Free Agency

4 pending NY Jets free agents that won't be back in 2022

NY Jets, Jamison Crowder
NY Jets, Jamison Crowder / Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com /
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NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd / Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

4. Nathan Shepherd, DT, NY Jets

It's somewhat of a miracle that Nathan Shepherd has managed to hang around throughout the entirety of his rookie contract. But even at 28-years-old, the former Division-II standout is still contributing as a regular part of the Jets' defensive line rotation.

But that doesn't mean he's particularly effective. In fact, he's been more of a liability than an asset this season.

In 11 games, Shepherd's 40.5 Pro Football Focus grade ranks 121st out of 123 qualified interior defensive linemen. He's been one of the worst defensive linemen in football.

Despite this, he's still played a puzzling high 36 percent of defensive snaps this season. The Jets coaching staff seems to like him as a quality backup defensive tackle, but the numbers nor his production would support that.

Nonetheless, Shepherd's rookie contract expires at the end of the season and it seems rather unlikely that the Jets look to bring him back.

The team drafted Jonathan Marshall in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft in part to replace Shepherd as the top backup three-technique in the Jets' defensive-line rotation.

I wouldn't expect the Jets to spend money on an underperforming 28-year-old backup defensive tackle in free agency, especially when they have a younger alternative waiting in the wings.

Nathan Shepherd lasted longer with the Jets than most probably expected him to, but don't expect him to be on the roster come the start of the 2022 season.

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