'For Whom the Bell Tolls'

Managing Editor
Posted Apr 23, 2012

The safety position was an adventure for the New York Jets in 2011. Jim Leonhard was lost for the season due to injury for the second time in as many years, while the combination of Brodney Pool and Eric Smith were victimized by opposing quarterbacks. Could free agent Yeremiah Bell help alleviate Gang Green's safety woes?

The Jets have been on a safety shopping spree this offseason. In the latest of possible free agents signings, the Jets are meeting with former Miami Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell as per a league source.

The 34-year old defensive back spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Miami. While the Jets recently inked strong safety LaRon Landry to a one-year deal, Bell would likely be utilized as a situational defender with the Green and White.

Selected in the sixth-round of the 2003 NFL draft, Bell brings veteran leadership to a team looking to rebuild its fractured locker room. Bell’s possible arrival in New York could spell the end for strong safety Eric Smith. Smith, whose lack of speed and range in coverage was exposed in 2011, could potentially be released; saving the Jets 2-million dollars in salary cap space.

While Bell represents a significant upgrade over Smith, he still lacks the ball-hawking skills that New York has sought since the free agency period commenced. As the pool of free agent talent dwindles it’s more and more likely that safety Jim Leonhard could return to the Green and White on a short-term, low-risk contract. Coming off consecutive season-ending leg injuries, Leonhard would be a major question mark for New York moving forward.

As Gang Green eyes the 2012 free agent draft class, it’s uncertain whether they will use their first-round pick on an outside linebacker, safety, offensive lineman or running back. Currently, the Jets do not have a starting free safety under contract leaving a gaping hole in the backend of their secondary.

New York’s general manager Mike Tannenbaum will need to dig deep into his bag of tricks to help shore up the team’s depth chart on draft day. With endless uncertainties surrounding the 2012 New York Jets, the front office will have to strike gold with its draft choices come Thursday evening.

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com

You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland By: TwitterButtons.com

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