These teams could end up releasing LB targets for the New York Jets
The New York Jets‘ approach at the linebacker position this offseason has been fascinating. There were chances in both free agency and the draft for New York to add an upgrade. Ultimately, Joe Douglas invested his substantial resources elsewhere.
We know what to expect from C.J. Mosley, but there is room to grow with younger players like Quincy Williams, Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, and potentially even undrafted free agent DQ Thomas as well. Adding a known commodity into the competition could be beneficial for the Jets’ defense, especially when it comes to stopping the run, an area of the team that has to be better.
After recently looking at each depth chart across the league, I found there are a few teams with quality depth at the linebacker position who may soon release a quality player or two.
Let’s take a look at some notable linebackers the Jets could target at some point over the coming months.
Travin Howard, Free Agent
To start, one player who is already available after being somewhat of a surprise release just a few days ago is Travin Howard. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the seventh round of the 2018 draft and spent his entire career with them up until being waived.
Howard played in 28 games over the last two years. Each season, he recorded three passes defended. Howard also had an interception last season and contributed to the Rams’ Super Bowl run.
Zach Baun, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints drafted Zach Baun in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. To this point, Baun has only played 276 snaps defensively across 32 games, mostly playing on special teams.
The Saints’ two starters at linebacker are Demario Davis and Pete Werner. Recently, they signed Eric Wilson. Baun was a respected prospect not too long ago and could be available.
Krys Barnes, Green Bay Packers
Krys Barnes was an undrafted rookie in 2020 and has spent his first two seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Throughout his first two years, Barnes has played in 29 games and accumulated 948 snaps. He totaled 80 tackles as a rookie and 81 last season.
With the Packers re-signing De’Vondre Campbell to a five-year contract and then drafting Quay Walker in the first round, Barnes could potentially be had.
Chazz Surratt, Minnesota Vikings
Just last year, the Minnesota Vikings drafted Chazz Surratt in the third round. Now, looking at their depth chart, he may not get too many defensive reps. With Eric Kendricks, the signing of Jordan Hicks, and the third-round pick of Brian Asamoah, the opportunities for Surratt may be slim.
Surratt was drafted while Mike Zimmer was the head coach and now the Vikings are set to run a different defense. In his rookie year, Surratt showed some special teams ability but didn’t get to play any defensive snaps.
Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Deion Jones has been mentioned as a possible target for the Jets on a few occasions this offseason. Jones has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
Set to turn 28 in November, Jones spent five years in Atlanta with Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who served as the Falcons’ linebackers coach. Jones has attained some great success throughout his career (2017 Pro Bowler) and is certainly the biggest name the Jets could acquire at linebacker.
This offseason at linebacker, the Falcons signed Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski while also drafting Troy Andersen in the third round. Jones is entering the third year of a four-year contract extension and some in the Atlanta media believe it is “imminent” that the Falcons will trade or release Jones.
Teams with depth
Two particular teams have good depth at the position, which could lead to a linebacker being on the market.
The Cleveland Browns could have a young linebacker shake loose. They have 2021 second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and re-signed Anthony Walker. From there, they have three more young linebackers in Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, and Tony Fields who may be relegated to reserve roles.
The second team is Robert Saleh’s former squad, the San Francisco 49ers. They have one of the league’s best linebackers in Fred Warner. In free agency, they signed Oren Burks to a two-year deal. From there, they have three younger players in contract years, all of whom have one year of experience with Saleh in Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. Possibly, one could be made available.