NY Jets must get serious about adding a veteran cornerback

NY Jets, Bryce Hall
NY Jets, Bryce Hall / Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

All offseason long, the NY Jets have stuck to the script. They have backed their young cornerbacks all throughout training camp and the preseason.

Except, now their next game actually matters. It's not another part of the audition process to make the final 53-man roster — it is a welcome to the NFL in 2021.

As noteworthy as some of the younger cornerbacks' play has been, their inexperience is a glaring weakness. And with a hiccup in general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh’s plan, the time has come for the Jets to add a veteran cornerback.

Injuries along the NY Jets defensive front changed things

In the Jets' 4-3 defensive scheme, the team emphasizes generating a pass rush with their defensive line, while the linebackers and secondary focus on coverage. Moreover, rushers need to be able to consistently wreak havoc in the backfield.

When the Jets signed Carl Lawson to a three-year, $45 million deal in free agency, he was supposed to be their elite rusher. At the same time, guys like Vinny Curry and Ronald Blair were supposed to be depth pieces.

Instead, injuries have gotten in the way of that. Lawson and Curry are out the season, and the Jets' starting options at defensive end have thinned. Now the starters will likely consist of a combination of Blair, John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff, and the newly-acquired Shaq Lawson.

Even so, nobody can replace the impact Lawson would have had on the secondary. Having that fear-imposing rusher to put pressure on the quarterback is the best thing to offer a young corner. Without him, opposing quarterbacks will take advantage of the young player’s mistakes.

The NY Jets do not need a starter

A starting cornerback would be a nice addition. However, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the experiment for Douglas and Saleh? They wanted to test their corners and see who can be building blocks moving forward.

Should the Jets add a true starting cornerback, such as Richard Sherman, it would take away from their reps. In other words, the Jets need to search for someone to come in from a leadership perspective, who knows what to expect on Sundays this year.

There are not many cornerbacks left on the market. Dre Kirkpatrick, Quinton Dunbar, and Phillip Gaines are some of the bigger-named players remaining.

Meanwhile, Jamar Taylor and B.W. Webb are two players who are unsigned that played under Saleh during his time with the San Francisco 49ers.

Development is the goal for the NY Jets

By adding one of those previously mentioned players, the Jets would add a mentor to their cornerback unit.

One that can help guide anticipated starters Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin, who combine for only 23 career starts. The same can be said about slot corner Javelin Guidry, as he enters his second season out of Utah.

All while 2021 NFL Draft picks Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols would not need to be rushed. They could take the time necessary to learn from the sideline before taking the field. As impressive as their play has been, all have had their lapses.

At the end of the day, the Jets' goal is to correctly develop their young cornerbacks through in-game experience.

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Adding a veteran cornerback who will not steal reps from these guys would be the best move Douglas and Saleh could make prior to Week 1.