The NY Jets have 21 unrestricted free agents who remain unsigned. One of those players they will have to make a decision on is veteran linebacker Brandon Copeland.
The NY Jets have a larger-than-normal number of free agents set to hit the open market this offseason. While the focus will definitely be on more high-profile names, one player who stands a good chance at being retained is veteran linebacker, Brandon Copeland.
Copeland originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Penn back in 2013. Originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens, Copeland would bounce around practice squads for a couple of seasons before finally seeing his first taste of NFL action in 2015.
The Ivy League product signed on with the Detroit Lions after being one of the only success stories out of the short-lived NFL Veterans Combine that the league ran. There, Copeland would finally see his first taste of NFL success.
The Maryland native would play in all 32 games from 2015 to 2016 participating almost exclusively on special teams while tallying his first half-sack. Unfortunately, he would tear his pectoral in the first preseason game of 2017 and subsequently be ruled out for the season.
But in March of 2018, Copeland signed on with the Jets where he would find his most success as a professional. The 28-year-old would start 10 of 16 games in 2018 amassing five sacks and 14 QB hits which were among the best numbers on the team.
And after being suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season, Copeland would return in a semi-regular role playing in all 12 remaining games making three starts while serving as a key contributor on special teams.
But after two seasons with Gang Green, will Copeland be back with the team in 2020?
Should the Jets re-sign him?
Copeland has been a reliable role player the last two seasons and an important part of the special teams equation. While he’s certainly not a starting-caliber edge rusher, his versatility has proven very useful in the past.
With injuries to numerous inside linebackers this past season, Copeland was even asked to play some off-ball linebacker — a departure from his typical edge rusher role.
And to his credit, he filled the role better than you could ever expect a former 4-3 defensive end to have done so.
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His ability to play either edge rusher or off-ball linebacker in a pinch should give him value as a dependable backup while his special teams contributions should endear him to the coaching staff.
Only five players played more snaps on special teams than Copeland in 2019 which is even more impressive given the fact that the Penn product missed four games with his suspension.
Despite the fact that he will be 29-years-old in July, Copeland is a serviceable backup who could probably be brought back for cheap making a possible re-signing worth exploring.
Will the Jets re-sign him?
It’s always difficult to predict what will happen with back-of-the-roster veterans like Brandon Copeland, but my gut says that the Jets will try and keep him around.
The coaching staff has expressed their admiration for Copeland and his familiarity with special teams coach Brant Boyer should go a long way towards him being retained in the offseason.
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes even named him as one of the low-profile free agents he expects the Jets to re-sign this spring. His positive locker-room influence and quietly solid production over the last two years might convince the Jets to bring him back.
Combine that with his positional versatility and special teams presence and he has a better chance of sticking around than most other free agents on the roster.
But as is the case with veteran reserves, you just never know.
Odds of re-signing: 55%