Coming into the offseason, addressing cornerback depth was second only to rehauling the offensive line for the New York Jets. The argument could be made that the Jets still need to address their depth at cornerback even further.
If free agent signing Pierre Desir can step up and become a solid starter, however, then the Jets secondary will go a long ways towards being settled.
Like most of the other signings from general manager Joe Douglas this offseason, Desir offers a low-risk, high-reward prospect. He’s not a boom/bust signing, a phrase that is all too loosely thrown around the league these days. But there is no doubt that 2019 was a down year for Desir. If he can rebound, however, the Jets got a potential steal in the cornerback.
The lowdown: Injuries coupled with a drop of form saw Desir’s numbers (50 tackles, 11 passes defended, three interceptions) take a slight dip from 2018 (79 tackles, eight passes defended, one interception, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery). While it wasn’t a drastic decline for Desir, it was still a worrisome dip in both numbers and his gamefilm.
Still, it was a surprise to see Desir released by the Indianapolis Colts, especially after signing a three-year deal the previous offseason.
Still, it should be noted that Desir posted a career-high in passes defended and interceptions in 2019, despite the injury.
What Desir brings: He has good length and speed and is an aggressive press corner, the kind defensive coordinator Gregg Williams prefers from his outside defensive backs. He can be too aggressive at times and get beat over the top, but given the Jets talent at safety, it is a risk worth taking.
Desir jams at the line well and is solid in support for the run game. He is a relatively sure tackler as well.
Long-term outlook: A one-year contract that could be worth up to $5.5 million represents good value for the Jets while providing Desir a chance to bounce back in a place where he should be a starter.
Desir has talent and ability. If he’s physically better after missing four games last year due to a groin injury among other knocks he could make an impact in the secondary. He proved in 2018 that he is capable of being a starting, lockdown cornerback. If he can stay on the field, then the Jets have a solution at cornerback in 2020 and Desir will make a bid for a long-term contract.
Grading the move: As with many of the moves by Douglas so far this offseason, this one will take time to develop. Desir isn’t a big name free agent cornerback like Logan Ryan, but he is a solid and dependable player when healthy. This could be a good value for the Jets and gives them someone with veteran experience opposite Bless Austin and possibly rookie Bryce Hall (who has his own injury history).
If he moves beyond the knocks from last year, Desir could be a quality cornerback for the Jets. If the dip in form carries over into 2020, it wasn’t a hige hit against the salary cap. Given the Jets tight salary cap situation this offseason, it was as good of a signing as could be reasonably expected, truth be told.