As the Jets get close to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 23: Tarell Basham
Last year’s ranking: Unranked
Age on Opening Day: 26
How acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Colts on Oct. 5, 2018
Years left on contract: 1
2020 Salary Cap figure: $825,000
Looking back at 2019
Basham was not expected to have a big role entering last season but he ended up becoming a key player on the edge. He played in all 16 games, starting two.
Basham showed a lot of versatility. The Jets asked him to do multiple things from dropping into coverage to rushing and setting the edge or sliding inside at times. He ended up playing a career-high 54 percent of the defensive snaps.
The best stretch for Basham came at the end of the season. In the final three games, he had a blocked punt, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. He showed how disruptive he could be both on defense and special teams, where he was one of the Jets’ best players.
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Basham finished the year with 33 tackles, three for a loss, four quarterback hits, two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.
“That was a person, without saying it the wrong way, saying this the right way, people thought that he’d have a tough time playing for this staff,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “He’s exactly what we want. He comes to work every day with a chip on his shoulders.”
Outlook for 2020
Basham projects to have a big role for the Jets again this year. He could be the starting outside linebacker opposite Jordan Jenkins. Basham showed a lot of potential last year and should benefit from being in Williams’ system for another season.
One thing I would like to see from the coaches is letting Basham rush the passer more. Many times he was asked to drop into coverage last year. That is why he only had two sacks. I thought they turned him loose a little more toward the end of the season and he showed results. Basham had a strong game against the Bills in the season finale and was very disruptive.
Beyond defense, Brant Boyer will be counting on Basham to be one of his core special teams players again.