Continuing the series taking a look at some of the more under the radar 2016 free agent signings by the New York Jets, this weeks it’s the turn of cornerback Darryl Morris. Added to give further depth to the secondary and support on special teams, Morris was signed to a one year deal worth $750,000. Here is the low down on the Jets’ newest defensive back…
It would be fair to say that Morris isn’t exactly a household name. He was signed as a UDFA from Texas State University by the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. Following an inauspicious performance during training camp he was cut but cleared waivers and was signed to the practice squad. Morris was promoted to the active roster early in the season due to injury, although he was described at the time as a ‘dime-a-dozen bottom of the roster player‘ by a local ESPN reporter.
However, by the time the 49ers were ready to re-activate corner Eric Wright from the non-football injury list in November 2013, Morris had made enough plays on special teams to cement his roster spot. In fact his performance is cited as a key reason San Francisco cut Nmandi Asomugha, considered one of the best corners in the NFL just two years prior. Instead of keeping Asomugha as injury insurance, they opted to keep a player who was producing; Morris. He made 13 appearances for the 49ers but despite his early impact on special teams, was cut at the end of the season.
Morris was claimed off waivers by the Houston Texans, where he found a home for the next two seasons. He appeared in 23 games and made one start during his two years in Houston, playing both on the defense and special teams. In 2014 he played 23% of all defensive snaps and made the interception (the only of his career) which secured the Texan’s week four victory over the Buffalo Bills. He continued to appear on special teams and in total made 46 combined tackles and broke up 6 passes in his two years with the Texans. Following the 2015 season Houston did not tender a contract to keep Morris, a restricted free agent, thus rendering him unrestricted.
Having seen how the Jets struggled on special teams at times in 2015 and given the shift around in the secondary following the release of Antonio Cromartie, adding to the lower end of the depth chart seems prudent. With Darrin Walls signed to the Lions, Morris slots in well. Mike Maccagnan was a scouting executive during Morris’ tenure in Houston and likely saw something he liked in the DB, possibly his impressive pace. During his Texas State Pro day Morris clocked a 4.33 forty and is said to have run below 4.3 on several occasions. Such an injection of speed will help out the Jets’ special teams unit who watched a number of returners slip through their clutches last season.
Morris is used to grafting for opportunities to play. He had to send out his own tapes to lure a college scholarship. Speaking during his 2013 stint with the 49ers he said: “I’ve always been the underdog, nothing in my football career has come easy. I know I had to work hard and I feel very blessed to be in this situation.” He’ll need continue to battle to prove his worth with the Jets, but for the minimal price paid, Morris could turn out to be a useful addition.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com