The NY Jets might not be playing in Super Bowl 55 on Sunday, but they’re going to be well-represented in the Big Game by former members of the organization.
Is that any consolation prize? Not really. But it might be nice to see some former players and coaches find success, even if it isn’t with the Jets.
In total, seven former individuals who at one point were part of the Jets’ organization will be taking the field this Sunday. Some will play big roles, others will be relatively inconsequential, but they’ll all be there.
So which players and coaches on the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had stints with the Jets in the past?
Which former NY Jets will be in Super Bowl 55?
The Buccaneers will have four former Jets set to take the field this Sunday, three of which are former members of the coaching staff. The only player on Tampa Bay who previously played for the Jets is nose tackle Steve McLendon.
McLendon is perhaps the most notable former Jets player in the game as the veteran plays an important role in the Bucs’ front seven rotation. And just a few months ago, he was playing for what was then the worst team in the NFL.
The Jets traded McLendon and a 2023 seventh-round pick to the Bucs for a 2022 sixth-round pick back in October. Since then, McLendon has become a valued member of Tampa’s defense and locker room.
And he’ll be coached by two of his former coaches in New York, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. Bowles, of course, served as the Jets’ head coach from 2015 to 2018, during which time Rodgers was his defensive coordinator.
In Tampa Bay, the two have helped orchestrate one of the best defensive units in the NFL. The Bucs had the league’s No. 1 run defense during the regular season and ranked sixth in yards allowed and eighth in scoring.
Another former Bowles-era coach followed his former head coach to Tampa Bay in current Bucs’ inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell.
Caldwell was Bowles’ assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach during his time with the Jets and has helped progress the career of former first-round pick Devin White in Tampa Bay.
As for the Chiefs, they’ll have a pair of former Jets players and one former assistant coach. Of course, the most notable of which is former star running back Le’Veon Bell.
Since being released by the Jets earlier in the season, Bell has gone on to feature marginally in the Chiefs’ offense. He only managed 254 yards on 63 carries in nine games with the Chiefs, but he could play a role in the Super Bowl.
The other player is former reserve nose tackle Mike Pennel who played in 32 games for the Jets from 2017 to 2018 making 10 starts. Pennel was a member of the Chiefs’ Super-Bowl-winning roster last year and he’s an integral part of their front-seven run defense.
Finally, Chiefs’ defensive backs coach Dave Merritt spent three seasons with the Jets from 2001 to 2003 where he served as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach under former head coach Herm Edwards.
Merritt will be looking for his fourth Super Bowl ring as he won two as a member of the New York Giants organization and one with the Chiefs last year.
The Jets will be well-respresented in Super Bowl 55 this year. Only not in the way that they likely would have preferred.