Welcome to the 2019 Jets Free Agency Profile series! Up until the start of the 2019 free agency period in March, I’ll be running through a bunch of names the Jets could potentially bring in with their hoard of cap space. Let’s get into it!
We’re in the endgame, everyone. It’s March 4th, which means there is only one week to go until teams are officially allowed to open negotiations with free agents on March 11th. Agreements on deals will be reported beginning on that date and over the following couple of days, but deals cannot be officially signed until 4:00 PM Eastern time on March 13th.
With this post, I wanted to highlight a few names of interest at a position of need for the Jets that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention - cornerback.
The Jets are locked into one starter who had a very disappointing 2018 season, while their other two starters, both mediocre themselves, are free agents.
Especially if Gregg Williams continues to bring the heat like he’s been known to do, quality cornerback play is going to be even more important for the Jets than it usually is. The team really needs to make some improvements at this position.
Who will be available on the open market?
Name: Ronald Darby
Birthday/Age: January 2nd, 1994 (age 25)
Height/Weight: 5’11, 193
FA type: Unrestricted
College: Florida State (drafted 50th overall by the Bills in the second round of the 2015 draft)
Team(s): Bills (2015-16), Eagles (2017-18)
Position/usage: Outside corner best suited in press man favoring schemes
2018 stats: 9 games, 43 tackles, 12 passes defended, one interception, one tackle for loss
Previous salary: Signed a 4 year, $4,569,691 rookie contract. $1.1M cap hit in 2018
Spotrac Market Value: $13.4M/year (would currently be 8th highest among cornerbacks)
Jets connections: None notable
Measurables (via mockdraftable.com):
With Darby, you’re looking to add an athletic, playmaking outside corner in his prime, while taking on the risk of his injury issues and his boom or bust style.
Darby has racked up 54 passes defended in his four-year career, 10th most in the league over that span.
He’s done that in only 46 games, giving him an average of 1.17 passes defended per game - the best mark in the NFL.
Injuries are the huge red flag with Darby. In 2017, he missed nine games with a dislocated ankle before returning for the latter portion of the season and the Eagles’ championship run.
In 2018, his season ended after he suffered a torn ACL only nine games into the year.
Name: Bryce Callahan
Birthday/Age: October 23rd, 1991 (will turn 28 in-season)
Height/Weight: 5’9, 188
FA type: Unrestricted
College: Rice (signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent following the 2015 Draft)
Team(s): Bears (2015-18)
Position/usage: Slot/nickel corner
2018 stats: 13 games, 45 tackles, 6 passes defended, 6 tackles for loss, 5 QB knockdowns, two sacks, two interceptions, one tackle for loss
Previous salary: Signed a 1 year, $1,907,000 contract prior to 2018.
Spotrac Market Value: $7.0M/year (would currently be 27th highest among cornerbacks)
Jets connections: Shared time in Chicago with Adam Gase (2015) and Dowell Loggains (2015-17)
Callahan proved himself to be a very good pure slot defender in 2018. According to Pro Football Focus, when covering the slot, Callahan allowed just 0.69 yards per coverage snap and a passer rating of 78.9, which ranked second and eighth among cornerbacks, respectively.
PFF also noted that Callahan was one of only three cornerbacks with 300 or more regular season coverage snaps to not commit any penalties in coverage.
Like Darby, injuries are a question mark with Callahan. In 2018, he missed the final three games of the regular season and Chicago’s playoff game as he was placed on IR with a broken foot suffered in Week 14.
Yet, Callahan’s 13 games played last season was a career high. He’s only appeared in 45 of 65 possible career games - a 69.2% rate and an average of eleven games per year.
He’s also sneakily a bit higher up there in age than it might seem, as he’ll turn 28 during the season. Callahan was a 24-year old rookie.
Nevertheless, I’d definitely like to see the Jets chasing Callahan. Slot corner has quietly become a starting position in the NFL - and a very important one. The Jets have dealt with volatility at that spot over the past four years with Buster Skrine, riding a roller coaster of sparkling highs and ghastly lows.
Callahan brought some elite-level consistency at the position last year. If he can be had in the range of his estimated Spotrac value ($7M/year), I’d be willing to gamble on him.
Do you want to see the Jets chase Ronald Darby and/or Bryce Callahan?
This poll is closed
Yes, aggressively chase both
I’d like to chase Darby, not too high on Callahan
I’d like to chase Callahan, not too high on Darby
Neither is a high priority for me