FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Safety Ed Reed and the New York Jets reached an agreement Thursday on a contract after the nine-time Pro Bowler cleared waivers Wednesday afternoon following his release by the Houston Texans.
The Jets announced that Reed will practice with the team Thursday. He will wear No. 22 with the Jets, who released linebacker Ricky Sapp to clear a roster spot.
Reed played for Jets coach Rex Ryan from 2002 to 2008 during Ryan’s time as an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens. Ryan once called Reed “the best safety that’s ever played.”
Reed is familiar with Ryan’s system, his defensive coordinator (former Ravens assistant Dennis Thurman) and the team’s lead safety, Dawan Landry, another ex-Raven.
On Wednesday, Ryan sounded intrigued by Reed’s availability, acknowledging that he and general manager John Idzik discussed the player. People close to the situation questioned whether Idzik would sign off on it. Idzik, hired in January to rebuild the team, is operating from a long-term plan.
But the landscape has changed, as the Jets are a surprising 5-4, currently holding the second wild-card position in the AFC.
Reed will be available for the Jets’ game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills (3-7). The Jets play the Ravens the following week. If Reed plays against the Ravens, it will be his second game this season against his former team. He made his season debut for Houston in a 30-9 loss at Baltimore in Week 3.
Reed is by far the splashiest veteran acquisition of the Idzik regime. But the sure Hall of Famer comes with questions.
After leaving the Ravens to sign a three-year, $15 million contract with the Texans, Reed underwent hip surgery last offseason and missed the first two games. He played in only 49 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, recently losing his starting job. He had zero interceptions, zero pass breakups and only 16 tackles.
In last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Reed played only 12 snaps and said afterward the Texans had been “outplayed and outcoached.” That seemingly sealed his fate.
The NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, Reed isn’t what he used to be. But the Jets’ pass defense, yielding 251 yards per game (ranked 24th), needs help. They have only five interceptions, including just two by the safeties.
Reed probably will start alongside Landry, although it’s possible he could be the No. 3 safety. Ryan is high on second-year safety Antonio Allen and may not want to remove him from the lineup. But the Jets use three safeties in certain packages, meaning all three could be on the field.
Reed is one of the most accomplished defensive players in recent history. He has 61 interceptions for 1,541 return yards (a league record) and seven touchdowns. He is a five-time All-Pro, last earning the honor in 2010.
- ESPN Senior NFL Analyst
- Joined ESPN in 1991
- Has covered every Super Bowl since 1979
- Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
- Syracuse University graduate