Who are some under-the-radar defensive targets for the New York Jets in free agency?
It is safe to say that New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh will look to bolster a defense that struggled greatly a year ago, ranking 32nd in points allowed (29.6 per game) and yards allowed (397.6).
There are multiple positions they could look to drastically improve in free agency. On all three levels of the Jets’ defense, new starters will be needed.
Accumulating quality depth will be important this offseason as well. That is especially true on the defensive line, where bringing in proven veterans would be wise to maintain a deep rotation that can keep everyone fresh.
Let’s go over 10 of the most underrated defensive free agent targets for the Jets.
- Rasheem Green, Seattle Seahawks
- Efe Obada, Buffalo Bills
- Charles Harris, Detroit Lions
- Al-Quadin Muhammad, Indianapolis Colts
Rasheem Green just completed a career year with the Seahawks. He is a young player who will only be turning 25 in May.
Green would be an exciting addition for New York. He offers great positional flexibility as he can play many positions across the defensive line. The former third-round pick played all 17 games last season (846 snaps), recording 6.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, and even four pass deflections.
Efe Obada is a good pass-rushing defensive lineman who provides versatility. He is going into his eighth NFL season and will be turning 30 in April.
Obada would provide good pass-rushing depth. Over the last two seasons, Obada has had solid production getting after the quarterback (nine sacks and 23 quarterback hits). He can rush from the edge and on the inside.
Charles Harris is a former first-round pick who just had his best season. He finished the 2021 season with 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits.
Harris is going into his sixth year and will be turning 27 in March. If the Jets look to add pass-rushing depth on the edge alongside Bryce Huff, Harris could be a potential fit.
Al-Quadin Muhammad spent the last four seasons with the Colts and will be turning 27 in March. He is coming off of his most productive year and would provide serviceable edge depth.
Last year, Muhammad started all 17 games for the Colts (801 snaps). He totaled six sacks and 13 quarterback hits.
- Quinton Jefferson, Las Vegas Raiders
If the Jets decide to move on from Sheldon Rankins, Quinton Jefferson could be a viable replacement. He is going to be entering his seventh NFL season.
As an interior pass rusher, Jefferson could provide a good boost. Last year, he started in all 17 games he played for the Raiders and recorded a career-best of 4.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits.
- Kenny Young, Denver Broncos
Kenny Young has spent four NFL seasons with three different teams (Ravens, Rams, and Broncos). He has played in 59 games throughout his career and has 25 starts.
In 2021, Young started all 13 games he played in. He finished the season with 75 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. If the Jets look to pursue a linebacker to start alongside C.J. Mosley in free agency, Young is worth keeping an eye on.
- Anthony Averett, Baltimore Ravens
Anthony Averett spent his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens. Over the last two years, he got increased playing time and showed some potential.
Averett recorded 18 passes defended over the last two seasons in only 24 games (just 18 starts). This past season, Averett had three interceptions and 11 passes defended.
The Woodbury, N.J. native has great speed (4.36 forty time) to go with his play-making ability on the football – two things the Jets secondary could use. Averett will turn 28 this November.
- DeShon Elliott, Baltimore Ravens
- M.J. Stewart, Cleveland Browns
- Ronnie Harrison, Cleveland Browns
DeShon Elliott was a part of the same Ravens draft class as Averett. Elliott was in a starting role the last two seasons and showed some promise.
Since becoming a starter, Elliott has six tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, and 3.5 sacks in 22 games, although his coverage playmaking is not great (six passes defended and one interception). Elliott is still a young player who will turn 25 in April and would be a significant upgrade over what the Jets have at safety.
M.J. Stewart spent his first two NFL seasons with the Buccaneers and the last two with the Browns. He is a versatile defensive back with experience as a slot corner and safety.
Stewart has been productive the last two years. In 2020, Stewart had two interceptions, three passes defended, and one sack. Last year, he had four passes defended, 47 tackles, and two tackles for loss.
Ronnie Harrison is a tall (6-foot-3) strong safety with a lot of experience throughout his four NFL seasons (51 games played and 40 starts). Harrison is still a young player who will turn 25 in April.
Each year of his career, Harrison has had at least one interception, one sack, and one quarterback hit. He has 22 career passes defended (5.5 per year). In 2021, Harrison posted a career-high of four tackles for loss.
Takeaways for the Jets
With all of the rotating the Jets did with their defensive line a year ago, having quality backup options on the market is a nice luxury.
In the back seven, outside of C.J. Mosley, there is a ton of youth on the roster. Being able to acquire at least one under-the-radar veteran would be ideal.
For the Jets to start getting their defense right, it will be important to bring in proven players.