WATCH: Jets provide LB Stephone Anthony perfect opportunity to revitalize career
The Jets continued their roster shuffling on Tuesday, announcing that they have signed veteran linebacker Stephone Anthony and waived safety Santos Ramirez. The signing reunites Anthony with head coach Adam Gase and linebackers coach Joe Vitt.
The New Orleans Saints selected the former Clemson standout with the 31st overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Coming into the league, Anthony was highly touted for his range and coverage acumen, and he started all 16 games as a rookie. After notching 112 tackles, one sack, five passes defended, one interception and two forced fumbles, he was named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team for his efforts.
While his NFL career got off to a booming start, Anthony struggled with the transition from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker in his second season. A late-season injury limited him to only 10 regular season games. Merely a few weeks into his third season, Anthony was traded to the Miami Dolphins for the Dolphins' fifth-round pick in 2018.
He appeared in 24 games for Miami over the past two seasons, recording just 21 tackles over that span. He played just 27 snaps on defense in 2018, with the majority of his snaps coming exclusively on special teams. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons in late July, but was released less than a month later.
Still just 27 years old, Anthony will have an opportunity to contribute to the Jets' success in 2019. With projected starter Avery Williamson out with a season-ending knee injury, Anthony will have a legitimate chance to challenge for playing time.
While on surface Anthony would appear to possess all of the necessary qualities desired in an NFL linebacker, beneath the surface tells a different story. While the 6-foot-3, 245-pound downhill thumper has dealt with various injuries over the past couple of seasons, there are specific areas of his game that are a cause for concern.
During his stints in New Orleans and Miami, Anthony struggled immensely with the mental processing aspect and his reaction time left a lot to be desired. His move from strongside to middle was a strong indication that the team didn't have the utmost confidence in the linebacker to call the defense. Having two different defensive coordinators early in his career surely didn't help, and may have ultimately been what stunted his development.
He brings 50 games of NFL experience and a first-round pedigree to the Jets, however. In New York, he'll be given every chance to revitalize what was once a promising career.