NY Jets kick tires on another former All-Pro return specialist ahead of minicamp

The Jets are taking the NFL's new kickoff rules seriously
Jakeem Grant
Jakeem Grant / David Eulitt/GettyImages

There might not be a team in the league that is taking the NFL's new kickoff return rules more seriously than the NY Jets. The organization reaffirmed their commitment to their new roster-building strategy on Monday.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero is reporting that the Jets are bringing in former All-Pro return specialist Jakeem Grant on a tryout basis ahead of the team's mandatory minicamp this week.

Grant is the latest player with significant experience as a returner who the Jets have brought in this spring, joining recent free-agent addition Tarik Cohen and undrafted signings such as Brandon Codrington and Hamze El-Zayat.

Much like Cohen, Grant is a former All-Pro return specialist who has missed considerable time due to injury. The former Miami Dolphins wide receiver hasn't played a game since 2021 after tearing his Achilles and suffering a serious knee injury in consecutive summers.

The Jets are kicking the tires on Grant, similar to the Cohen situation, with the hope that he might still have some juice left to contribute as a returner.

The NY Jets are very serious about teh NFL's new kickoff rules

The NFL adopted new kickoff rules this offseason that are modeled after the format used by the XFL. Kickers will still kick off from their own 35-yard line, but the other 10 members of the kicking team will now line up at the opposing team's 40-yard line.

The return team will have at least nine blockers lined up in what is referred to as the "set up zone" between the 30 and 35-yard line, with a minimum of seven of those players touching the 35. Up to two returners are allowed inside the 20-yard line.

Only the kicker and returners are allowed to move until the ball hits the ground or is touched by a returner inside the 20. The goal is to not only make the kickoff return safer but more exciting for the sport.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters this spring that his team anticipates returners to receive as many as 100 touches per season with the new rules. That's a massive change from what the kickoff has become in recent years.

That's why the Jets, likely at the behest of special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, are taking this change so seriously. A dynamic return specialist could be a legitimate weapon for NFL teams.

Boyer has significant say in roster decisions when it comes to special teams, so it's very likely the Cohen signing and Grant tryout were heavily influenced by the veteran coach. Even Codrington, a UDFA signing, was listed as a "return specialist" when he was signed.

The Jets are committed to getting this right. Whether it's Cohen, Grant, rookie Malachi Corley, or some undrafted free agent, the Jets plan to take full advantage of the NFL's new kickoff rules in 2024.