The Jets have made a lot of moves at safety, but if you prescribe to "quality over quantity" roster building, you may still be wondering whether they've done enough.
The Jets' offseason strategy at safety is similar to an approach taken by the Patriots over the past few years at several positions. The logic behind the method is that the creme will rise to the top and that the rest is expendable. This "volume approach" isn't pretty, but it works.
They let safety Brodney Pool walk in free agency and have yet to re-sign safety Jim Leonhard. Over the course of the offseason, though, they've added four safeties: LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell through free agency, and Josh Bush and Antonio Allen via the draft.
I asked former Jets scout Connie Carberg for her thoughts on the Jets outlook at safety, specifically whether Bush can handle the load as a rookie:
I doubt that Josh can keep up with the system as a rookie, but when you look at who’s around him (Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith, and Landry if healthy), he’s obviously going to have time to be groomed. In addition to being groomed, he’ll also be able to contribute immediately on special teams. ...I’m interested in watching Josh at practice this summer, so I can make a more informed opinion.
Her response shouldn't be shocking, but it should be somewhat troubling for the Jets since he's the only "true" free safety on the roster.
Still, she has a great point about the help that will be around him. Not only will Bell, Smith and Landry be able to provide valuable coaching and insight on the tools of the trade, but they will also provide insurance on the field in the event that Bush's development doesn't go as quickly or smoothly as planned.
Eric Smith may not inspire a wealth of confidence, but at least he knows the defense and can step up in a pinch if injuries or ineffectiveness plague the Jets at safety.
But as mentioned, the Jets have a glut of strong safeties and only one player on the roster who projects as a "true" free safety.
Thus, the real x-factor is the status of Leonhard. In terms of being brought back after knee surgery, Carberg isn't concerned; not because he'll be 100 percent by camp (even though he's yet unsigned), but because his physical acumen was never his most valuable asset:
We also need to see if Jim Leonhard has a spot or is able to come back from his second season-ending injury. If Jim was solely a physical talent, I’d worry more than I do, because it’s obvious that he is a brain of the defense, and may be able to use his head to make plays that others have to overextend their bodies on.
Should the Jets bring back Jim Leonhard?
Perhaps the Jets' best plan of action is to wait until after Week 1 to bring back Leonhard. If he's on the roster as of Week 1, his contract is guaranteed for the entire season. The only disadvantage to waiting is that Bush can't get mentored by Leonhard during training camp, but there are other safeties who could bring him along.
With so many questions at safety, though, the Jets have at least kept their options open as they try to find the answers.