NEW YORK — Former New York Jets star running back/kick returner Leon Washington has been hired by new coach Robert Saleh as a special teams assistant.
Washington’s hiring was announced Wednesday by the team. The 2008 All-Pro returner was also selected to two Pro Bowls during his playing career, which began in 2006 as a fourth-round pick of the Jets out of Florida State and included stints with Seattle, New England and Tennessee.
The 38-year-old Washington will work with special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, who is expected to be retained by Saleh.
Washington spent the last two seasons on Detroit’s staff as part of the team’s William Clay Ford Minority Coaching Assistantship Program. He worked with the special teams and offensive staffs, as well as assisted in the weight room.
He previously worked for a summer each on the staffs of the Atlanta Falcons (2018) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2016) through the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
Washington spent four years with New York, including a Pro Bowl selection in 2008, and became a fan favorite for his speed and elusiveness and do-it-all abilities on offense and special teams. He overcame a broken leg during the 2009 season to resume his playing career in Seattle, where he was traded during the 2010 NFL draft. Washington returned to form as one of the league’s elite kick returners with the Seahawks, making his second Pro Bowl in 2012.
He spent training camp the next summer with New England before being among the team’s final cuts but played two more seasons for Tennessee.
Washington is tied with Josh Cribbs for the NFL record with eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns. He also holds Jets franchise records for all-purpose yards in a season with 2,337 in 2008, kickoff return TDs in a career with four, and kickoff returns for scores in a season with three in 2007 when he was voted by his teammates as New York’s MVP.
Washington rushed for 2,271 yards and 16 touchdowns, and caught 168 passes for 1,286 yards and four TDs in his career. He averaged 25.9 yards on kickoff returns and 9.9 yards on punt returns.