The New York Jets won a waiver claim on defensive end Kony Ealy. It might be a risk, but it could ultimately be a great move for Gang Green.After just five months with the New England Patriots, Kony Ealy found himself looking for a new home. The Patriots put the former second-round pick on waivers, believing he wasn’t a good fit in their defense.
According to NFL.com’s Conor Orr, six other teams placed a waiver claim on the defensive end: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Washington Redskins.
The Patriots were likely hoping that Ealy would land outside of the AFC East. But the defensive end has found a new home within the division.
The Jets were awarded the claim on Ealy based on waiver priority. The move is definitely a risk, but there are a few reasons why Ealy could be a good fit with Gang Green.
For starters, Ealy will see a familiar face in the locker room.
New Jets DE Kony Ealy and Sheldon Richardson are cousins and now teammates.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 27, 2017
That’s only going to help make his transition to a new team easier.
Although he does have experience under his belt, as he is entering his fourth season in the NFL, Ealy is only 25 years old. He still has some upside.
Over his first three seasons, Ealy has shown that he has the potential to be a very good defensive end. He has amassed 76 total tackles (42 solo) and has averaged 4.6 sacks per season.
Ealy’s best performance in his NFL career came on the sport’s biggest stage.
He only needed 23 snaps in Super Bowl 50 to make NFL history. Ealy recorded three sacks and intercepted Peyton Manning, joining Darnell Dockett and the legendary Reggie White as the only players to record three sacks in a single Super Bowl.
If the Panthers had won, he would have had a very strong case to be named Super Bowl MVP. In that game alone, Ealy showed just how good he could ultimately turn out to be.
Ealy could be a nice fit in head coach Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme. The Jets defense focuses on applying a lot of pressure, something that Ealy is very capable of doing. He’s another weapon at Bowles’ disposal and could help create matchup nightmares for opposing offenses.
The addition of Ealy also adds depth to the team’s defensive front. Although the Jets are very talented at the position, it never hurts to have too much depth, especially when injuries occur.
For example, Leonard Williams suffered a wrist injury during the team’s preseason contest against the New York Giants. Although the injury appears to be minor in nature, Ealy could be a player that can help fill any injury voids that may occur throughout the season.
If Ealy does prove to be a good fit in New York, the Jets could also use their defensive line depth to their advantage. The organization could look at possible trade options, especially for players such as Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. Both are interesting trade targets and could help the Jets acquire assets that could help them in the future.
As always, there are no guarantees when a team claims a player off waivers. This claim is surely a risk for the Jets, but it’s a risk that could definitely be worth it in the long run.