Report Card Grades for Every New York Jets Free Agent Acquisition so Far
Now just a quarter into the season, we can already see Mike Tannenbaum's transactions (or lack thereof) starting to make their mark on the Jets season.
With injuries piling up at key positions, this team's depth is going to be tested now more than ever, and the under-the-radar signings are going to see more daylight.
Here is a grade for each free-agent acquisition (for the players still on the team) through a quarter of the season.
LaRon Landry: A-
I'm not usually one to toot my own horn, but I was very high on this signing over the summer, and it has turned out to be the best transaction of the offseason.
The Jets may have a ton of holes on offense, but they were at least able to shore up the safety position with the addition of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell.
So far, he's recorded 16 tackles, a forced fumble, and a pick-six. But most importantly, Landry has set the tone in the secondary with his physical play and willingness to lay big hits to force turnovers.
The numbers don't do his performance justice—the Jets have gotten much better at stopping opposing tight ends, thanks to Landry's underrated coverage ability.
If Landry can stay healthy, he is going to be a highly-sought after free agent after this season.
Yeremiah Bell: B
Bell has not made quite as many "splash" plays as Landry, but his presence has helped shore up a safety unit that was exposed last year in coverage.
However, watching Bell play, it is apparent that age is starting to catch up with the veteran. He is not quite as aggressive in the run game as he is known for being and is still not the ideal man you want running with tight end and running backs.
Still, all things considered, Bell has been a quality signing for the Jets so far, as he has recorded 18 tackles through four games.
However, for the long run, I expect Bell to be one-and-done with the Jets with players like Josh Bush and Antonio Allen waiting in the wings.
Chaz Schilens: C+
Chaz Schilens was one of the first players the Jets targeted in free agency, and for good reason. Schilens has good size and speed and could develop into a potential starter if he can stay healthy.
While Schilens has not quite been able to say completely healthy as a Jet, he has at least gotten healthy at a point in the season where the Jets need him the most. With Santonio Holmes possibly out for the season (via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News), Schilens moves into Holmes' role as a starter.
Schilens was unable to do much in Hill's absence against the 49ers last week, so expectations should be tempered, but he has the tools to be successful.
If Schilens can help the Jets avoid complete offensive disaster, this could turn out to be one of the better signings of the offseason. If not, it would be yet another miscalculation by Mike Tannenbaum.
Clyde Gates: C-
Clyde Gates was a late addition in the annual "mini-draft," referring to the massive movement of bottom-level players after the final cut day.
Gates' best quality is his blazing speed, but he lacks any kind of route-running skills and has just average hands. The Jets brought in Gates to develop, but with injuries to other positions, he will be forced to play much more than expected.
Gates was also largely responsible for Sanchez's first interception against the Dolphins, running a flat post route to lead to the interception.
It's not like the Jets have a lot invested in Gates, but most would prefer to see the Jets use their precious roster spots on players who can help out right now.
Konrad Reuland: B-
Another prize of the mini-draft, Reuland has been able to make a few plays in limited action for the Jets.
In the mold of a receiving tight end, Reuland has been more explosive and reliable than Jeff Cumberland when the two have played. While he's no Dustin Keller, his presence has helped soften the blow as much as a cut-day victim could.
When Keller does return to the lineup, it will be interesting to see if the Jets decide to split time between Cumberland and Reuland or keep just one of them.
Aaron Berry: N/A
After watching Kyle Wilson get burned on a regular basis against the 49ers (and luckily benefit from poor deep accuracy on Alex Smith's part), the Jets scrambled to sign the troubled Aaron Berry this week, who was released from the Lions prior to the season.
Berry was slated to be a starting corner for the Lions, but two DUI arrests forced the Lions to part ways with him.
Berry may be a starter on the Lions, but he is probably best suited to play in nickel roles.
Unless Wilson picks up his play, there is a good chance the Jets will move on from him after this season, as he will be a free agent. If that is the case and Berry plays well, the Jets may make a move to retain Berry as their new nickel corner.
Still, all of that is to be determined over the coming weeks, so no grade for Berry yet.
Lex Hillard: N/A
The Jets just recently signed fullback Lex Hilliard on Tuesday, as reported by Connor Orr of NJ.com, who is familiar with Tony Sparano from his days as a Dolphin.
Hilliard's signing speaks to how the Jets feel about John Conner coming back from his injury, and there is a good chance that Hilliard will just be around for a few weeks until Conner gets healthy again.
If Hilliard plays well enough, he could possibly supplant Conner as the starter altogether, but we'll need to see him play before giving him any kind of grade.