The Jets are scheduled to work out former Saints safety and free agent Kenny Vaccaro this week. The 15th overall selection in 2013 has demonstrated his ability to be a quality, starting defensive-back in the NFL. Totaling 385 combined tackles, four forced fumbles, and eight interceptions during his five-year stint in New Orleans, Vaccaro is a dynamic player capable of stuffing the run or dropping down into the slot. Although never a Pro Bowl caliber safety, the Texas product can be moved around in the secondary; that alone making him valuable to a defensive coordinator.
No, we are not forgetting the enormous elephant in the room. Gang Green spent their first two draft picks, in 2017, claiming back-to-back safeties. The duo of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye is supposed to lock up the back-end of the Jets’ defense for years to come. Why bring in another safety? What does DC Kacy Rodgers have up his sleeve?
The Perfect Fit?
For starters, football has evolved over the last few decades. A previously ground-heavy league has transformed into a high-flying spectacle centered around pass-catching tight ends and quarterbacks exceeding 400 passing yards a game. This change has created a spiral effect causing coordinators to use schemes and packages that incorporate DBs as linebackers and even pass rushers. If you watched the Jets at all last season, you may remember Adams rushing from the box while Maye patrolled back-center. These packages, many times, require a third safety to either split responsibility at the back-end or even cover in the slot. The Jets used Terrence Brooks as that third safety last year as Adams displayed his ability as a box safety. Maye, a centerfielder, lacks the ability to move around the secondary. Enter Vaccaro.
S Kenny Vaccaro has visited the Dolphins and is meeting with the Colts starting tonight. If he gets out of Indy, he’ll meet with the Jets, source says pic.twitter.com/cTv6KarkNv
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 14, 2018
Rogers, if Vaccaro shows good cover and ball skills in his visit, could use depth at the safety position for nickel sub-packages or quality minutes from a second-stringer. Also known as the “Big-Dime” look, Adams and Vaccaro are capable of stacking the box or falling back in coverage. This used to confuse offenses as they lineup across from one another. Maye can stay true at center and take lone-responsibility over the top or pick a route as the other safety drops back. Essentially, Rogers and Head Coach Todd Bowles would have many schemes to play around with.
The only problem, for this seemingly-perfect fit, is that Vaccaro is a free agent. He will have his choice of suitors which includes the Indianapolis Colts who brought him in earlier this week. The real question is whether Vaccaro still wants to start at safety. Odds are he’ll have a stronger chance of doing so almost anywhere but New York. However, if the former first-round selection is able to accept a new role with the Jets, he could land himself in a favorable position solidifying a strong secondary; making him valuable to the franchise. After all, our very own Kyle Hirshkind believed he’d be a welcome addition back in December!