By Gary Phillips
When the Jets signed Morris Claiborne last March, his goal was simple: prove it.
A former first-round draft pick, Claiborne was coming off the best season of his life. That campaign only lasted seven games, though, the latest setback to a career halted by injuries. Instead of cashing in at the age of 27, Claiborne was left with a one-year, $5 million deal.
He had to prove that he could stay healthy before a team was willing to make a long-term commitment. He also had to show that his splendid 2016, when active, was no fluke.
While Claiborne didn’t have a spotless injury report in 2017, he managed to start 15 games for the Jets, the most he’s played since his rookie year. A foot injury slowed his production toward the end of the season, but Claiborne ultimately proved his worth as a starting corner, recording 43 tackles, one interception and eight passes defensed.
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Before the injury, there were times when Claiborne looked like a shutdown corner. On top of that, he proved to be a leader for the Jets’ young secondary. With all he did, there is no reason they shouldn’t be willing to take the gamble that no team dared to take last...