The Jets retained one of their cornerbacks and set another free.
Slot corner Brian Poole is returning to the Jets on a one-year, $5-million contract, a league source said. But the Jets officially released cornerback Trumaine Johnson after two disappointing seasons.
Johnson was the Jets’ big-free agent signing in 2018 when former general manager Mike Maccagnan gave him a five-year, $72.5-million contract to leave the Rams. It will go down as one of the worst signings in Jets history. Johnson was injury plagued and never lived up to the contract or the expectations that came with it. He appeared in 17 games as a Jet and earned $34 million.
Johnson played only 12 defensive snaps in the second and third games of 2019. He appeared in only seven games last season and ended the year on the injured reserve list because of injuries to both ankles.
It was expected that the Jets would cut Johnson this offseason, but they waited until the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. on Wednesday to do it. They waived Johnson with a post-June 1 designation and gave themselves more salary cap flexibility.
Under the rules of the recently agreed upon collective bargaining agreement, the Jets can spread out Johnson’s dead money charge of $12 million over two years. It will be $4 million in 2020 and $8 million in 2021 instead of all of it this year. They originally were freeing $3 million under the cap by cutting Johnson, but now they’ve cleared $11 million.
The extra money will come in handy for the Jets as they have plenty of holes to fill. But getting Poole back was an important move for Gregg Williams’ defense.
Poole, 27, performed well for the Jets last season after they signed the nickel corner to a one-year, $3 million deal.
The former Falcon played 14 games for the Jets, with 10 starts. Poole finished with 62 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception that he returned for a touchdown in the Jets’ Week 11 victory over the Raiders. It became newsworthy because a fan snatched the ball out of Poole’s hands during the celebration. Poole later recovered the ball with the help of social media.
Originally signed by Atlanta as an undrafted free agent, Poole has missed just three games in four years in the NFL. He has five career interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
Poole was the first defensive player that general manager Joe Douglas agreed to terms with during free agency. In fact, Poole is the first non-offensive lineman.Douglas’ first three moves were giving three-year deals to center Connor McGovern, left guard Alex Lewis and tackle George Fant. Douglas still needs to fill both outside corner slots.
Darryl Roberts is on the roster, but he’s a candidate to be cut. The Jets also have Bless Austin, who started six games as a rookie. They could try to bring back Arthur Maulet. He also started six games at cornerback last season.
The Jets showed interest in former Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, but he is heading to Miami. Ex-Panther James Bradberry also was on the Jets' radar, but the Giants landed him. The Jets also lost out on Trae Waynes (Bengals), Jalen Mills (Raiders) and Chris Harris (Chargers).
Douglas also has to address the wide receiver position. Robby Anderson remains unsigned. The Jets would like to bring him back.
Other areas of need include edge rusher. Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who led the Jets with eight sacks last season, may sign elsewhere. Douglas also may do more work on the strengthening the offensive line.