It took safety Ed Reed nine days after the start of free agency to settle on signing with the Houston Texans this offseason. After being waived by the team on Tuesday and clearing waivers on Wednesday, his decision to sign with the New York Jets came about much more quickly.
The Jets on Thursday announced the signing of the former All-Pro safety.
We bolstered our secondary THURS, agreeing to terms with Ed Reed a day after the veteran S cleared waivers.— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 14, 2013
While Reed's reputation precedes him, it has not helped him be a better player on the field this season. He's simply not playing like the former All-Pro we're used to watching fly all over the field with sideline-to-sideline speed to make plays on the deep half.
Signing Reed brings a veteran presence to the Jets secondary, and he could certainly be a valuable mentor for the likes of Antonio Allen and Josh Bush, but his days of making big plays are done.
His ability has taken a hit, and thus his playing time has as well.
|Year||Games||Snap % in games played||Tackles||Interceptions|
Reed's snap count has diminished greatly this year, and he played just 13 snaps in his final game with the Texans in Week 10.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he played fewer than 30 snaps in just one game from 2008 to 2012, and that was the season finale in 2012 against the Bengals, when the Ravens already had their playoff spot locked up. He fell below 30 snaps twice in his seven games with the Texans.
He has battled knee and hip problems this year and had fallen to the third-string spot at safety for the Texans. He was backing up Shiloh Keo and rookie D.J. Swearinger, and now he'll be backing up Allen, Bush, Dawan Landry and maybe even Jaiquawn Jarrett with the Jets.
That doesn't seem to bother Jets head coach Rex Ryan, though, who said earlier in the week he'd take back any player he's ever coached.
"I would like [Reed] on our team. And I'll say that knowing that you guys know me," Ryan said. "I'd like to have Brandon Moore on the team. I'd like to have Alan Faneca on the team. Anybody that I've ever coached, that bled for me, I want them. Trevor Pryce, if Trevor called, I'd love to have Trevor on the team. That's how I feel."
Even Reed himself, however, has admitted that he's not playing up to his reputation.
"I know I'm held to higher standards because of what I've done in the past, but that was the past," he said, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. "I'm a totally different player now."
As mentioned, he has lost some of the signature speed that helped him assist cornerbacks by providing help over the top. Instead, though, the Jets might try using him in smaller spaces. If the team continues to run Cover 1 on the back end, they could potentially use Reed as a shallow safety underneath ("Robber" technique).
The Jets don't need Reed to be an every-down player for them—they have the primary safety spots figured out with Allen and Landry—and if anyone can find a way to get the most out of Reed, it may be Ryan, who is creative and familiar with Reed.
What will Ed Reed's most valuable role be?
With 12 years of NFL experience, his presence on the roster won't go to total waste. Between Allen, Bush and Jarrett, there are more than enough young Jets safeties that could use Reed's tutelage. None have Reed's ceiling, and none are really even similar players, but few have his wealth of knowledge on the finer points of being a safety in the NFL.
Reed's best contributions will be in the film room, where his experience could help the Jets scout opponents' tendencies and could also serve as a valuable teaching tool for the young safeties on the Jets roster.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or via team news releases.