7 remaining free agents with prior NY Jets connections

NY Jets, Kwon Alexander
NY Jets, Kwon Alexander / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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NY Jets
NY Jets, Takkarist McKinley / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

6. NY Jets target: Malcolm Smith, LB

Malcolm Smith is best known for his heroics in Super Bowl XLVIII which made him one of just seven defensive players in league history to win Super Bowl MVP. However, aside from that one game, he's been primarily a role player throughout his career.

Smith spent the first four seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks alongside then-Seahawks defensive quality control coach, Robert Saleh. Saleh loved Smith so much that he pushed to reunite with him upon being named the 49ers' defensive coordinator in 2017.

Smith never lived up to the five-year, $26.50 million contract he signed with the 49ers prior to the 2017 season, due in part to a torn pectoral that cost him his entire first year in San Francisco.

Still, at 33 years old, Smith has enough left in the tank to be a valuable addition to the Jets' roster. The Jets are thin at linebacker and Smith's extensive experience in a Robert Saleh defense could go a long way toward allowing him to mentor some of the younger players on the team.

5. NY Jets target: Takkarist McKinley, DE

Injuries have derailed the once-promising career of former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley. McKinley registered 13.0 sacks in his first two years in Atlanta, helped by the guidance of Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

However, he's managed just seven sacks over the last three seasons and has been hit hard by the injury bug. Right now, he's recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered back in December and it's unclear when he'll be ready to step back on the field.

That said, if McKinley is healthy, the Jets could take a look. The former UCLA star has experience playing in a similar system under Ulbrich in Atlanta and could bolster an already-deep Jets' pass-rush corps.

The Jets are stacked at defensive end, but if this offseason has proven anything it's that Robert Saleh believes you can never have too much pass-rush talent. McKinley checks a lot of boxes for Gang Green.