The Jets trimmed their roster down to the mandated 53 players. And while many fringe guys can breathe easy for now, it shouldn’t be a permanent sigh of relief.
Head coach Todd Bowles likes to say that paring the roster down before the season opener is like picking the best fit of a 53-man roster, not necessarily the best 53 players.
But as they stand today, it’s apparent that the Jets are doing a few unconventional things leading up to the Sept. 11 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Looking at their wide receiver depth chart, New York went with a youth movement to balance out the veteran starters, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
Rookie receivers Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, and Charone Peake made the Jets’ 53-man roster — a somewhat surprising move considering their collective lack of experience. But the trio showed considerable promise in practice and during the preseason, giving the front office reason to believe in their potential.
And if they all develop, the Jets will have created a nice bridge between the current star receivers and the hopeful star wideouts of tomorrow. Marshall could have the most immediate impact of the rookie trio, as he’s the current favorite to return punts and kickoffs. Anderson, who went undrafted, led the Jets with 13 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns in the preseason. And Peake has caught the eyes of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
In keeping the three youngsters, the Jets chose to release veteran receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Jeremy Ross.
The retaining of the three rookies also spelled doomed for tight end Jace Amaro. The former second-round pick was never fully embraced by the new regime, which ran out of patience on the one-dimensional player. Amaro, who was claimed by the Tennessee Titans, set all kinds of receiving records at Texas Tech in their spread offense, and racked up numerous national awards, but it never translated on the field for the Jets. And even when he got on the field, he rarely took his hands with him. Couple the drops and mental mistakes with lackluster blocking, and it’s easy to see why Bowles and co. decided to give his roster spot to one of the budding wideouts.
The Jets’ quarterbacks room will also have a unique feel, as they expectedly kept second-year pro Bryce Petty, despite his shoulder ailment. That gives Gang Green four quarterbacks on the roster. Petty will remain the third-stringer on a depth chart that includes Fitzpatrick, backup Geno Smith, and rookie Christian Hackenberg. Bowles said he never thought of putting Petty on injured reserve after his right (throwing) shoulder injury in the preseason finale, which means the Jets will be doing something that no other franchise has done in the past three years, keeping four signal callers on its active 53-man roster.
But by keeping Petty, the Jets might’ve done a savvy thing by potentially setting themselves up for the present (Fitzpatrick and Smith, both in the final years of their deals), with a future of two promising prospects in the wings.
The former Baylor star’s injury wasn’t deemed too serious, which is why the Jets will afford themselves the luxury of keeping their project – a project, coincidentally, that preceded this year’s project in Hackenberg.
The neophyte signal callers, along with the rookie wideouts, are among a handful of projects to be kept aboard. Former first-round pick Dee Milliner, however, wasn’t afforded that same grace. Milliner was waived/injured after a hamstring malady held him back – not to mention his play held him back, as well.
Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan are showing that while this team is in win-now mode, they’re also keeping a keen eye on the future with some curious, if not possibly high-reward moves.
Gang Green notes:
-The Jets placed right tackle Breno Giacomini (back) on the reserve/Physically Unable to Report list (PUP). That leaves either Ben Ijalana or Brent Qvale as the likely starter on opening day. Both offer different skill sets, as Qvale is steadier, if not spectacular, while Ijalana is the more athletic player who can get to the second level of a defense with more ease.
-The waiver wire order was the same as the recent NFL Draft, which meant the Jets were slotted 20th on the claim order.
-Another cornerback dealing with hamstring issues, Dexter McDougle, was also waived. It’s a somewhat startling move considering he was a recent third-round pick (2014).
-Running back Khiry Robinson (leg) was also placed on waivers/injured. He cleared waivers, meaning he’s now a free agent.