Throughout their history, the New York Jets have had some talented players including these five who should have never been allowed to leave
It’s been a while since the New York Jets were threats in the AFC East, although they hope that’s beginning to change. They were 4-12 last season but they did find a quarterback to build around in Sam Darnold.
They’re also revamping their defense thanks to selections such as Alabama’s Quinnen Williams in the 2019 NFL Draft as well as Jamal Adams, the safety they selected sixth overall in the 2017 draft out of LSU.
Of course, rebuilding is a tough process. The Jets understand this but have to feel good about some of this young talent. The only catch is, they need to make sure they don’t allow any of their building blocks to leave in free agency — or get crazy and decide to trade away someone who can be a star.
With that being said, we look at some times in the past when New York did allow someone to leave who they shouldn’t have. Here are five players that Gang Green should have never let get away.
Toughest Omission: Brett Favre, Quarterback
Back in 2008, the Jets made a move to land one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. They sent a conditional fourth-round pick to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for Brett Favre. The Hall of Fame quarterback had just lost his job to Aaron Rodgers and was in need of a new home.
As for the Jets, they wanted an upgrade from Chad Pennington who was released after No. 4 arrived. Unfortunately, New York didn’t get the Favre we all remember but that was due to a shoulder injury rather than the fact that he was 39 years old.
After going 9-7 as a starter while throwing for 3,472 yards, Favre retired. He then was released by the Jets but came back to play again. Surgery repaired his shoulder and he ended up with the Minnesota Vikings for two more seasons.
He had arguably the best season of his career, throwing for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven picks. He may not have lasted long but those numbers would have looked nice had he put them up while wearing all green.
5. Demario Davis, Linebacker
The Jets allowed linebacker Demario Davis to leave not just once, but twice in his career. A third-round pick out of Arkansas State in 2012, Davis started three games as a rookie and flashed plenty of potential and was moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore. That was also when new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman switched schemes from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Davis played well as one of the two starting inside linebackers, racking up his first career 100-plus tackle season. After registering 107 tackles that season, Davis followed it up with 116 in 2014 while also recording 3.5 sacks. In 2016. Davis hit the open market and was given a two-year contract to join the Cleveland Browns.
The Jets realized they should not have let him go and brought him back in 2017 as they sent Calvin Pryor to Cleveland in exchange for their former linebacker. Davis then had the best season of his career, going for 135 tackles with five sacks. Again, he entered free agency and expressed a desire to stay in New York, but the Jets messed that up and never made an official offer to him.
Davis left again, this time signing with the New Orleans Saints where he helped their entire defense perform at a higher level. Davis tied his career-high with five sacks while notching another 110 tackles and forced two fumbles.
4. Aaron Glenn, Cornerback
One of the better defensive backs to ever play in The Big Apple for the Jets was Aaron Glenn. Taken 12th overall in 1994 out of Texas A&M, Glenn was an instant starter for Pete Carroll’s team. He held his own and registered 67 tackles which remained his career-high (he did tie that total in 2002).
Glenn spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Jets and during that time, he played 121 games and recorded 397 tackles, had 24 interceptions — three of which he scored touchdowns on, broke up 36 passes, and had five forced fumbles. He also made the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons as he was appointed to the team in 1997 and 1998. In addition to his ability as a coverage corner, Glenn was a contributor on special teams as a kick returner. He had 2,578 yards with a touchdown during his time with the Jets in this role. He left the team in 2002 when he was left unprotected ahead of the 2002 expansion draft.
Picked up by the Houston Texans, Glenn was a starter for them over the next three seasons. He made his third career Pro Bowl in 2002 when he had 67 tackles and five picks. He then went to Dallas in 2005, following Bill Parcells who had taken over as their head coach.
As the third corner in Big D, Glenn had four interceptions in 2005 and added another in 2006. He played seven seasons after the Jets let him go and it wasn’t until after his days in Dallas that he started to slow down.
3. John Riggins, Running Back
John Riggins, who was also known as “Riggo,” or the Diesel,” had a remarkable NFL career. He played for 14 seasons and during that span, the running back was a two-time yardage leader in the NFL, won the 1978 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award and was a Super Bowl MVP after going for 166 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl XVII.
All those accomplishments came as a member of the Washington Redskins, but it was the New York Jets who originally drafted him out of Kansas.
Riggins spent the first five seasons of his career with the Jets and had a respectable start to his career. He went for 3,880 yards and 25 touchdowns, with his best season coming in 1975. He was named to the Pro Bowl that year after going for 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns — both of which were career-highs with New York.
Following that season, he left to join the Redskins where he went from a good running back to one of the best in the game. Riggins played nine more seasons in the league and topped the 1,000-yard mark four times in that span. His best personal statistical season came in 193 when the 34-year old had 1,347 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns, which was an NFL record that stood until 1995 when Emmitt Smith topped him — others have done so since then with LaDanian Tomlinson now leading with 28 in a season.
Riggins is the Redskins all-time rushing leader with 7,472 yards and has their most touchdowns on the ground with 79. Had he stayed in New York for his entire career, his total numbers (11,352 yards and 104 touchdowns) would have put him atop their record books.
2. Keyshawn Johnson, Wide Receiver
In 1996, the Jets had the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft and it was well known that they were all in on USC wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Already a star before even entering the league, Johnson appeared on the television show Coach where he threatened to play in Canada if the fictional Orlando franchise drafted him with that pick. As for the real NFL, Johnson did go first overall and was the first wideout to do so since Irving Fryar back in 1984. He was good as a rookie but really took off the next three seasons while playing for coach Bill Parcells — who is known for being tough on players. Johnson and Parcells just seemed to click and increased his yardage and reception totals every season with the Big Tuna.
After Parcells left, Johnson was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for two first-round picks. While the haul they received was great, and they did land John Abraham, the Jets never really replaced his production as fullback Richie Anderson had the most receptions the following season with 88.
As for Johnson, he went on to play seven more seasons and won a Super Bowl ring with the Bucs. He then rejoined Parcells in Dallas for two seasons and had 981 yards and 839 in that stretch. His final season in the NFL was in 2006 and he again played well, recording 815 yards on 70 catches. With all that being said, the Jets did get Abraham in the trade so they did well, unfortunately, they allowed him to go as well after six seasons.
1. John Abraham, Defensive End
This one would have never happened had the Jets never traded Keyshawn Johnson, but the fact is the Jets did trade their No. 1 wideout during the 2000 offseason. Their best return on that investment came in the form of John Abraham, who was added with the Bucs No. 13 overall pick.
That season, the Jets own pick was No. 12 which they used on Shaun Ellis and then added the South Carolina product with the very next selection. Both players helped improve the defense, but Abraham was the superior pass rusher.
By his second season, he had recorded 12 sacks and followed it yo with 10 more in 2002. He missed time over the next two seasons but still showed off plenty of ability as an edge rusher before again hitting double digits in 2005 — which also ended up being his final season with New York.
Abraham was sent to the Atlanta Falcons that offseason in exchange for the 29th overall pick. Again, they ended up landing a good player as they took Nick Mangold but it’s hard to say that was worth sending away someone as talented as Abraham.
The edge rusher spent the next seven seasons with the Falcons and played his best football. He had 233 tackles, 68.5 sacks, and forced 24 fumbles in that span. He continued to excel late in his career as he even headed to Arizona in 2013 and registered 11.5 sacks as the age of 35.
All great players, but looking back it now seems that Abraham was the biggest mistake. They haven't found that player to replace him since he left. He had been injured for parts of a couple of seasons before they traded him and I think that had something to do with it.