New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh has mentored a lot of veteran talent, and as he rebuilds a team with playoff dreams, this experience could come in handy.
The 41-year old former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator could target numerous guys from his previous NFL coaching stops, and with some assistance needed at pass rusher, linebacker and in the secondary — Saleh may know just the guys.
Here are five of Saleh’s non-49ers free agents who the Jets could look to grab this offseason.
Defensive End Yannick Ngakoue
Ngakoue was drafted in Saleh’s final year as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach in 2016 and would be a stellar addition to New York’s defense as an edge rusher — he would probably be an asset to most teams, though.
The former Maryland defensive end played in Minnesota and Baltimore this past season and has tallied at least eight sacks every season since he’s been in the league — he will be just 26 when the 2021 season starts.
Outside Linebacker K.J. Wright
Former Mississippi State linebacker and notable force on Saleh’s Seahawks’ defense, K.J. Wright and Saleh spent the first three seasons of Wright’s career together in Seattle.
Wright could be a veteran linebacker presence for the Jets as a stabilizing force in the defense. The 31-year-old has been in the league for 11 years and has been a consistent part of the Seahawks defense since 2011.
He’s played at least 13 games in all but one season and tallied at least 80 tackles in all but two seasons, Jetswire reports.
Safety Eric Reid
The eight-year league veteran didn’t play in 2020 after the Panthers released him, but he enjoyed a career year in 2019 in Carolina where he tallied 130 combined tackles, four sacks and six defended passes.
Outside Linebacker Malcolm Smith
Smith, 31, played well in Cleveland last year, tallying 72 combined tackles and a sack, after back-to-back poor seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Linebacker Aaron Lynch
Former South Florida Bull and fifth-round pick by the 49ers Aaron Lynch bounced around a lot since leaving the 49ers after Saleh’s first season, but he’s provided some sort of help on the defensive side of the ball.
Through six NFL seasons, he accounted for 20 sacks and 105 tackles.
He signed with the Jaguars in May 2020 but retired from football after signing with the Jaguars last year — he was reinstated after two months.