Rhodes is expected to move into the starting spot that was vacated when Rolle signed with the New York Giants as a free agent Friday.
The deal came one day after Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said he expected Rhodes to participate in the offseason program in a few weeks and play in New York this year and beyond "unless something changes."
Apparently, something did change -- and Tannenbaum jumped at the chance to deal Rhodes, whose future with the Jets was uncertain after a shaky season in which he feuded with coaches over his role.
Rhodes has four years left on his contract and was due a $2 million roster bonus next week. Expected to be one of the standouts on coach Rex Ryan's defense last season, Rhodes struggled and even lost his starting job.
"We all know that the safety position was a hole we needed to fill," Whisenhunt said. "To be able to do that so quickly and with a proven starter off the NFL's No. 1 defense is a tremendous positive for our football team. Kerry has the experience and ability to step in right away."
The high praise was the result of the 12 interceptions, nine sacks and five forced fumbles that Rhodes had in his first four NFL seasons. But Rhodes struggled to live up to that hype, producing no turnovers through the first 10 games.
Jets coaches began to have doubts about the desire of Rhodes, who has aspirations of having an acting career after football. So Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine pulled Rhodes from the base defensive package in favor of Eric Smith.
Rhodes returned to the starting lineup Dec. 13 at Tampa Bay following a meeting with defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman -- one of the conditions set by Ryan. Rhodes appeared refocused and motivated the rest of the season and into the playoffs, finishing with three interceptions and a career-high 13 passes defensed.
Rhodes acknowledged that he was frustrated but humbled by last season. He had been noncommittal about whether he would want to return to the Jets, but he met with the coaches and had a different outlook during the offseason.
"To be honest, I really do want to be here," Rhodes said in an interview with television station SportsNet New York in January. "This is New York. This is the team that gave me my first shot. They gave me the big contract. ... I'm letting the fans know I do want to be here to end my career as a Jet, but sometimes circumstances happen."
Rhodes was a fourth-round pick out of Louisville in 2005.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press