Why the NY Jets are unlikely to extend star CB D.J. Reed

This is probably D.J. Reed's last year with the Jets
D.J. Reed
D.J. Reed / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The NY Jets will have a number of important financial decisions to make in the coming years, but perhaps none are more intriguing than the decision surrounding cornerback D.J. Reed.

Reed has vastly exceeded expectations since signing a three-year, $33 million contract with the Jets prior to the start of the 2022 season. It's not a stretch to say he's firmly established himself as one of the organization's best free-agent additions in years.

Alongside Sauce Gardner and Michael Carter II, Reed has helped form the NFL's best cornerback trio, and while he often goes overlooked compared to his superstar teammate, Gardner, he has a genuine case to be a legitimate CB1 on a number of NFL rosters.

Reed is set to enter the final year of his contract in 2024 and recently told reporters that he's open to extension talks. The Jets, however, don't seem to be in much of a hurry. There's a very good reason for that.

D.J. Reed might be playing his final season with the NY Jets

Reed is a fantastic player who has outplayed his contract and deserves a significant payday from some team. That team likely won't — and probably shouldn't — be the Jets, however.

Reed is just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to soon-to-expire contracts the Jets have to worry about. The likes of Michael Carter II, Haason Reddick, Tyler Conklin, Mike Williams, Tyron Smith, etc. are all entering the final year of their respective deals.

The team also has to start preparing for extensions for players such as Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, and Breece Hall. All four will be extension-eligible next offseason, and it would make sense to get a head start on at least a couple of them.

That's not even thinking about players like Alijah Vera-Tucker, Quincy Williams, C.J. Mosley, and, of course, Aaron Rodgers, whose contracts all expire in 2025.

All of this is to say that the Jets aren't going to be able to keep everyone. That's a reality the organization hasn't been faced with in quite some time, but it is a reality that contending teams in the NFL frequently have to deal with.

The conversation surrounding players and contracts in the NFL can rarely just be simplified to "this player is good so the team should pay them." It's a lot more complicated than that.

Still at just 27-years-old (he turns 28 in November), Reed will be looking for one final payday while he's still in his prime. It's reasonable to suggest he will be asking for as much as $18-20 million per year on his next deal.

It's simply not feasible for the Jets to extend Reed, Gardner, and Carter. You can't justify paying three cornerbacks as among the top players at their position. That wouldn't be a smart allocation of resources, especially with many other big contract decisions upcoming.

Gardner is going to get paid. The Jets will make him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history, perhaps as soon as next offseason. It also makes sense to extend Carter, one of the league's top slot corners, because nickel cornerbacks just don't make as much money as outside cornerbacks.

The Jets could extend Carter, who is two years younger than Reed, at a fraction of the price it would take to keep his older teammate around. Gardner and Carter should be the priorities.

The Jets have already started looking ahead to a future without Reed. They've steadily developed Brandin Echols over the last few years to the point where, if they feel comfortable with his progress, he could compete for a starting job in 2025. Echols is also on an expiring contract, though.

Then there's 2024 fifth-round pick Qwan'tez Stiggers. While Stiggers remains a wild card given his lack of experience, the former CFL star was one of the standouts of the spring. He's looked the part so far and the Jets are very high on his potential.

If the Jets aren't content with their internal options, the 2025 NFL Draft class is seemingly loaded with high-end cornerback talent. It's still early, but all signs point to a stacked cornerback class next year.

The Jets can also go the free-agent route in hopes of finding a capable and inexpensive stop-gap alongside Gardner and Carter. You can survive — and still thrive — with a league-average CB2 if you have the NFL's best cornerback and arguably the league's best slot corner.

D.J. Reed is a fantastic player who deserves a new contract. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that contract will come from the Jets. The upcoming 2024 season is most likely going to be Reed's final in New York.