Marqui Christian has reportedly back out of his deal with the New York Jets. How does this affect the team moving forward?
Details are emerging about the Jets’ free agency acquisitions, but it appears that former Los Angeles Rams safety Marqui Christian won’t be joining the green party.
According to a report from Brian Costello of the New York Post, a deal between the Jets and Christian fell through, leaving the Jets relatively shallow in safety depth. ESM takes a look at how Christian’s rejection impacts the remainder of the team’s offseason plans.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 23, 2018
Rontez Miles Could Come Back For Yet Another Year
Rontez Miles has flown under the radar through his professional tenure, but, in some ways, he represents the quintessential inspiring NFL story. The safety entered the league as a Division II outcast from California University of Pennsylvania but has gone on to build a sizable and decent career as a reserve safety and special teams maven. He currently stands out as the third-longest tenured member of the team, behind only Bilal Powell and Brian Winters. Last season, Miles’ service was rewarded with a team captaincy. His 16 special teams tackles earned two years prior were tied for third in the league and he has also been used as a personal protector.
Miles, 31, is currently one of the Jets’ remaining free agents. The arrival of Christian might’ve spelled the end for him, but new life has potentially been granted to his Jets career. He has dealt with injuries over the past few seasons, but with the Jets’ perpetual rebuild in perhaps its most hopeful stage yet, they’re going to need some veteran seasoning. Minus Miles and a few free agents, only four members of the active roster are in their 30s. One (Josh Bellamy) could be a cap space casualty and the other (Brett Maher) is a newcomer who could have some competition at camp.
Safeties Shoot Up the Big Board
The Jets’ draft plan for next month is a lot less murky after adding serviceable blockers from elsewhere. Thus, there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility with their eight draft picks. Good thing too, because the Jets have plenty of need left to fill. Secondary depth was near the summit of offseason needs, and they at least took care of things in the cornerback department (Pierre Desir, re-signing Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet). They’re desperate thin at safety behind their strong duo of Adams and Maye. Journeyman Bennett Jackson was re-signed and former CFLer Anthony Cioffi was brought in February. But there’s no doubt the Jets could use some help. Day three of last year’s draft saw them add a local diamond in the secondary rough in the form of Rutgers cornerback Bless Austin.
Where the Jets lack depth, the draft is there to compensate. Several talented solutions could be available. One of ESM’s latest Jets mock drafts has them taking FCS standout Jeremy Chinn from Southern Illinois. A decent week at Mobile’s Senior Bowl put him on the national radar and he followed it up with a decent Combine. Other potential latter-pick options may include the undersized but reputed Minnesota ballhawk Antoine Winfield Jr. (son of the three-time Pro Bowler) or Big Ten run stoppers Antoine Brooks (Maryland) and Khaleke Hudson (Michigan).
The Jets have the draft capital (extra picks earned via trades with the Giants and Chiefs), but if they’d rather focus on more offensive help (i.e. blocking and receiving), further opportunities await…
Free Agency Could Bring Back Familiar Faces
Metropolitan sports fans eager for athletic events of any kind have been partially placated by the local NFL squads making moves. Missing out on Christian ensures that the Jets aren’t done yet. They have just over $32.5 million in cap space left to work with, so it’s not like Joe Douglas and company have to close up shop until draft day.
Fortunately for the Jets, experienced options to deepen the safety depth chart are available. Among them is safety Damarious Randall, who previously worked with Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams during the latter’s helm as interim head coach in Cleveland. Christian had previously worked with defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Dennard Wilson in Los Angles. Alternative Wilson alumni from Los Angeles that are on the market include Blake Countess who played six games with the Jets last season.
It’s impossible to deny that the Jets have gotten better during this transaction period, at least on paper. But with less-than-desirable contingency plans behind the strong pairing of Adams and Maye, the Jets don’t have the luxury of standing idle at this point.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags