Rookie Jabari Zuniga Wants to Be 'Consistent Pass-Rush Presence'
Cornerstones and Returnees
The outside 'backers remained largely unchanged, especially when Jordan Jenkins, who became an unrestricted free agent in March, re-signed with the Jets a month later for his fifth season in green and white. Jenkins has been their steadiest pass rusher in his four years, each year improving his sack totals, from 2.5 to 3.0 to 7.0 to 8.0 last year. He has six strip sacks, the most by any Jet in the last four years and the most by a Jets LB since Calvin Pace had 13 strips from 2008-13.
Also hoping to throw his weight around with Jenkins and rookie DL Jabari Zuniga is Tarell Basham, who came to the Jets off waivers from the Colts during the 2018 season. "I definitely see myself fitting on the edge more so than anywhere," he told newyorkjets.com recently. "I've been training really hard this offseason to become that presence that we need, as far as that consistent pass-rush presence."
Harvey Langi also arrived on October 2018 waivers (from New England) and remains a hard-working contributor at the position, and Frankie Luvu has been a Jet since after the '18 draft, playing in 27 games and last season supplying a team-high 14 ST tackles.
Comings and Goings
There are two newcomers to the OLBs room. Bryce Huff is an undrafted free agent who was very versatile at Memphis, playing OLB, DE and even middle linebacker when he first arrived. In his last two seasons, he rang up big numbers of 34.5 tackles for loss and 16.0 sacks. Ahmad Gooden, who signed with Denver as a UDFA after last year's draft and played in three games for the Broncos before being waived, joined the Jets' practice squad in late December and a week later signed a reserve/future deal.
The only OLB to depart this offseason was Brandon Copeland, who signed with New England as an unrestricted free agent. He spent two seasons with the Jets in 2018-19, posting career defensive numbers in '18 with 10 starts, 47 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 14 QB hits and a career high in '19 with 8 special teams tackles.
GM Joe Douglas knows the importance of OLB and especially edge rushers, whether they pressure the QB from a two- or three-point stance. And he's bullish on the position with the likes of Jenkins, Basham, the drafting of Zuniga and intriguing UDFA Huff.
"I'm really excited that Jordan's back - he's an outstanding teammate and outstanding player," Douglas said. "And when you talk about that position, you can't have enough edge rushers and an edge presence. I think that's one of the premium positions in the league. Everybody's looking to disrupt the passing game, whether it's an edge rusher or an interior rusher. Those guys make impacts on games."