sheldon rankins jets
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Douglas is adding to the defensive line. The Jets have agreed to a contract with former Saint Sheldon Rankins.

Per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Jets will sign defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. The former New Orleans Saints first-round pick (2016) is agreeing to a two-year contract.

Rankins will certainly add talent to a defensive line that already possesses an up-and-coming star in 2019 first-round pick Quinnen Williams. He’ll be a productive fit within Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s 4-3 scheme and slot in well alongside Williams and free-agent pickup Carl Lawson. The Jets agreed to a three-year deal with the former Bengals defensive end this past Monday.

Rankins additionally replaces Henry Anderson, who the Jets made a cap casualty this offseason. Anderson has since agreed to a two-year deal with the division-rival New England Patriots.

Although he’s dealt with injuries in recent years (playing in just 10 and 12 games in 2019 and 2020, respectively), Rankins has portrayed an ability to rush the passer, having notched eight sacks with New Orleans in 2018. The Jets require a boost to the pass rush after losing edge rushers Jordan Jenkins (Texans) and Tarell Basham (Cowboys). New York also racked up just 31 sacks last year (tied for 20th in the NFL).

Saleh worked with superb defensive lines when he was the defensive coordinator out in San Francisco, so putting emphasis on the position group in free agency makes sense.

This ideology (and move) also bodes the question: What will the Jets do with the No. 23 overall pick in the upcoming draft? Will they focus on the defensive side of the ball?

It’s clear at this point the Jets may draft BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall, and if they don’t and decide to keep Sam Darnold, they might select an offensive weapon such as Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

But in the back half of the first round (where they find themselves due to the 2020 trade of Jamal Adams to Seattle), they could acquire an edge rusher to further improve the talent level in and around the front seven. Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins, Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, and Miami’s Gregory Rousseau may be available by that selection. Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye is greatly talented but figures to be off the board by the time the No. 23 pick arrives.

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