The Jets front office knew what they were getting into when they inked free agent safety LaRon Landry to a one-year, $3.5 million contract this offseason period. They were getting a Pro Bowl caliber player who plays with a fervor and intensity that rivals any player at his position league wide.
While his talent and grit have never been in question, his inability to stay healthy is clearly an ongoing concern for the Green-and-White. When general manager Mike Tannenbaum structured the framework of Landry’s deal, he included $700,000 in guaranteed money, with escalators if Landry stayed healthy and performed at his peak level, allowing the safety to maximize the value of the contract.
Many NFL front offices steered clear of the free agent safety out of fear that Landry was already damaged goods. Coming off two straight seasons curtailed by injuries to his left Achilles tendon, it's understandable why GM's said‘thanks, but no thanks’ to the injury prone defensive back.
To make matters worse, Landry refused to undergo surgery to repair his Achilles tendon; instead opting for platelet-rich plasma treatments following the 2010 season and stem cell treatments after the 2011 season. Doctors advised Landry to have surgery but the NFL standout preferred alternative medicine in lieu of a more invasive procedure.
Landry’s recovery has been a rocky road with speculation that he will not be ready to return in time for the Jets season opener Sunday, September 9, against the Buffalo Bills at Metlife Stadium. To that end, New York signed veteran safety Yeremiah Bell this offseason, who is expected to start in the defensive backfield during Landry’s absence.
The Jets know a thing or two about injury prone safeties, with fan favorite Jim Leonhard having suffered season-ending leg injuries the past two seasons. With Leonhard currently on the free agent market, his return to Gang Green could be in serious jeopardy. New York drafted Antonio Allen and Josh Bush to shore up its secondary, yet Eric Smith and Bell are the only remaining safeties on the Jets roster with experience at the position.
As Gang Green prays for a speedy recovery from its prized free agent, the biggest concern will be whether Landry’s Achilles holds up during a demanding and punishing 16-game NFL schedule.
Will Landry be a boom or a bust for the Jets this upcoming season?
Fans of the Green-and-White, sound off below!
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland
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