Two lingering free agents the New York Jets should bring back

The New York Jets have been leaving the Adam Gase/Gregg Williams era behind, but these defensive staples might be worth keeping around. 

The New York Jets have taken spring cleaning to a new level this offseason.

A purge of the Adam Gase era unofficially began during his ill-fated second season, when a de facto fire sale ended the green careers of Le’Veon Bell, Avery Williamson, and future Super Bowl champion Steve McLendon. Gase himself was let go after an unceremonious 32 games, taking almost all of his coaching staff with him. Several big names from the era were likewise sent elsewhere, the further departures headlined by the trade of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold to Carolina. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins, the longest-tenured member of the team, absconded for Houston via free agency.

But not all remnants of the Gase era have been condemned to seek employment elsewhere. Marcus Maye, a former Gregg Williams pupil, was bestowed the franchise tag. Offensive representatives like Vyncint Smith and Daniel Brown, the latter’s signing announced yesterday, are likewise back for more. Ten former Jets currently remain on the open market.

Should anyone else be welcomed back? ESM has a couple of ideas in mind…

LB Neville Hewitt

The signer of three consecutive one-year deals, Hewitt has been one of the Jets’ undisputed defensive leaders. Formerly of the Dolphins and the Marshall Thundering Herd, Hewitt has earned 161 solo takedowns (13 for a loss) over the last three years. He has thus established himself as one of the more reliable depth defenders in the league and could help the team find a sense of veteran leadership with young help presumably coming through the draft.

The Jets’ linebacking corps has been racked by disaster, whether it’s through big-ticket disappointments (Darron Lee) or abysmal luck on the medical front (C.J. Mosley, Blake Cashman). Hewitt is likely seeking some more stable, but if the Jets are looking for a reliable depth option, they shouldn’t hesitate to offer Hewitt something longer. His passable skills on both pass rush and coverage could help soothe Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s expected implementation of a 4-3 set.

CB Brian Poole

Poole has built a solid NFL career after going undrafted out of Florida. But he has had apparent difficulty finding work after partaking in a career-low nine games due to shoulder and knee issues. He was one of the Jets’ more consistent defenders during the 2019 campaign and even appeared in Pro Football Focus’ Top 25 cornerbacks list at the end of the regular season. The former Atlanta Falcon was the highest-ranked slot specialist on that list, praised for his work in the nickel.

Bringing back Poole would provide an experienced secondary defender for a group that needs depth and guidance. Young projects like Bless Austin and Bryce Hall, each emerging as day three gems from the most recent drafts, are expected to take starring roles in Ulbrich’s new defense. Poole also holds championship experience, a trait the Jets have appeared to value if their signings from elsewhere are any indication. He was a part of Atlanta’s ill-fated trip to Super Bowl LI and had a game-high seven tackles in the NFC title game win over Green Bay.

It’s surprising that Poole has lasted this long on the open market. The Jets should take advantage before it’s too late.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC books Chito Vera – Davey Grant 2

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a fun bantamweight matchup for June. MMA DNA was the first to report last night that the promotion was close to finalizing a matchup between Marlon “Chito” Vera (16-7-1) and Davey Grant (13-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC Fight Night on June 19th. This fight is actually a rematch from their first fight that happened in 2016. That was Davey Grant’s second fight in the UFC and it took place in his homeland of England.

That night, Davey Grant was able to pickup the decision win. Grant was introduced to the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter. He made the finale during his season back in 2013 but came up short.

He didn’t have his second octagon appearance for more than two years after that. After he defeated Chito Vera, he lost back-to-back fights. However, as of late, Davey Grant has looked better than ever.

Heading into this UFC Fight Night on June 19th, Grant will be riding a three-fight win streak. His last two performances have been sensational where he has knockout wins over Martin Day and Jonathan Martinez.

UFC Return for Chito

2020 was a very interesting year for Chito Vera in the UFC. Entering the year, he had won five fights in a row which had the bantamweight division on notice. Chito looked like he was well on his way to being a title contender.

He started his 2020 by taking on Song Yadong. Song won the decision, but many people believe that Chito won that fight. After that, Vera was tasked with taking on “Suga” Sean O’Malley at UFC 252.

Vera used his calf kicks to stop the hype of the Suga Show and get the biggest win of his UFC career. After that win, the promotion gave him the biggest fight of his career. Vera took on former UFC champion Jose Aldo in December.

Vera showed heart in that matchup but was ultimately outclassed by Aldo in two of the rounds. Chito is 1-2 in his last three, but he’s still one of the bright prospects in the UFC’s bantamweight division. This should be a great matchup and with the previous history, should be a fun buildup.