NY Jets: Byron Jones should be a top priority in free agency

NY Jets (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets should be given the opportunity to land Byron Jones in free agency with the report that the Dallas Cowboys are expected to let him hit the open market.

The NY Jets will go into this offseason looking to make major splashes in both the 2020 NFL Draft and free agency. And one free agent they should have the opportunity to target this March is cornerback Byron Jones.

Jones has been among the best cornerbacks in the NFL for the past few years and despite lackluster interception numbers, he has a very favorable reputation as a shutdown man-cover corner.

Fortunately, for the rest of the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys might not be able to keep him around for much longer.

Dallas is in a bit of a cap bind with players such as Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper set to hit free agency this offseason on top of Jones. And it seems as though the Cowboys are prepared to prioritize their two offensive stars over their shutdown cornerback.

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NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that the Cowboys are expected to place the franchise tag on Prescott and try to work out a long-term extension with Cooper.

As a result, Rapoport insists that Dallas is expected to let Jones test free agency.

Jones has just two interceptions over his five-year career, but the former UConn star has been one of the best defensive backs in the NFL since switching over to cornerback full-time in 2018.

In 2019, Jones surrendered just 5.1 yards per target which ranked second among all cornerbacks. Pro Football Focus named Jones the sixth-highest graded cornerback in 2018 and his 76.1 grade in 2019 was still among the better corners in the NFL.

He’s one of the best in the league — and he expects to be paid as such.

Reports are that he and Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry are expected to “reset the cornerback market” this offseason with the two aiming for $15 million or more per season.

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That’s a large sum of money, but Jones plays one of the most valuable positions in the NFL and that position just so happens to be a major need for the Jets.

Gang Green will look to re-sign Brian Poole in free agency, but even if they do, the team doesn’t really have an answer for their two boundary cornerback roles.

Blessuan Austin impressed in his rookie season but his injury history and small sample size make it difficult to count on him as a starter in 2020. And there isn’t anyone else on the roster even worthy of consideration.

Of course, Jets fans will be snakebitten because of the horrendous Trumaine Johnson contract given out just a few years ago. Johnson is expected to be released this offseason, but the Jets will still be paying dearly for their mistake over the coming years.

But Jones is different.

He’s still only 27-years-old and is, in many ways, the opposite of everything Johnson was. Johnson made the splashy plays and racked up interceptions while Jones shuts down his half of the field and earns high praise from advanced analytics experts.

Johnson was all flash. Jones is all substance.

Jones would be the perfect free-agent splash for the Jets to make and now that it appears that he’ll be available, there’s no reason not to make him one of their top targets.

NY Jets: 3 players primed to take a huge leap in 2020. Next

If the Jets were smart, they’d bring Byron Jones to East Rutherford.