NY Jets sign former first-round pass rusher with ties to coaching staff

The Jets have a new pass rusher
Takkarist McKinley
Takkarist McKinley / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The NY Jets love their pass rushers, and with the team's pass rush corps looking a little thin prior to training camp, the team decided to bolster their depth by signing former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley.

The Jets brought McKinley, a former first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft, in for a tryout during mandatory minicamp this week, and he evidently did enough to impress the team.

McKinley spent the first four years of his career in Atlanta, notably working under current Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. It's likely his experience with Ulbrich contributed to his signing with the Jets.

McKinley never quite lived up to expectations with the Falcons and has bounced around since leaving Atlanta, but he has a chance to earn a roster spot in a Jets' defensive end room that lost some key pieces this offseason.

Will Takkarist McKinley make the NY Jets' roster?

McKinley's first two seasons in Atlanta were promising, as the UCLA product racked up 15 sacks between 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately, injuries and underwhelming play have tanked his career since, as he's only managed five sacks since the start of the 2019 season.

The 28-year-old was actually out of football entirely last year after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys in June of 2023. This might be his final opportunity to salvage whatever's left of his NFL career.

The Jets lost Bryce Huff and John Franklin-Myers this offseason, and although the team added Haason Reddick, the former All-Pro has yet to show up to the team's facilities. It's unclear if he will be in attendance for the start of training camp next month.

The Jets also have the likes of Jermaine Johnson, Will McDonald, and Micheal Clemons, but given that head coach Robert Saleh loves to have an abundance of defensive line depth, McKinley has a real chance to carve out a role on defense.

McKinley will likely be competing with undrafted rookies such as Eric Watts and Braiden McGregor for a roster spot this summer. Much like the Tarik Cohen signing, this is a worthy flyer for a Jets team searching for veteran depth.

The Jets now have a whopping nine former first-round picks on their defense. McKinley is the latest talented addition to Robert Saleh's unit.