NY Jets should still make signing Logan Ryan a priority

NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets have added plenty of cornerback depth over the past few days, but that shouldn’t stop them from targeting Logan Ryan in free agency.

The NY Jets have already done an excellent job of remaking what was a very underwhelming cornerback depth chart in 2019. Just in the past week alone they’ve added a handful of players who will compete for playing time at the position.

But that doesn’t mean that their work should be done.

The Jets drafted Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall in the fifth round and used one of their two sixth-round picks to acquire former second-round pick Quincy Wilson from the Indianapolis Colts.

Combine that with the drafting of hybrid defensive back Ashtyn Davis and the signing of three undrafted free agents who all have experience at cornerback and you have quite the crowded depth chart.

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These players have upside and the potential to not only be contributors down the line, but fill that role in 2020. However, upside doesn’t always equal production.

While the Jets cornerback position might look improved on paper, there are still a large number of question marks. For the sake of this, we will also ignore nickel cornerback Brian Poole as he undoubtedly has the slot role locked down.

Projected No. 1 cornerback Pierre Desir is coming off a lackluster, injury-riddled campaign with the Colts. Blessuan Austin had less than half a season of solid production and missed essentially all of the previous two seasons with torn ACL’s.

And outside of them, Wilson was abysmal last season in Indianapolis and is no lock to make the roster and Hall is a fifth-round rookie who is also coming off a serious injury.

Again, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the young crop of cornerbacks the Jets have brought in, but none of them are sure things.

However, the closest thing the team would have to a sure thing remains unsigned on the open market.

Veteran Logan Ryan has surprisingly gone unsigned nearly into May and he will surely have plenty of teams coveting him now that the draft has passed. And if the Jets are smart, they’ll be at the top of that list.

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Ryan is a seven-year pro who has started 72 games over the past five seasons. From his time with the New England Patriots to his three-year stint in Tennessee, Ryan has proved to be a quality starting cornerback and a reliable member of any secondary.

Last season, the 29-year-old earned a respectable 64.9 grade from Pro Football Focus and intercepted four passes, his most since the 2015 season. He has the versatility to play both in the slot and on the boundary — the latter where he would likely play in New York.

Of the remaining options on the market, he’s likely the most experienced and he would hold that same designation with the Jets. So the question is, why not try and sign him?

While it would be great to see the Jets’ young cornerbacks like Austin and Hall — not to mention undrafted players like Lamar Jackson or Javelin Guidry — take the opportunity and run with it, it just wouldn’t be smart to count on them in starting roles in 2020.

Adding Ryan would give the team an established starting cornerback and take the pressure of Austin and Hall. Not to mention it would allow Desir to slip more into a No. 2 role and even compete with the younger players on the roster for playing time.

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Increased competition is always a good thing, especially when the player you’re bringing in is more experienced and accomplished than any current player on the roster.

Given the time of year, there are conflicting reports as to how much cap space the Jets actually have at their disposal (the draft pool and Trumaine Johnson situation allows for these contradictions).

OverTheCap.com projects the Jets at around $19 million in cap space whereas Spotrac estimates their space under the top-51 (the 51 players who currently count towards the salary cap) at around $16 million.

Either figure would leave the Jets plenty of room to sign Ryan at what will likely be a one-year deal for around $6-8 million with added incentives (just my personal estimation).

And even if they needed to clear room, they have options. Ryan would likely bring more value to the team than Brian Winters‘ $8+ million salary would. You could argue the same for Avery Williamson as well.

Both players could be cut with little-to-no penalty.

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The Jets can sign Logan Ryan and given the uncertain state of their cornerback room, it seems like a no-brainer.