1. Safety LaRon Landry
Coming off two consecutive seasons curtailed by Achilles injuries, Landry was widely regarded as a high-risk, high-reward player during this past free agency period. New York’s front office rolled the dice on the talented but injury riddled safety looking to bolster its beleaguered secondary corps. Landry played in 17 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons calling into question his future in the NFL.
Opting to forgo surgery in favor of alternative treatments, Landry’s recovery is right on schedule, but he will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The coaching staff is encouraged by its prized free agent’s progress, but critics contend that Landry may not be ready to start the regular season. Back in March, Gang Green inked Landry to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million with $700,000 in guaranteed money.
The Jets also signed veteran safety and former Miami Dolphin Yeremiah Bell as an insurance policy for Landry, while Eric Smith and rookies Josh Bush and Antonio Allen will fight for a spot in the safety rotation. When healthy, Landry is one of the top playmakers at his position and in spite of legitimate injury concerns, he’s a worthwhile gamble for Rex Ryan and the Jets.
A top tackle prospect entering the 2008 NFL draft, Otah spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers enjoying tremendous success when he wasn’t sidelined due to injury. Playing only 29 out of a possible 64 regular season games over that span, Otah has been plagued by knee injuries throughout his young career.
The former Pittsburgh Panther was the No. 19 overall selection in the 2008 draft, standing a towering 6-foot-6 and tipping the scales at a whopping 330 pounds. Few players play with the force and physicality that Otah has demonstrated when healthy, but his menacing style has taken its toll on his body. The Nigeria native has undergone knee surgery the last two years raising serious concerns about his longevity and future outlook in the league.
This week New York’s front office sent a conditional seventh-round pick to Carolina in exchange for Otah in order to create competition for incumbent starter Wayne Hunter. Prior to last season, Hunter spent his entire career as a back-up, inheriting the starting right tackle job from Damien Woody who went down with a knee injury in 2010 and retired following that season. Nicknamed “The Turnstile” Hunter performed miserably and was the main culprit for quarterback Mark Sanchez suffering a career-high 39 sacks in 2011. Otah is talented enough to userp Hunter as Gang Green’s starting right tackle, assuming he’s healthy.
New York signed Schillens to compete for a spot along its wide receiving corps. Entering his fifth season out of San Diego State University, Schillens has played in only 44 of a possible 96 games during his pro career. When general manager Mike Tannenbaum signed Schilens to a one-year, $765,000 contract, he envisioned the former Raider as a valuable special teams contributor who could also provide quality depth at the wide receiver position.
Schilens has never eclipsed 400 yards receiving or hauled in more than two touchdowns in any single season, but could emerge as a viable No. 4 receiving option behind Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley on the outside.
With the Jets harkening back to a ground-and-pound attack, Schilens’ opportunities may be limited in Tony Sparano’s redesigned offense. Prior to the Jets trading up for Hill in the second-round of April’s draft, Schillens figured to play a central role in the offense, but will likely take a backseat to the supremely talented Georgia Tech rookie this upcoming season.