The New York Jets and the nine-time Pro Bowl safety agreed to terms on a contract Thursday, bringing one of the NFL’s greatest playmaking defensive players to a secondary on a pass defense that ranks 24th in the league.
The 35-year-old Reed was released Tuesday by Houston, cleared waivers Wednesday and joined the Jets a day later. He was with his new Jets teammates on the practice field wearing a green No. 22 jersey; his familiar No. 20 is currently worn by cornerback Kyle Wilson.
“If we did, I keep that conversation private and all that kind of stuff,” Ryan said. “But part of due diligence, if you’ve coached a player, I’m sure you would want that input. So, did we have it? I think it’s safe to say yes.”
Reed has always been one of Ryan’s favorites, and he once labeled him the greatest safety to play the game. While his physical skills no longer make him one of the game’s elite players, Reed will be able to serve as a leader in the secondary and help bring along young safeties Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush.
There’s a good chance Reed will be ready to play Sunday at Buffalo, at least in certain situations, and it is a low-risk, high-reward situation for the Jets. While Ryan has said he liked his group of safeties, adding a player of Reed’s experience, familiarity with the system and playmaking potential was clearly seen as a positive by both Ryan and Idzik.
Reed missed the Texans’ first two games after offseason hip surgery and was relegated to a backup role behind Shiloh Keo in recent games, making just 16 tackles. He was unhappy about not starting in Houston after signing a three-year, $15 million deal in the offseason following 11 years in Baltimore. Reed also criticized the team for being outplayed and outcoached after the Texans’ seventh straight loss last Sunday.
Reed, who won a Super Bowl last season with the Ravens, has a long list of accolades and was honored as the NFL’s top defensive player in 2004. He has dealt with hip, neck and right shoulder injuries in recent years, but made it through last season without missing a game, making 58 tackles and intercepting four passes.
In 11-plus seasons, the ball-hawking Reed has 61 interceptions _ seven returned for touchdowns _ six sacks and two fumbles returned for scores. He is a five-time All-Pro who also holds the NFL record with 1,541 yards on interception returns. Reed’s nine career postseason interceptions, including one in the Ravens’ Super Bowl win, tie him for the league mark.
The move brings to mind a similar one made by the Jets to bring one of the NFL’s greatest safeties in at the end of his career, when they signed Ronnie Lott in 1993 and he played two seasons with New York.
Reed also joins a growing list of former Ravens who played in Ryan’s defense in Baltimore. Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Trevor Pryce, Derrick Mason, Antwan Barnes and Dawan Landry have all come to New York after playing in Baltimore since Ryan became the Jets coach in 2009.
New England was also believed to be interested in Reed, although coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t say Wednesday whether he would want to add him to the Patriots.