5 under-the-radar fits for the NY Jets in 2022 free agency

NY Jets, Maxx Williams
NY Jets, Maxx Williams / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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NY Jets
NY Jets, Jayron Kearse / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

1. NY Jets target: Jayron Kearse, S, Dallas Cowboys

Jayron Kearse very quietly had a strong season for Dallas in 2021. Despite sharing playing time as a safety/linebacker hybrid for the Cowboys alongside Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal in Dan Quinn's defensive scheme, the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Kearse graded out exceptionally well.

It's a system that is very similar to the Jets defense run by Jeff Ulbrich. Pro Football Focus gave Kearse a 76.8 grade last season after playing over 1,000 snaps for the Cowboys. He only missed four tackles in 2021.

Because the 28-year-old Kearse can be classified as a one-year wonder and a scheme-specific tweener, there might not be a strong market for his services, but Dallas would love to keep him. He could command a three-year deal in the $15-20 million range and a workable contract for New York.

The Jets can swoop in and sign a player who would be an excellent fit for their defense. A year ago, New York targeted Keanu Neal to play a similar role.

Kearse might not have the same cache as other safeties on the market, but that could play into the Jets' favor. And from an economic and football standpoint, Kearse could provide the best return value for the Jets. He can cover tight ends and help play in space.

A year ago, the Jets did not have that type of player at safety. Kearse can fill both roles in coverage and near the line of scrimmage. In a sense, it's like signing two players at once.