One of the less heralded Jets free agents is cornerback Drew Coleman, who prior to the 2010 season was one of the least popular players on the team amongst fans. He struggled heavily in 2009, especially in single coverage and many didn’t even expect him to stick on the roster in 2010. However, Coleman responded by climbing the depth chart and putting together a career year as the Jets nickel back.
He finished with 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 1 interception, and 5 forced fumbles. Despite occasional struggles in coverage, Coleman was still one of the Jets biggest playmakers on defense and one of their better special teams players.
This off-season the Jets have to deal with re-signing defensive backs Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo along with Coleman. You can make an argument that it was Coleman who had the best overall season out of all those players, outside of Cromartie.
Should the Jets make a strong effort to bring Coleman back or should they let him walk and hope Kyle Wilson can take over his role? Bringing Coleman back becomes an easier decision if Cromartie walks because more money would be freed up and the Jets would badly need the depth. Yet, if Cromartie returns the coaching staff might want to let Wilson, last year’s first round draft pick, have the opportunity to get more reps at the nickel spot. Wilson has more size and upside than Coleman and should develop into a better player in coverage. However, does he have the same knack for getting to the quarterback and making big plays?
Drew Coleman was a valuable piece of the Jets defense last year and if he leaves via free agency, it will be up to a player like Wilson or maybe even Marquice Cole to fill his production.