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The impact of Jets bolstering nickel CB depth by signing Isaiah Oliver

The New York Jets bolstered their cornerback position by signing Isaiah Oliver to a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

Oliver was a second-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2018 and played there through the 2022 season. He then spent 2023 with the San Francisco 49ers, appearing in all 16 regular season games.

Oliver has primarily lined up in the slot in each of the last three seasons, giving the Jets some insurance at the nickel cornerback position behind Michael Carter, especially considering how thin New York currently is at safety.

Last offseason, now-former 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks called Oliver “the best nickel in free agency.”

“I feel like my strengths are really being able to get around the ball,” said Oliver last offseason, “be a strong tackler and be able to make plays on the ball. That’s something that I’ve excelled at over the past couple years and I’m still getting better in that way. So, that’s what I’m looking forward to help bring to the team.”

In coverage the last two seasons, Oliver allowed a completion rate of 81 percent but held pass-catchers to only 7.8 yards per reception while coming away with two interceptions and six pass breakups.

In 2023, specifically, Oliver surrendered a catch rate of 90 percent, giving up just 7.0 yards per reception while logging only one pass breakup. Following Week 8, he was taken out of the 49ers’ starting lineup.

Along with coverage responsibilities, run support and blitzing – not something Robert Saleh does a ton of – are important parts of playing in the slot. In 2022, Oliver had one of the higher run defense grades at cornerback from PFF, but he did take a step back in that regard last season.

“I definitely felt much more comfortable in there,” said Oliver about playing in the slot. “I felt like I was able to play to my strengths a little more, just being around the ball, being in the run fit and things like that. I felt real comfortable doing it and I liked doing it a lot. I felt like it was a lot more fun, so that’s something that I’ve definitely grown towards.”

The contract details for Oliver have not yet been reported, other than that it’s a one-year deal, but for what it’s worth, he signed a two-year contract with the 49ers worth $6.75 million, which included $2.9 million guaranteed.

However, after a down 2023 season, Oliver was released earlier this offseason, providing the Niners with cap relief.

This was one of those depth signings that every team makes several during the course of an offseason. Oliver gives the Jets’ defense another option in the nickel while also providing special teams value, having played 202 snaps across four different phases last season.

While, of course, every team wants to find impact players to add during this time of the year, it’s also important that competition within each position group – whether for starting time or on the middle to back end portions of the depth chart – is created, giving the coaching staff options when it comes to constructing the 53-man roster.

At a minimum, Oliver provides that and does so with what is likely little financial commitment.

Story originally appeared on Jets Wire