The Patriots let go of Kony Ealy after just five months on Saturday, but the former second-round pick isn’t going very far.
Ealy was claimed off waivers by the Jets on Sunday, the team announced. Ealy’s cousin, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, is also on the team and could help the jettisoned pass rusher settle into a more permanent home.
The Jets are one of the few places that could afford to take a high-profile risk this close to the regular season. Gambling on a young bedrock of versatile defensive players, Ealy might fit in well with Todd Bowles’ versatile, pressure-heavy scheme.
The franchise has been a career regenerator for other highly-drafted players before, momentarily saving the career of former first-round pick Aaron Maybin back in 2011. Rex Ryan is no longer in town, but a similar defensive philosophy that requires rushers of all shapes and sizes remains.
Ealy’s stellar performance in Super Bowl 50, where he logged an interception and three sacks over just a small handful of snaps, serves as the ultimate reminder of what can be. Over three seasons, he has 14 total sacks, an interception, six forced fumbles and five passes defensed.
The immediate reaction to the move will likely be if the Patriots couldn’t make it work, who could? New England tried to find a trade partner for Ealy, ideally outside of the division. Now, they’ll have a front-row seat to his development in New Jersey.