The New York Jets have been smart spenders in 2021 NFL free agency, in large part due to their investment in pass rusher Carl Lawson. Now, they've added a running mate for the new defensive lineman, agreeing to terms with former New Orleans Saints starter Sheldon Rankins. That's according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, who reported Sunday that Rankins will sign a two-year deal worth up to $17 million as a potential starter in New York.
Drafted 12th overall by the Saints out of Louisville in 2016, the 26-year-old Rankins was one of the top interior D-linemen still available in free agency. Once a full-timer for New Orleans' defensive front, the veteran has missed 10 games due to injury over the last two seasons but "feels he's healthy now," per Garafolo, and will presumably compete for a top defensive tackle spot alongside Quinnen Williams with the Jets.
After a promising but injury-riddled rookie season, in which he logged four sacks in just nine games, Rankins emerged as one of the Saints' top defensive linemen from 2017-2018, combining for 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 24 quarterback hits during that span. An Achilles injury limited him to 10 games in 2019, when he posted a career-low 10 tackles, and the veteran was similarly on the mend in 2020, starting just one of 12 contests and finishing with 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks.