Robert Saleh has already brought coaches with him from the San Francisco 49ers to the New York Jets. Why not some players as well?
The Jets new head coach was asked this week about the importance of signing players in free agency that are already familiar with Saleh's scheme.
"There’s always comfort and familiarity," Saleh said. "It’s almost human nature to gravitate to people you’ve worked with and people you’ve been around, but there’s still a process at which you go to. There’s a fit, there’s a value. There are all those different things, a lot of moving parts that go into it."
The first, and biggest, name that comes to mind is Richard Sherman. The veteran cornerback played for Saleh in all three of his seasons with the 49ers. He's not the corner he was in his early years with the Seattle Seahawks, but Sherman helped build San Francisco's defense (under Saleh) into one of the best in the NFL.
Sherman has been vocal about the Jets hiring Saleh, publicly applauding New York for the decision. He's also chimed in about the Jets pursuing Deshaun Watson this offseason.
The 32-year-old is a very specific circumstance, however, as he believes he has a few quality seasons left in the tank, years he'd undoubtedly prefer to spend with a contender. Unless Saleh and the culture the coach is working to build outweigh immediate postseason contention (and financials factor into this as well), then Sherman is unlikely to choose Gang Green. Then again, Saleh's presence could be the deciding factor.
There are other players that are set to enter free agency that worked closely with Saleh in San Francisco. There's corners K'Waun Williams and Jason Verrett along with defensive end Kerry Hyder.
On offense, with Mike LaFleur transitioning from the 49ers to the Jets as New York's new offensive coordinator, Gang Green could target fullback Kyle Juszczyk or wideout Kendrick Bourne, among others.
With plenty of cap space to work with, New York will have limitless options as free agency begins. Saleh explained that while adding some familiar faces would be welcomed, it's not the organization's sole initiative.
"While yeah, it’d be great, it’s not the main determining factor on whether or not we can get those people into the building, those players," Saleh said.
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