Training camp is still about two months away, but the Jets already seem to be preparing for the possibility that their offseason gamble on LaRon Landry will not work out.
The Jets signed Landry, whose 2011 season with the Redskins was cut short by a left Achilles tendon injury, to a one-year deal in March with the hope he would help solidify the safety position. But Landry's rehab has gone slowly and he has yet to participate in any of the Jets' offseason team activities.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has acknowledged it will be a "challenge" for Landry to be ready for the season opener against the Bills Sept. 9, and the Jets further prepared for Landry's extended absence by signing ex-Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell to a one-year deal last week worth a reported $1.4 million.
In the best-case scenario, the 34-year-old Bell would provide depth behind starters Landry and Eric Smith, but with Landry still ailing and Smith trying to bounce back from a down 2011, Bell could end up starting in place of one of the two players.
Bell was cut by the Dolphins in a salary-cap move despite maintaining a high level of play. He racked up a team-high 107 tackles to go along with an interception and two sacks. Bell, a nine-year veteran who spent his entire career in Miami, was a Pro Bowler in 2009, when he picked off a career-high three passes and added 114 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The Jets also addressed the safety position in the draft by selecting Josh Bush and Antonio Allen in the sixth and seventh round, respectively. Allen signed a four-year deal with the Jets last Thursday (May 17) while Bush agreed to terms on May 13.
In addition, the Jets may also still bring back popular secondary leader Jim Leonhard, who has suffered season-ending leg injuries in each of the last two years. Leonhard has expressed an interest in returning, and while it was believed the Jets would move on from the banged-up 29 year old, Landry's slow recovery may give the team no choice but to re-sign Leonhard.