It was an up and down year for Lito Sheppard. The start was very slow. He missed 5 of the first 8 games of the season due to injury. It was that kind of fragility that kept the Eagles from making a large investment in the former Pro Bowl corner. He came back and quietly played a strong second half of the season. Things ended poorly, though. Sheppard lost his starting spot for the AFC Championship Game and was burned deep by Pierre Garcon.
It's become a popular refrain among Jets fans that the team needs to upgrade the cornerback spot opposite Darrelle Revis. I'm inclined to disagree. This team is probably not going to find another corner as good as Darrelle Revis. Most teams aren't blessed to have one shutdown corner. Sheppard was a starting corner on the top pass defense in the league, one that lacked an elite pass rusher. Rex put a lot on the secondary this year. The Jets couldn't get to the passer rushing 4. Lito was very good in coverage during the second half of the year. What this team needs is a pass rusher so it doesn't have to rely so much on the blitz and can take some pressure off the corners.
Sheppard has faults. I don't feel particularly comfortable with him playing against somebody with blazing speed, but he's still an excellent number 2. I've seldom seen one player take such a hit for his team's performance against the greatest quarterback of a generation as fans have soured on Lito since that Colts game. Don't forget the way he shut down Lee Evans and Laveranues Coles in critical games late in the year.
Bringing him back at his current contract with a $10 million roster bonus would be crazy, but I think the Jets should try to either restructure or cut him and bring him back with a new contract. I'm getting vibes Sheppard is a likely goner. The benching for the AFC Championship may be a sign. I'd still like to see him back in 2010.
I vote stay with an altered contract.
How do you vote?
What should the Jets do with Lito Sheppard?
This poll is closed
Bring him back at his current deal
Restructure his contract/cut and resign him
Cut him and let him walk