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4 things to know about new Jets safety Sharrod Neasman

The Jets added to their safety depth Thursday afternoon, plucking veteran Sharrod Neasman out of free agency.

Neasman brings some much-needed experience to a Jets safety room that features two second-year players beyond starters Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Maye. Neasman also has a bit of familiarity with New York’s defensive scheme, making him a relatively intriguing addition ahead of training camp.

Let’s get to know more about the Jets’ newest defensive back.

From Federal Express to the Falcons

AP Photo/Danny Karnik

Neasman’s journey from forgotten high school football star to an NFL veteran who has carved out a solid career for himself is quite the success story. Neasman did not get any offers coming out of Braden River High School and gave up football for two years. He worked morning shifts loading trucks for Federal Express and spent his afternoons working at Pacsun, a clothing store. Eventually, Florida Atlantic came calling with a walk-on offer, giving Neasman the opportunity he had coveted since he started playing football in his Pop Warner days. “I knew that I needed to stay in Florida,” Neasman said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I did well academically in high school. Florida Atlantic gave me an opportunity.”

Experience with Jeff Ulbrich

AP Photo/Danny Karnik

Neasman has yet to take a single practice snap with the Jets, but it is safe to assume he is already familiar with what Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich want to accomplish on defense in 2021. Neasman spent five years with Ulbrich in Atlanta prior to following him to New York. Ulbrich worked as the Falcons’ linebackers coach for the bulk of Neasman’s tenure with the team, but he was also the interim defensive coordinator in 2020. It never hurts to have a player who is already somewhat familiar with a team’s scheme. At the very least, Neasman gives the Jets a veteran who can help the younger defensive backs on the roster adjust to Ulbrich’s system.

Standout seasons

AP Photo/John Amis

Neasman has been a backup for nearly his entire NFL career, starting just two of the 57 games he has appeared in while playing primarily on special teams. The 29-year-old made the most of his reps in 2018 and 2020, though, making a profound impact for the Falcons. The 2018 season was Neasman’s most productive as a professional, as he recorded 44 tackles, four pass deflections and two tackles for loss. Last season was also a year to remember for Neasman, as he made his first two career starts and totaled 27 tackles, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hit and one sack.

Son of the south

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Should Neasman make the Jets, 2021 will mark the first time in his football career that he will play for a team not from the southern part of the United States. Neasman grew up in Sarasota, Fla., and played his college football at nearby Florida Atlantic before signing with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent. Neasman spent a brief amount of time in New Orleans on the Saints’ practice squad before returning to the Falcons, rounding out his professional experience prior to signing with the Jets. Neasman better get used to the cold in a hurry, because he will no longer have the luxury of playing down south in the dog days of the season.



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