The Jets’ defensive front is getting bigger and stronger.
Former Saints tackle Sheldon Rankins agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $17 million on Sunday, a league source said. Rankins, the No. 12 pick in 2016, spent five seasons with the Saints and totaled 17.5 sacks.
The 6-2, 305-pound Rankins is the second player that the Jets have added to their front line in free agency. Their big signing was defensive end Carl Lawson, who got a three-year, $45 million deal. Rankins, Quinnen Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi are the Jets’ top tackles. They’re still looking for another defensive end to play on the edge in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 scheme.
Rankins, 26, was a two-year starter for the Saints and had his best season in 2018 when he finished with eight sacks and 15 quarterback hits. But Rankins tore his Achilles in the playoffs that season. He had another Achilles issue the following year.
That slowed Rankins and limited his production. He appeared in 22 games the last two season and recorded only 3.5 sacks. But he said last month during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio he’s healthy and strong again.
"Now, I legit wake up and feel like me again," Rankins said. "I can run around and have that bounce in my step that I know I used to have. That’s exciting for me. Going into free agency, that’s why it’s exciting for me, because I know that no matter where I end up, you can cut that 2018 tape on and say that’s the guy you’re getting."
Rankins registered 116 tackles, including 25 for loss, and 44 quarterback hits in 63 games for the Saints.
In addition to another edge rusher, the Jets need to address the back end of the defense with cornerback a major need.