By DENNIS WASZAK JR.
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets reached an agreement with former New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins on a two-year deal, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.
The contract is worth up to $17 million, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the deal.
NFL Network first reported the agreement between the Jets and Rankins, who was the Saints’ first-round pick in 2016 out of Louisville.
Rankins will join recently signed Carl Lawson to beef up an already strong defensive line that includes Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers, Nathan Shepherd, Bryce Huff, Kyle Phillips and Jabari Zuniga. That was always a strength of new Jets coach Robert Saleh’s defenses when he was the coordinator in San Francisco.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Rankins, who turns 27 on April 2, had 17 1/2 sacks in five seasons with the Saints but only 3 1/2 the past two years as injuries and inconsistency limited him to just 22 games — and just one start — during that span.
The 12th overall pick five years ago has dealt with several injuries in his NFL career, including a broken leg as a rookie. He showed promise over the next two seasons, including a career-best eight sacks and 12 tackles for losses in 2018. But he tore his Achilles during New Orleans’ divisional playoff win over Philadelphia, and he was inactive until Week 4 of the next season. Rankins then missed the final three regular-season games and the playoffs with an ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve.
Last year, he spent four weeks on IR with a knee injury before returning and finishing the season.
The Jets’ hope is that the injury issues are a thing of the past for Rankins, and he can perform like the player he was three years ago when he appeared to be one of the league’s ascending young defensive linemen.