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Top 10 former New York Jets players in the NFL today

Demario Davis, NY Jets, Saints
Demario Davis, New York Jets, Getty Images

There are some former New York Jets players poised to play well for other teams in 2024

Well, obviously, this New York Jets article is about Mekhi Becton. Or so he would think.

Many players have come and gone from the Jets’ roster in the last decade. Considering the dearth of talent on the team over that playoff-less time period, most of them have faded into the night with nary a whimper. The Jets don’t have too many regrets about letting players go to succeed elsewhere — hence my general lack of concern that players like Becton or Zach Wilson will hit it big in Philadelphia and Denver, respectively.

Still, there are some former Jets who have gone on to be highly successful with their new teams, or at least are projected to do so. Here are the 10 most notable ex-Jets still on NFL rosters.

10. Blake Cashman, Texans

Joe Douglas was hailed as a hero when he turned Blake Cashman into a sixth-round pick. Then he went to Houston and put up a solid 2023 season in part-time duties. His 84.7 Pro Football Focus run defense grade was the ninth-highest among 66 qualified linebackers (min. 200 run defense snaps). He added an above-average 0.805 yards per cover snap (22nd/70 qualifiers) and 5.62 yards per target (7th). Having Brian Flores as his defensive coordinator could elevate his game to new heights in 2024.

9. Sheldon Rankins, Bengals

Losing Sheldon Rankins to the Texans in 2023 free agency forced them to begin platooning opposite Quinnen Williams. Rankins had a miserable first season with the Jets but rebounded to post strong numbers in 2022. With the Texans in 2023, he posted a putrid run defense grade (38.2) but was an above-average pass rusher with a 10.3% pressure rate. Rankins now moves on to Cincinnati and still projects to be a disruptive presence at age 30.

8. Quinton Jefferson, Browns

Lessening the sting of the Rankins loss was Quinton Jefferson’s performance for the Jets in 2023. He was just as bad against the run as Rankins (38.7 PFF run defense grade) but posted a superior pressure rate of 12.1%, albeit in a lesser role. Jefferson also tied Rankins with six sacks despite playing 248 fewer pass rush snaps. Jefferson signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Browns this offseason, and the Jets may rue the day that they chose to replace him with Javon Kinlaw for nearly double the price.

7. George Fant, Seahawks

George Fant rejuvenated his career in 2023. He protected C.J. Stroud to the tune of a 5.37% pressure rate, per PFF, which ranked 27th out of 81 qualified tackles. Though Fant has never been much of a run-blocker, posting a 53.8 PFF run-blocking grade that ranked 58th out of 70 qualifiers, his solid pass pro makes him a strong addition to Seattle’s offensive line. If he can stay upright as he did in 2023, Fant remains a solid tackle.

6. Frankie Luvu, Commanders

Frankie Luvu left the Jets for a two-year, $9 million deal with the Panthers. He promptly posted three consecutive seasons with a top-tier PFF run defense grade (including an elite 90.8 in 2022) and added superior blitzing skills to boot. Luvu had 5.5 sacks on just 104 pass rush snaps in 2023, adding 10 tackles for loss and five passes defensed. He’s now with the Commanders, and at age 28, he still has many impactful seasons ahead of him.

5. Geno Smith, Seahawks

I might rank Geno Smith lower coming off his 2023 season if not for the importance of the position he plays. The Jets would have been a playoff team in 2023 with Smith at the helm. Though he couldn’t match the 69.8% completion percentage, 4,282 yards, and 30 touchdowns that he threw for in 2022, Smith was still decent in 2023. He had 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions, posted a 47.2% success rate that ranked 11th in the NFL, and led the NFL with five game-winning drives.

Geno’s late-career resurgence was something no one saw coming.

4. Leonard Williams, Seahawks

Leonard Williams has never lived up to the draft hype, but he’s still been a solid player for a long time. He posted a 10.8% pressure rate in 2023 coupled with 14th-ranked 68.5 PFF run defense grade. His three-year, $64.5 million deal with Seattle is significantly higher than the production he’s posted on the field, but defensive tackles who are above average as both run defenders and pass rushers don’t grow on trees.

3. John Franklin-Myers, Broncos

It’s hard to know where to rank John Franklin-Myers because much of his impact on the game is silent. His biggest skill with the Jets was setting the edge, but he rarely made tackles or gained recognition for it. Franklin-Myers posted at least 50 pressures in four consecutive seasons with New York. Now he goes to Denver, where a possible willingness to move him inside more often could yield excellent pass-rushing results, even at the expense of his run defense.

2. Bryce Huff, Eagles

The only reason Bryce Huff doesn’t rank as the clear No. 1 on this list is that he has yet to prove he can still produce in a full-time role. That is likely what drove him to Philadelphia, so we’ll see how he fares in 2024.

Still, Huff’s numbers in 2023 as a pass rusher were off the charts: he tied with Micah Parsons for the highest pressure rate among 72 qualified edge rushers (20.1%), ranked third in true pass set pressure rate (25.4%), ranked third in pass rush win rate (22.9%), and posted 10 sacks while playing 42% of the Jets’ defensive snaps. The Jets replaced Huff with Haason Reddick, but they may rue the day that they stubbornly insisted on keeping Huff as a pass rush specialist.

1. Demario Davis, Saints

Demario Davis followed in Jonathan Vilma’s footsteps: he left to New Orleans and became one of the best linebackers in the league year-in and year-out. Davis has merely posted five consecutive seasons as a first- or second-team All-Pro. That could be close to Hall of Fame territory. Davis led all linebackers in 2023 in allowing just 4.3 yards per target and 0.360 yards per cover snap. The Jets should never have let Davis go the second time in favor of Avery Williamson.

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1 month ago

Frankie Luvu being 28 seems crazy to me. Feel like he should be much older.