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The Jets have too much money tied up in their defensive backs, including Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and (if they re-sign him) free safety LaRon Landry. A great way to save money this offseason would be to not keep Landry.
The recently voted in first-time Pro Bowler did little in 2012 to earn the accolades he has received and should not become a new money sink for the Jets.
The two major factors that caused Landry's stock to suddenly rise were the move to the New York market and the injury to Darrelle Revis. The result is that Landry has garnered increased media attention and his price tag in free agency is going to be much higher than what he is worth.
Last year, Landry was a smart pickup for the Jets. Vastly underrated and coming off of an injury, Landry was signed to an inexpensive one-year deal. With his recent Pro Bowl appearance, Landry's stock is rising at just the right time for him to cash in.
The problem with having Landry at free safety is that he lacks some key skills and is highly injury prone. He is better as a run-stuffing pseudo-linebacker role than in coverage. The folks at Pro Football Focus have Landry as the No. 65-ranked safety in the NFL, grading out as an average safety in pass coverage. Note that he is average for all safeties, whereas free safeties should be above average when compared to strong safeties.
By garnering fewer pass deflections than missed tackles, one could argue that Landry has gotten worse this season, rather than better.
One of Landry's biggest selling points—especially this past season—is that he his "hard-hitting." This is a fair point, and Landry is an extremely strong player physically. The problem is that while he hits hard, he is an undisciplined tackler. His successful tackles often make the highlight reels, but he misses tackles more than most because he does not wrap up players with his arms. When analysts talk about the lost art of tackling, Landry is the kind of player they are complaining about.
During the 2012 season, Landry officially missed 13 tackles, one more than the heavily-maligned Roman Harper.
Looking out at the free-agency market, the Jets should be able to find a decent safety replacement for the veteran's minimum or slightly more. In order to keep their investment in defensive backs at a somewhat reasonable level, they should aim to spend only the minimum on their 2013 starting free safety.
A veteran like Dashon Goldson—who might not get a solid offer from the San Francisco 49ers—would be more desirable than Landry. Even former Jet Jim Leonhard would be a significantly better value for the money than Landry.