Analyzing the NY Jets' most underrated need with possible free-agent targets

The Jets have built a stacked roster, but safety remains a glaring hole
Tony Adams
Tony Adams / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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The NY Jets have retooled their offensive line, added much-needed depth to their wide receiver corps, reinvigorated the QB room, and return a star-studded defensive line, linebacking corps, and a cornerback trio that is the best in the league.

All of this is to say that the Jets have built a roster that can contend for a Super Bowl, but that doesn't mean that improvements aren't still needed. The defense in particular is a star-studded unit, however one unit, in particular, lacks star power: the safety room.

As was the case last season, safety is by far the weakest position on the defense and the team. Headlined by youngster Tony Adams the group should see a boost with the return of steady veteran Chuck Clark who missed the 2023 season with a torn ACL. Clark replacing the erratic Jordan Whitehead is a boost for sure

But is it enough? For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the answer may be no. While Adams showed some flashes, highlighted by 3 interceptions on the year, he also had his fair share of struggles. Chuck Clark will be a reliable presence next to him, but he's more of a box-type pseudo-linebacker than a back-end eraser.

Robert Saleh's scheme emphasizes versatile safeties who can do a bit of everything. That said the archetype for his defense is the Seattle Seahawks' fabled "Legion of Boom." Perhaps the lynchpins of that defense were the rangy Earl Thomas on the back end and the physical Kam Chancellor creating havoc in the box.

There are some intriguing but unproven pieces already on the roster that deserve a deeper dive.

1. NY Jets safety Chuck Clark returns

Chuck Clark was one of Joe Douglas's best acquisitions last offseason trading a seventh-round draft pick for a very solid starting caliber safety. Unfortunately, Clark tore his ACL in the offseason and never suited up for the team after being an iron man for the Baltimore Ravens the previous six years.

A former sixth-round pick, Clark has made a name for himself as an intelligent and fundamentally sound player. He's an extremely reliable tackler whose 8.3% missed tackle rate would've ranked 12th among all safeties with at least 500 snaps played last season.

Clark is not as renowned for his coverage ability but he has posted PFF coverage grades above 61 in each of his previous four seasons. For his career Clark has played a near-even split with 1,478 snaps as a box safety and 1,524 back deep at free safety providing the versatility that Saleh covets.

Still, there are some questions with Clark. The Ravens were willing to move on a year ago because they felt the need to upgrade their safety room; signing Marcus Williams and drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round making Clark expendable.

Most importantly, Clark is coming off a torn ACL, is 29 years old which is an age where athleticism begins to decline, and was not known for his speed to begin with.

His football IQ and solid fundamentals will allow him to contribute in the box, but it's questionable if he'll have the juice needed to patrol as a center fielder.