8 players the NY Jets gave up on way too soon

NY Jets, Demario Davis
NY Jets, Demario Davis / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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NY Jets honorable mentions

Leonard Williams, DE/DT

Leonard Williams had a very good four and a half years with the Jets' organization, but it wasn't until he was traded to the cross-stadium Giants that he became a true star. Williams' 11.5 sacks in 2020 were a career-high and would have been the most by a Jets player in half a decade.

Williams hasn't reached those heights since (which is why he's only an honorable mention), but it's fair to suggest that he saved his best football for the Giants. He remains a key cog in the middle of their defense.

Keyshawn Johnson, WR

Keyshawn Johnson's talent has never been in question, and it's certainly not the reason he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the 2000 season. Johnson's off-field antics and attitude are what led the Jets to send him packing, but he still found plenty of success elsewhere.

Johnson won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, made a Pro Bowl, totaled six seasons with at least 800 yards, and had a career-best season in 2001. Was trading him still the right move? Perhaps, but he certainly succeeded in his post-Jets career.

Darrelle Revis, CB

The Jets traded another homegrown superstar, Darrelle Revis, to the Buccaneers over a decade later. This time, Revis would spend one year in Tampa Bay and another in New England before returning to the Jets in 2015.

Revis only spent two years away from the Jets, but in those two years, he earned multiple Pro Bowl honors and was named a first-team All-Pro. Revis' Jets career didn't exactly end on a high note, but it's fair to wonder what might have happened if he didn't leave the team in the first place.

Geno Smith, QB

It's too soon to make Geno Smith anything other than an honorable mention on this list, but he deserves that honor. After a decade of bouncing around the NFL as a backup, Smith finally received a starting opportunity again in 2022, and he exceeded any and all expectations.

Smith was genuinely one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, as evidenced by his Pro Bowl appearance. It's hard to argue the Jets made a mistake here, but Smith certainly saved his best years for his post-Jets career.