Brian Poole
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Brian Poole was the lone bright spot at cornerback for the New York Jets in 2019. They need to do everything in their power to retain him. 

New York Jets‘ cornerback Brian Poole was one of the best free-agent signings in 2019 by any NFL team. He was an elite player in 2019 by any measure, not just in the slot, but among all cornerbacks.

Poole was 26th in receptions allowed, 13th in yards allowed, seventh in yards per reception and ninth in yards-per-target. He was 19th in completion percentage allowed and 30th in passer rating allowed.

Poole shut down slot receivers across the league and he did so for only $3 million. Obviously, the Jets aren’t going to be able to keep him at that salary. After a breakout season, Poole is going to be looking for a raise.

He’s set to hit the open market on March 16. The New York Jets can not afford to let that happen. General manager Joe Douglas has too many other needs to allow his best CB to walk in free agency this year.

What would a new contract look like

After a breakout year for Poole, he’s going to expect a raise; that’s a no brainer. The real question is, “How great of a raise?” The truth is that slot CBs don’t get paid that much, despite their increasing role on the field.

The highest salary for any player who has spent at least 50% of their time in the slot is just $7 million a season. That contract was given to Bryce Callahan by the Denver Broncos following his breakout 2018 campaign.

With the rise in cap and Poole’s age, it’s likely that he’d look to beat Callahan’s contract. With that in mind, something along the lines of a four-year, $32 million contract makes sense.

That would extend Poole through his age-31 season while resetting the market for slot CBs. It also keeps his salary low enough that the New York Jets aren’t handicapping themselves by signing him like they would if they went out and signed a Byron Jones.

That would currently be 27th among CBs in annual value, right in line with his passer rating allowed number. It’s fair value for how he played last season. Nobody would question that.

That said, the real crux of the deal will be the guaranteed money. Callahan got just $10 million in guaranteed money. That leaves him vulnerable to being cut this offseason after missing 2019 with injury. Poole would likely look to get at least two years guaranteed.

The New York Jets likely won’t want to give that much guaranteed money. Slot CB play is the most inconsistent year-to-year of any position in the secondary. Considering Poole wasn’t as great in 2017 and 2018, it’s hard to believe that this break out year is the real him.

Poole was just 26-years-old at the start of the season. It’s possible that he simply put it together and played his best. At his age, that’s certainly possible. When big, long-term money is at stake, it’s possible.

Jamal Adams, The Prez T-Shirt

From Poole’s perspective, he’d likely want something around $18-20 million in guaranteed money. That would protect him for two full seasons and give him some cushion if he’s cut in year three. Joe Douglas isn’t likely going to want to go that far.

Given how volatile slot CBs are, he’ll likely want to come in at a much lower price—something in the $11-13 million dollar area. That makes it so that Poole would have one year fully guaranteed and a second-year mostly guaranteed.

It would give Douglas flexibility so he could cut Poole if he was absolutely awful in 2020 in a Trumaine Johnson way. It would also give Poole coverage so that if he did have a drop in production from elite to good or okay he would have enough dead cap that he likely wouldn’t be cut.

Contract negotiations like these are complex because every dollar counts. Both sides are likely to take firm stances o the guaranteed money. It could lead to an unfortunate split.

In the end, the New York Jets need to re-sign Poole. They simply don’t have the resources to replace him with so many other needs. He’s also a perfect fit in Gregg Williams’s defense, so it’s likely that he’ll fit to keep Poole on the roster.

The New York Jets only have one more month to get a deal done with Brian Poole. They should do everything in their power to get this deal done. Joe Douglas should lockdown slot CB for the foreseeable future and quickly move to the next issue.

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