New York Jets third safety J.J. Wilcox was all set in the Bay Area until an NFL offer was made that he simply couldn’t refuse.
There he was, veteran safety J.J. Wilcox, ready to sign with the San Francisco 49ers during a Bay Area visit.
“It was a three-way decision. It was the 49ers, the Jets and my family,” Wilcox said, via the team’s website. “We came to a decision that it was best to come here. It was an opportunity that was un-turn-down-able and you’ve just got to take it.”
To why the offer was so great new words are created such as un-turn-down-able, then becomes the question? The NFL veteran of five seasons isn’t shy to credit head coach Todd Bowles.
“He was a defensive-minded coach, he played the position,” Wilcox said. “When you look at that kind of stuff, you want to go to a guy that knows your position who knows how to make players into great players.”
Wilcox, 27, will serve as the Jets third safety behind gems Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.
When Rontez Miles suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the spring, the need suddenly cropped up. (Some would argue Miles’ greatest strength lies within special teams and not on defense, but that’s another story for a different day.) After the Kenny Vaccaro visit didn’t materialize into a signing, the need became magnified.
Wilcox, who’s played the majority of his career at free safety, is a versatile individual.
“I’ve played free safety most of my career,” Wilcox told me during the mandatory minicamp. “I hit like a strong safety, so I can play in the box. And I can play in the dime Will linebacker position, too.”
This means he can play every position Adams can.
Maye is the clear-cut centerfielder, but when the Jets go nickel or dime with three safeties, Wilcox can either crowd the box opposite Adams with Maye as the single-high or pair up with the former Florida Gator in taking his deep half while Adams remains in the box.
With J.J. Wilcox, Todd Bowles now has a perfect group of safeties on his hand entering the 2018 NFL season.