NY Jets hire Leon Washington as a special teams assistant

NY Jets, Leon Washington Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets, Leon Washington Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets are adding a familiar face to their coaching staff in the form of former running back and kick returner Leon Washington.

The Jets announced on Wednesday that Washington would be joining the Jets’ coaching staff as a special teams assistant. A fitting role seeing as though the former NFL player made a living on special teams.

Leon Washington was originally a fourth-round pick of the Jets in the 2006 NFL Draft. And while he originally received significant playing time on offense, it was his performance in the return game that helped him cement a legacy.

The Florida State product started eight games in his rookie season rushing for what would end up being a career-high 650 yards on 4.3 yards per carry. But his second season saw his true breakout take place.

Leon Washington shined on special teams with the NY Jets

Washington took over as the primary return man and totaled nearly 1,300 yards on kick returns in 2007. He would lead the league with a whopping three kick return touchdowns averaging 27.5 yards per return.

His production wouldn’t slow down from there as Washington would make his first Pro Bowl in 2008 as well as earn first-team All-Pro honors for his work in the return game. The Florida native led the NFL in all-purpose yards that year.

Injuries hampered his 2009 season but he returned with a vengeance in 2010 scoring three more kick return touchdowns en route to a 1,400-yard season as a kick returner. Washington had cemented his legacy with the Jets.

New York shipped him off to Seattle in the offseason and he would find similar success there making his second Pro Bowl in 2012 and recording four more kick return touchdowns in three seasons.

He winded down his career with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans before retiring in 2014. And in 2019, he made his debut in the coaching world joining the Detroit Lions as WCF minority coaching assistantship/offense and special teams coach.

Washington helped the Lions out behind the scenes assisting them on offense, special teams, and even in the weight room. And now, he’s set to join the Jets’ coaching staff under new head coach Robert Saleh.

Saleh and Washington actually crossed paths in Seattle spending two seasons together with the Seahawks from 2011 to 2012 while the future Jets’ head coach was working as the team’s defensive quality control coach.

Washington will work under special-teams coordinator Brant Boyer and look to assist in all things special teams.

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It’s a reunion more than a decade in the making. One of the most beloved Jets players in recent memory has returned to New York.