3 former NY Jets players who failed with their new team in 2023

These former Jets fell short of expectations in 2023

Nathan Shepherd
Nathan Shepherd / Ric Tapia/GettyImages
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1. Nathan Shepherd, DT, New Orleans Saints

Former third-round pick Nathan Shepherd helped parlay a mediocre five-year stint with the Jets into a surprising three-year, $15 million contract with the New Orleans Saints last offseason.

It was a sizable payday for a player who had genuinely been on the roster bubble in each of his last few seasons with the Jets. The Saints didn't pay him that money to fill a rotational role either — the plan was for him to start.

Shepherd started all 17 games for the Saints in 2023, playing a career-high 54 percent of his team's defensive snaps. He did manage to set a new career-high with 3.5 sacks, but the underlying numbers paint a different picture of how his first season in New Orleans went.

Shepherd finished with a disastrous 30.3 PFF run-block grade, which ranked 132nd out of 137 interior defensive linemen. His overall 47.5 PFF grade wasn't much better, ranking 111th out of 130 qualifiers.

He was a large reason why the Saints finished as a bottom-10 run defense in the NFL. It was far and away Shepherd's worst season as a run defender, at least as far as PFF grades are concerned.

Shepherd didn't exactly make up for it as a pass rusher, either. He still only managed 23 pressures all season despite playing nearly 600 defensive snaps.

Meanwhile, the Jets replaced Shepherd with Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas, who each went on to put together career years this past season at a fraction of the price the Saints paid Shepherd.

Credit to Shepherd for continuing to carve out a successful NFL career out of Division II Fort Hays State, but the Saints are likely already having buyer's remorse with his contract.