CORTLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — After a short holdout, Dee Milliner can focus on becoming the New York Jets’ next shutdown cornerback.
The former Alabama star, selected with the ninth overall pick in April, agreed to a four-year contract Sunday night after he missed the team’s first three practices of training camp.
He is expected to join the Jets at SUNY Cortland on Monday. It was uncertain if Milliner would be able to practice immediately because he was sidelined the entire offseason after having shoulder surgery in March. He will need to pass his physical and conditioning test before being cleared.
“I guess we’ll find out when he shows up,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said this week.
Milliner is expected to compete with Kyle Wilson for the starting spot opposite Antonio Cromartie, vacated a few days before the draft when New York traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
Milliner was considered by many to be the top defensive back in the draft, despite teams having some concerns about the five surgeries he had during his career. From the moment the Jets selected him, he was regarded as Revis’ replacement in the starting secondary.
“I’m not really worried about it, the comparisons and all that,” Milliner said shortly after being drafted.
The 6-foot Milliner had six interceptions and 36 pass breakups in his three seasons with Alabama.
Although he has not been able to practice with the team all offseason, Milliner impressed Ryan with his work in the classroom.
“He was on top of it,” Ryan said a few days ago. “So I think from a mental part, certainly I would expect him to be able to jump in and go. He hasn’t been out there physically and he had the surgery and things like that, so I guess we’ll find out when he shows up.”
Ryan acknowledged that he was a bit “disappointed” and “frustrated” by Milliner’s early absence, but general manager John Idzik remained optimistic.
“Whenever there’s more than one party involved, you don’t have total control over it,” Idzik said Saturday. “So, I really don’t know. All we can do is keep a constant line of communication open, which we have. I’ve talked through our differences and hopefully we’ll get (him) where he belongs, right here on the field.”
Milliner was the Jets’ final draft pick to sign after they got defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson’s deal done shortly before the team left for camp last Thursday. Richardson was the No. 13 overall pick, the selection New York received from Tampa Bay for Revis.
“The player and the organization are going to do what’s in the best interest of each other, or whatever,” Ryan said. “And that’s fine. If the guy is under contract, that’s where I would have the biggest frustration. Here, this is business.”
With Milliner’s signing Sunday night, it left Tennessee guard Chance Warmack as the draft’s only remaining unsigned first-round pick.
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