Port Jefferson’s Elijah Riley will be back with the Jets.
A league source said the Jets exercised their exclusive rights option on the safety Riley on Thursday. The former Newfield High School star, an exclusive rights free agent, hasn’t signed the tender yet. When he does, he will be on the Jets’ 2022 roster.
The Jets signed Riley off of the Eagles' practice squad in November after losing Marcus Maye for the season. Riley, who played his college ball at Army, impressed the Jets coaches with how quickly he picked up the defense and how vocal he was.
Riley, 23, started all seven games he played for the Jets. He finished with 45 tackles, including three for a loss. Riley missed one game after a scary scene in Miami in which he left the field strapped to a backboard after suffering a concussion.
Several veteran Jets defensive players praised Riley for being a vocal leader and said he fit in right away. They said Riley challenged them and held them to a higher standard.
Riley also held himself accountable and took the blame for giving up the winning touchdown in the Jets’ Week 17 loss to Tampa Bay and Tom Brady.
An undrafted free agent in 2020, Riley appeared in six games with the Eagles but almost exclusively was on special teams. He gives the Jets more depth at safety with free agency set to kick off next week.
The Jets already reached deals with their own free-agent safeties LaMarcus Joyner and Will Parks. The Jets are expected to be active in improving their safety position in free agency with Marcus Williams being a possible target.
The Jets announced four new coaches to Robert Saleh’s staff.
Former Giants and Bears assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson will serve the same role with the Jets. Greg Scruggs, who was the director of player development and defensive line coach at the University of Cincinnati, will be the Jets' assistant defensive line coach.
Nathan Willingham will be a defensive assistant. Willingham, the son of former Stanford, Notre Dame and University of Washington coach Ty Willingham, spent the past three seasons as the Broncos’ defensive quality control coach.
Dan Shamash was named situational football/game management coordinator. Most recently, Shamash worked with the Chargers as offensive quality control coach, offensive assistant and assistant tight ends coach. He also was a Jets coaching assistant in 2008 under Eric Mangini and consultant in 2011 under Rex Ryan.