New York Jets: Top 3 potential replacements for Brian Poole in 2020
By Paul A. Esden Jr.
New York Jets corner Brian Poole is a pending free agent in 2020. Here are 3 potential replacements via free agency, trade, and the Draft.
The New York Jets have a ton of needs heading into 2020 and they’d be best served to try to plug as many of those as possible before the team reaches free agency in March. One of those key decisions is cornerback Brian Poole.
In 2019 the team got lucky stumbling into Poole. Brian spent the first three years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons Then he reached unrestricted free agency after outplaying his UDFA contract and was ready for a fresh start.
He signed a one-year prove-it deal for $3.5 million with the New York Jets last offseason and boy did the team cash in.
Brian started in a career-high 10 games, got the first defensive touchdown of his career, and finished up as one of the highest-rated cornerbacks in football.
There are a lot of unknowns during this time of the year, but one thing is for certain, Brian Poole is going to be paid by someone this offseason. Hopefully, it’s the New York Jets especially since they have north of $60 million in cap space not including some additional room they can create (full details here).
One of the top needs for the Jets this offseason is cornerback regardless of what happens with Poole. If the Jets move on from Brian Poole this offseason we researched the top three potential replacements the team should explore in free agency, the trade market, and of course the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: 3. Free agency
If the New York Jets lose Brian Poole, free agency would be a very solid place to look for a replacement.
There will be plenty of cornerbacks available, but for the green and white to replace Poole they’ll need to find a slot cornerback.
Mackensie Alexander checks off all the boxes you look for.
The 26-year-old corner has great roots from his days at Clemson and he still has a lot of potential that is still untapped. Alexander has only started 10 games in his four-year career, but he’s banged out a ton of production: 21 combined pass deflections, two career interceptions, 4.5 sacks, 102 combined tackles, 81 solos, eight quarterback hits.
His ability as a pass rusher (recorded a career-high four sacks back in 2018) could be a great fit for Gregg Williams.
Over the last two years, he earned the trust of Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and became the team’s primary slot corner. After a few years on the outside, it seemed like he really came into his own as a nickleback.
Also if the New York Jets sign Mackensie Alexander it’ll make up for lost time. Alexander was the 54th overall pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. If you remember the green and white selected quarterback Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall pick in the same 2016 NFL Draft.
Let’s take a painful trip down nostalgia lane to see some of the players the Jets passed up on to take Hackenberg:
- Deion Jones, linebacker, LSU
- Kevin Byard, safety, Middle Tennessee State
- Yannick Ngakoue, defensive end, Maryland
Also, a few players that were taken just before the Jets were on the clock included running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver Michael Thomas.
With those painful memories out of the way, let’s make some positive memories. Signing Mackensie Alexander would be a great first step.
Something to keep an eye out for ahead of free agency:
Mackensie Alexander recently had an operation to repair a meniscus tear, but should be ready to for a team’s offseason activity programs.
Next: 2. Trade
In this series of articles, free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft are the easiest opportunities to explore because it’s a one-way street. You can draft whoever you want as long as you have the pick. While in free agency you can sign whoever you want if you have the money.
In a trade it takes two to tango.
In this specific situation, the New York Jets take advantage of being in the right place at the right time. The Los Angeles Rams are in salary cap hell and are looking to shed salary.
The Rams have the eighth-lowest salary cap in the NFL per Spotrac. That figure is only going to get lower knowing the Rams have to hand cornerback Jalen Ramsey a fat extension that’ll make him the highest-paid cornerback in football.
So with that being the case the Jets swoop in and take advantage of the situation.
Nickell Robey-Coleman is young (27, will be 28 by the start of the 2020 season), is cheap (only has one year left on his contract at $4.5 million), and would be a seamless fit.
If you don’t know who Robey-Coleman is re-watch the NFC Championship game from last year on the missed pass interference call. Oh yeah, that’s him hopefully he isn’t doing those kinds of plays for the New York Jets.
Next: 1. 2020 NFL Draft
Considering all the injuries the New York Jets suffered during the 2019 season, it makes sense to approach the 2020 NFL Draft looking for versatility.
Once the green and white watch Shyheim Carter’s tape, they can stop their search.
Carter is a 6-foot, 195-pound cornerback/safety/plug-and-play stud. He played the ‘star’ position for the Alabama Crimson Tide. It’s the same position that was held by former first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick who is lighting things up in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At the next level, he has the potential to be a really good slot corner.
While his stats won’t blow you away from his days with the Alabama Crimson Tide, he is better than his stats indicate:
2016: (three games), seven total tackles.
2017: (seven games), seven total tackles and a pass deflection.
2018: (12 games), 43 total tackles, 26 solos, 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, two touchdowns, and a forced fumble.
2019: (12 games), 43 total tackles, 24 solos, 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception, and a forced fumble.
Here are some more thoughts on his game via The Draft Network:
“Stays low and activates hands when initiating/preparing for contact. Has requisite athleticism to tag slot receivers and backs in man coverage with good straight-line burst. Physical within the contact window, sometimes overly so. Very heady player in zone and match situations who regularly makes audible calls for defense and redirects his teammates in match coverage. Willing to peel off of assignments to make other defenders correct. Can play the ball through the hands with good recognition and instincts.”