In a mild surprise, Jim Leonhard left Florham Park over the weekend without a new contract. Over the past two years, the Jets have acted decisively to land players they targeted so it was a bit strange to see him get away. There is no reason for alarm on this front. The Jets remain the favorite to land the free agent safety because of his relationship by Rex Ryan, who developed him into a starting caliber player, and their displayed willingness to outbid the competition for a player they want.
Leonhard would be a nice addition. He would be a definite upgrade in coverage over Eric Smith and Abram Elam. He is also the kind of guy fans would love. The 5'8" safety walked on at Wisconsin, went undrafted, and spent the first few years of his career as a backup before shining when the Ravens gave him a chance in 2008. He always seems to be in the picture ready to make a play. Leonhard's best comparision might be Wayne Chrebet playing safety.
While the Jets could do much worse than signing Leonhard, there is an internal option. The acquisition of Lito Sheppard leaves Dwight Lowery out in the cold at corner. Perhaps the 2008 opening day starter would benefit from a position change. He showed good ball skills in his rookie year along with poor catch up speed, which would be easier to mask at safety. At 5'11" and 201 pounds, he is a bit small for the position, but he has a bigger build than Leonhard. Now that he will rate no higher than nickel on the cornerback depth chart, the Jets might maximize his value opposite Kerry Rhodes.
This is probably moot. Leonhard has shown he wants to play the field as a desired commodity for the first time, but the Jets are the favorite to obtain his services. His current team, Baltimore, has no starting spot for him so loyalty will not be an issue. Still, Gang Green should feel good about the position. Even if the team whiffs on all free agents, a cheap internal solution exists.