There’s no time like the present. And for New York Jets’ cornerback Ellis Lankster, that statement could not be any more true.
It’s no secret that the Jets weren’t great when it came to defending the pass last season, giving up 246.7 passing yards per game (22nd best in the league). Most of those troubles came in the form of the No. 1 and No. 2 guys, Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner.
Cromartie was released Sunday and Milliner is entering his second season. Both were plagued with injuries last season, leaving the secondary in shambles.
Now, with the offseason in full swing with free agency starting Tuesday, the time is now for Lankster.
The former Mountaineer has been flying under the radar as a valuable defensive back for some time now. But the Jets have finally realized that and re-signed the young corner, keeping him in a Jets’ uniform and taking his base salary from $630,000 to an average of $815,000 over the next two seasons according to NFLPA records.
Lankster has been a key special teams player. The cornerback had 18 tackles last season after posting 39 tackles in 2012. He also had two interceptions in 2012, the only two of his career.
The re-signing of Lankster came before the release of Cromartie, showing that the Jets have seen value in keeping Lankster around.
With Cromartie out of the picture, Lankster could vie for some more playing time with a strong camp. It’s likely that the Jets will allow Milliner and Kyle Wilson take the reins of the secondary, Wilson playing for a new contract, and use Lankster in a reserve role as they have been.
When teams are filling out their rosters before free agency, they look at who they cannot afford to lose and re-sign them. Those players are generally big name guys that their current teams don’t want to see standing across the field from them on Sundays or they’re guys like Lankster, who are value players, not only on the field but in the budget.
For Lankster, as his pay starts to increase so, too, does his worth. Now, he just needs his play to go up with his dollar signs and he’ll be on the field a lot more this coming season.