FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Cornerback DJ Reed enjoyed his two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He wanted to stick around, but he was insulted by their contract offer before free agency.
“They made me an offer, but the offer, in my opinion and my agent’s opinion, was disrespectful for my level of play and the player I am,” Reed told New York-based reporters Thursday after signing a three-year, $33 million contract with the New York Jets.
“I don’t want to get into specifics because I don’t want to bash anybody or do anything like that, but I definitely know my worth should be more. That’s how I feel. I’m grateful to be a Jet.”
Reed, 25, believes he’s one of the best corners in the NFL, and he wanted the Seahawks to pay him as such. He maintained he has “nothing but love” for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, saying they gave him an opportunity, but he didn’t hide his feeling about the negotiations.
“I felt disrespected,” said Reed, who agreed to terms on Tuesday.
The next day, Schneider commented on Reed’s departure and how close they came to re-signing him. He was asked if he was similar to last year with cornerback Shaquill Griffin, when he went down to the wire before Griffin signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Yeah, I would say it was similar, yes,” Schneider said.
Reed was the Seahawks’ top corner last season, starting 14 games and recording two interceptions and 10 assists defended. Only 5-foot-9, he feels he “set a blueprint” for the Seahawks, who traditionally preferred big corners. He believes his success contributed to them drafting 5-foot-10 Tre Brown in the fourth round last year.
“We both benefited from each other, me playing for the Seahawks,” Reed said.
In New York, Reed will be reunited with coach Robert Saleh, who was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 2018 when they drafted Reed in the fifth round. He also was the coordinator when they cut Reed before the 2020 season. He was claimed off waivers by the Seahawks.
The Jets hope Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead, another free-agent addition, can galvanize their young secondary.
“I feel like I’m a CB1,” said Reed, clearly not lacking for confidence. “I think it’s obvious, but people look at my height and say, ‘Oh, he’s a good CB2.’ Well, like, no. If you watch the tape from last year and the year before that, it’s CB1. My stats compared to the All-Pros last year, from Jalen Ramsey to AJ Terrell to — who else was it? — JC Jackson. My stats are with those guys. And I’m going to take another step this year.”
The Jets, who finished 30th in pass defense, are planning to use Reed in his familiar right-cornerback spot. It should be an easy transition for him, considering his background in Saleh’s system. Reed expects big things. Always has.
“Honestly, man, I knew I was gifted, even in high school,” he said. “Even when I had no offers, I knew I was special. I knew God created me as his masterpiece.”
ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.