When you have Sauce Gardner doing Sauce Gardner things on one side of the field, it’s easy to forget about the performances of the other outside corner, but DJ Reed may be one of Joe Douglas’s finest signings, at least through 7 games of the 2022 season.
Reed’s success shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering PFF had him rated as the 8th best corner in football last year with a grade of 78.6, the PFF grading system can be all over the place, but if you watched Reed with the Seahawks you would have seen a fast and physical corner.
Joe Douglas signed Reed to a 3-year contract worth $33 million overall with just $10.5 million guaranteed, Not a small amount by any means but a long way from the $82.5 million contract that JC Jackson signed with the Chargers. His annual value of $11 million per season ranks him the 18th highest-paid corner in football in 2022, although his cap hit of $4.6 million actually makes his contract incredibly team-friendly this year, and even when that jumps to $14.1 million next season, it still doesn’t put him inside the top 10.
All you need to do is look at his performances on the field in 2022 to see that he’s worth every single penny. He’s helped turn the Jet's secondary from a feasting ground for quarterbacks to a graveyard for the passing game. The Jets as a unit are playing complementary defense with the pressure aiding the secondary and the secondary aiding the pressure. In short, the Jet's defense is finally working the way Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich envisioned it working when they took charge.
Through the first 7 games of the NFL season, PFF has DJ Reed rated as the 7th best corner in football. He’s allowed just 52.8% of passes to be completed into his coverage for 188 total yards, which works out at just 27 yards per game. He’s yet to allow a single touchdown and he has 1 interception and 4 pass breakups to his name. His career high for pass break-ups is 6, which he achieved with Seattle last year. There’s a good chance he flies past that number before Thanksgiving.
You can just point to the raw numbers to explain why Reed’s been such a good signing, but I think that does a disservice to his overall contribution to the team. He’s known as a locker room leader, he’s constantly communicating in the secondary to ensure that everyone is on the same page and he’s made some highlight plays in the running game as well. His instincts show up on a weekly basis, take the hit on Jerry Jeudy in the Denver game at the weekend, the anticipation and instincts to stop that play before it even developed was outstanding.
Sauce Gardner will get a lot of the plaudits and rightfully so, what he’s doing as a rookie is unique and exciting in equal measure. But I think it’s important that we don’t forget the contribution of Reed on the other side, not only as a player of exceptional quality but also as a mentor to Sauce and the other young corners the Jets have on their roster like Brandin Echols and Michael Carter II.
Joe Douglas has got a lot right with the Jets, and this signing was certainly one to be proud of.