The NY Jets have signed nine undrafted free agents so far this offseason. But one of those players was given more guaranteed money than the rest.
The NY Jets added some youth to their roster with nine total selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they doubled that total if you count their undrafted free agents.
Every year, we tend to see at least one or two of these players find their way on to the final roster. Some stick around on the practice squad while others could develop into quality role players or even starters down the line.
Just one quick look at the Jets’ current roster shows plenty of former undrafted free agents who have had very respectable pro careers. Players like Brian Poole, Steve McLendon, Neville Hewitt, Jonotthan Harrison have solidified the notion that you don’t have to be a high draft pick to succeed in the NFL.
In fact, you don’t have to be a draft pick at all.
Last season, the Jets signed 16 undrafted free agents in the initial wave of signings. Of the 16 rookies, a few spent time on the practice squad with a couple even making it on to the active roster at points.
But the most successful of which has been defensive lineman Kyle Phillips. Phillips appeared in 15 games last season playing in exactly 50 percent of defensive snaps. The Tennessee product finished with 1.5 sacks and 39 tackles in what was a very encouraging rookie season.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets: 3 non-quarterback trade targets on offense
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
- NY Jets: Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Joe Thuney
And for the Jets, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Phillips was able to succeed in this way. The team handed him $30,000 in guaranteed money at the time of signing which may not seem like a lot but was the most the Jets gave out to any of their undrafted signings.
So who holds that distinction this season? What undrafted rookie should Jets fans be keeping their eyes on?
Is it big-bodied Georgia receiver Lawrence Cager? How about energetic Memphis edge rusher Bryce Huff? Perhaps it’s even the lightning-quick Utah cornerback Javelin Guidry.
The answer might surprise some people.
The Jets’ undrafted free agent with the most guaranteed money this season is none other than Washington offensive tackle Jared Hilbers, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Hilbers will be guaranteed a whopping $62,000 at signing — more than double what Phillips received last year.
The Jets are clearly high on Hilbers who will be competing for one of the final offensive line roster spots. While Mekhi Becton, Chuma Edoga, George Fant, and Cameron Clark are all guaranteed roster spots, Hilbers will be competing for the fourth/fifth tackle role.
Clark could kick inside to guard leaving room for either Hilbers or veteran Conor McDermott to secure a final roster spot. There’s no guarantee the Jets even carry that many tackles, but it’s clear that they’re high on Hilbers.
Even if he doesn’t make his way on to the active roster right away, expect him to be offered a spot on the practice squad provided another team doesn’t scoop him up.
Let’s see if history will repeat itself and if Hilbers will surprise just as Phillips did last year.