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Jets Early Roster Preview: Cornerbacks

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Trumaine Johnson #22 of the New York Jets celebrates an interception during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 9, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Trumaine Johnson #22 of the New York Jets celebrates an interception during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 9, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets cornerbacks suffered an injury riddled 2018. With a new look in 2019, they look to become a lockdown unit.

The 2018 season was a year to forget for Jets cornerbacks. For some, it was a struggle to stay on the field. For others, it was just a bad season as a whole. Overall, the season certainly wasn’t one to remember.

Trumaine Johnson, the team’s big ticket free agent signing in the 2018 offseason, was a little disappointing last season. He missed six games mostly due to a quad injury, which was a killer for the Jets’ secondary. When he was on the field, his play was solid, but not worthy of the $26 million he made in just last season alone.

He led the team in interceptions with 4, but his 5 passes defended were underwhelming. He ranked 24th among cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 74.9. The Jets are locked into Johnson’s contract at least until 2021, so all they can do is hope he can go back to his days as a shutdown cornerback for New Jack City.

The Jets decided to not pursue re-signing Morris Claiborne after his second year with the team. Claiborne was a solid player during his two year tenure in New York, reeling in three interceptions and defending 22 passes. Most importantly, he was able to stay healthy for the two seasons, playing in 30 of his 32 games as a Jet.

There is still speculation of possibly bringing back Claiborne to strengthen the cornerback unit, which looks thin as of now. Since new GM Joe Douglas took over, those rumors have quieted down. It looks like Claiborne’s time with the Jets is over, but you never know.

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The Jets will likely fill Claiborne’s spot with Darryl Roberts, who started in 10 games due to the absences of Trumaine Johnson and Marcus Maye. Roberts turned into a key player for the Jets in 2018, playing all over the secondary to comply with injuries suffered in the secondary.

Roberts had an interception, 7 passes defended, and 48 tackles, including 3 tackles for loss, in 2018. He’ll likely take over Claiborne’s spot as the second outside cornerback, lining up opposite of Johnson. He’s proven he can take on a starting role, and at 28 years old, he looks to make the most out of his prime years.

In the slot for New Jack City in 2019 will likely be Brian Poole, who was brought to the team on a one year deal this year in free agency. Poole spent his previous years in Atlanta, where he had 4 interceptions and an impressive 195 tackles in his first three years in the league. The Falcons let him walk in free agency, and the Jets signed him to a one year prove-it deal.

Poole will take Buster Skrine’s spot in the secondary. Skrine left for the Bears in free agency after playing in New York for 4 seasons. Skrine was a solid player during his time with the Jets, but his legacy with the team will likely be remembered as him being a penalty machine.

The Jets have extremely thin depth at corner as of now. After having a solid backup in Roberts during 2018, the Jets number one backup cornerback in 2019 will likely be Parry Nickerson or Derrick Jones, who are both young, raw players who likely need another year or two to develop. If the Jets corners can’t stay healthy in 2019, it may turn into a serious problem.

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