Since his injury last December against the Kansas City Chiefs, many wondered if Jim Leonhard would have any sort of future with the New York Jets. Yesterday, the Jets made that decision via the report that they will not re-sign the 29-year-old safety.
After a big year for Gang Green when he arrived from the Baltimore Ravens with head coach Rex Ryan and linebacker Bart Scott in 2009, Leonhard spent the final quarters of the 2010 and 2011 seasons on injured reserve. Both injuries, a fractured tibia and a torn patellar tendon, are tough for a safety to fully recover from, especially in consecutive seasons. Many fans sensed Jim Leonhard would not return because of his injuries. Now the big question is whether or not he will have much more of an NFL career.
In his time wearing green and white, Leonhard was recognized as the quarterback of the defense. While he was injured, the Jets saw their fair share of adversities against other teams. Without Leonhard in the past two seasons, the Jets went 4-6, including the playoffs. Despite his petite build, he brought a lot of toughness and intensity to the Jets' defense. Many fans will remember when he went after a fumbled ball with his helmet off against the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Round of the 2010 playoffs.
While Jets fans were debating throughout the offseason whether or not Leonhard should come back, the team added safeties to solve the issue. They signed veteran safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell and drafter Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. With those acquisitions, the Jets accomplished two offseason goals by adding depth and getting faster and younger. It is apparent that the Jets were preparing to make the decision about Leonhard for the past few months.
Despite all of the injury concerns, Leonhard has been doing well since getting knee surgery and is confident about his future in the NFL He said to Wisconsin's WEAU-TV, "The knee is feeling great and I'm ready to go. I'm getting antsy. Football is around the corner and I don't have a team… I know I'm going to be playing football somewhere this season. I just have to figure out where."
Now that both sides have decided to go their separate ways, it is time to move on. The Jets need to focus on the year ahead with what they have, and Leonhard needs to stay healthy and find out where he can play at his best.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.