NY Jets: Will the team re-sign or decline Brian Poole?

NY Jets, Brian Poole (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Brian Poole (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets won’t have too many difficult decisions to make with their pending free agents this offseason. But one of the most interesting cases revolves around nickel cornerback Brian Poole.

A former undrafted free agent, Poole signed with the Jets prior to the 2019 season after spending the first three years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. And he quickly emerged as one of the team’s best defensive players.

Poole put together the best year of his career in 2019 posting a spectacular Pro Football Focus grade of 79.0 that ranked ninth out of all cornerbacks in the NFL. And he followed that up with an equally impressive 2020 campaign.

He was limited to only nine games in 2020, but Poole still finished with a 77.1 PFF grade that ranked 11th at his position. After posting two consecutive excellent seasons, what will Poole’s market value be?

What is Brian Poole’s market value?

The Jets managed to re-sign Poole to a dirt-cheap one-year, $5 million contract last offseason despite his breakout campaign. And even with an injury-riddled 2020 season, it’s hard to imagine they can do the same this time around.

Projections for Poole’s contract seem to be all over the place at the moment. Spotrac projects that Poole will receive a meager two-year, $8.7 million contract giving him a lower AAV than he had a year ago.

Meanwhile, PFF projects that Poole could earn up to three years, $18 million which would increase his AAV to $6 million. It’s unclear how his market will develop, but I’d lean more toward the latter than the former.

Perhaps a two-year, $12 million contract seems reasonable given his level of play. You also have to consider that, despite its importance in NFL defenses, the nickel cornerback position is still incredibly undervalued around the league.

$6 million per season might seem like a steal, but it’s the going rate for an above-average slot corner — especially one turning 29-years-old in October.

Should the NY Jets re-sign Brian Poole?

Poole was his usual reliable, stellar self in 2020. Unfortunately, he dealt with both knee and shoulder issues, the latter of which required season-ending surgery after just nine games.

Still, in those nine games, he proved that 2019 was no one-year fluke.

The Jets would love to have Poole back in 2021, but there are a few other options on the open market if his market gets too expensive. K’Waun Williams is someone who has a lot of experience in Robert Saleh’s system and could come cheaper.

Other players such as Troy Hill or Mike Hilton could be suitable replacements with the former being arguably the best slot corner in football a year ago. Hilton is also only 26-years-old and has played very well over the past two seasons.

Also consider the fact that Poole’s best play has come in a man-heavy defense. With the switch to a more zone-centric system under Saleh, the Jets might not value Poole the same way they did a year ago.

Ultimately, they should look to bring him back, but only if the price is right. The market is deep this year.

Will the NY Jets re-sign Brian Poole?

The Jets want to bring Poole back, but it’s all going to depend on how his market develops. If some other team offers him a three-year, $21 million contract with $14 million in guarantees, it seems unlikely that the Jets will look to top that.

However, if they could re-sign him for a similar bargain to a year ago, they likely won’t hesitate.

I think the scheme fit is also something that isn’t being talked about as much as it should be. Poole struggled in 2017 and 2018 in a zone-heavy system with the Falcons. Will he fare any better this time around with the Jets?

It’s certainly something the organization will consider. That’s a conversation that Saleh and new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will need to have.

The fact that there are quality alternatives on the market (K’Waun Williams, Troy Hill, Mike Hilton, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Desmond King, etc.) makes it less likely that the Jets are willing to overpay for Poole.

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Right now, I’d put it at about a 50/50 chance that he’s back in 2021.

Odds of re-signing: 50 percent