year's slip to 26th to come in 13th this past season. Punt return defense was the only one of the four return rankings that didn't finish in the league's top two, checking in at 28th.

ST Trivia
Piñeiro, once he was signed Dec. 6, steadied the Jets' placekicking situation at least for the rest of '21. From mid-2015 until Eddy P's arrival, the team had turned to 11 different kickers in a 101-game span.

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