New York Jets
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Paul Esden Jr.

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles revealed how many roster spots are left up for grabs. Here’s a full analysis of who those players may be, who screwed up their chances, and more. 

After three weeks of preseason football, the regular season is lurking just around the corner. Before we get there, a relatively new rule exists in which each NFL team must make a giant peace offering, moving from 90 men to 53 by Saturday, Sept. 1.

We’ve never seen a bloodbath of this magnitude.


Do the math. For 32 teams, each with 90-man rosters, that’s nearly 3,000 (2,880 to be exact) players fighting for their lives. But only 53 men can win while 37 on each team will lose. That equates to 1,184 men who will be without jobs before the upcoming weekend is over.

Now, consider this math. New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles says only “five or six roster spots” are still up for grabs with one preseason game left to go against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The best men will ultimately win … or will they? A question on the minds of Jets fans everywhere is a simple one: will the Jets keep the best guys? That sounds like a stupid question initially, but it deserves more thought.

The NFL world is surely cutthroat, but it’s not always black and white. That grey matter could, in fact, save a couple of players who are on the proverbial bubble. The underlying theme is birthright: would general manager Mike Maccagnan, given the choice, save his own investments (draft picks) or would he give those less fortunate players (free agent acquisitions) the gig if so they deserved it?

Todd Bowles, New York Jets
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It’s a complicated question to answer and with so many of his ‘children’ on the block, he will have to make some tough decisions.

  • Chad Hansen, wide receiver, California
    • Eight snaps in the latest preseason game
    • Fourth-round pick (2017)
      • Only eight snaps in what some call the most important preseason game isn’t a ravishing sign about one’s future longevity on the team. Something seemed odd when this former fourth-round pick was “lighting it up” in the spring. On my weekly New York Jets podcast, The Jets Zone, I continued to ask insiders whether the hype was real and they were lukewarm about it. Now I see why.
  • ArDarius Stewart, wide receiver, Alabama
    • 17 snaps in the latest preseason game
    • Third round pick (2017)
      • This is where the first real question for Mike Maccagnan arises: would he dare cut a former third-round pick who only has a year under his belt? Other veteran wide receivers have been far more impressive. Although it should be noted, due to Stewart’s two-game suspension, the Jets could wait until during the season to make their decision on his future.
  • Dylan Donahue, outside linebacker, West Georgia
    • 10 snaps in the latest preseason game
    • Fifth-round pick (2017)
      • There’s a variety of reasons to cut Dylan Donahue and that’s never a good thing. First off, he could’ve killed somebody earlier this year when he was driving drunk the wrong way down the Lincoln Tunnel. Because fans hear about these stories so much they’ve grown numb to it, but this was serious. Secondly, quite frankly, he’s just been disappointing. The Jets have arguably the worst crop of edge rushers in the entire league. The lone saving grace is Kevin Greene who coaches the outside linebackers. While technically you aren’t supposed to have favorites, it’s hard to hide the apparent affection between Greene and Donahue. Perhaps his pleas at the roundtable can save his life, but at this point, I don’t even know if that’ll be enough.
  • Lorenzo Mauldin, outside linebacker, Louisville
    • Two snaps in the latest preseason game
    • Third round pick (2015)
      • It seems as if Lorenzo has stayed well past his welcome with the Jets. Quite frankly he hasn’t gotten on the field, so how can the Jets possibly judge him? Also what does it say that the Jets have nothing in the cupboard at outside linebacker and they’re considering cutting Mauldin? That should tell you all you need to know on the matter.
  • Trenton Cannon, running back, Virginia State
    • 20 snaps in latest preseason game
    • Seventh-round pick (2018)
      • Trenton has practice squad written all over him. While initially, he impressed the coaching staff, he also found the antidote to anger the staff and that’s by fumbling the ball, which he has done more times than most can count this preseason. However, seventh round picks are easier to cut because you didn’t invest as much in them, so your expectations were lower.

New York Jets

Head coach Todd Bowles was asked how difficult it will be to make this decision between draft picks and hired mercenaries (free agent and other acquisitions) for roster spots, he didn’t seem fazed:

“It’s not as challenging. You draft a guy because you like him, but if someone outperforms you, whether it’s a draft pick or a free agent, if you get outperformed then you are probably going to lose your spot.” That opinion will be tested this on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Here is the 'Island of Misfit Toys' that could be replacing the draft picks above:

  • Charcandrick West, running back, Abilene Christian University
    • N/A
    • Undrafted free agent (2014)
      • It looks like Cannon’s potential replacement was a late-cap casualty by the Kansas City Chiefs. West is a do-it-all kind of back who can fill in at returner and in Elijah McGuire’s role in the offense as a change-of-pace player. Although as I mentioned previously, this wouldn’t be as egregious because Cannon was a seventh-round pick.
  • Charles Johnson, wide receiver, Grand Valley State
    • 19 snaps in the latest preseason game
    • Seventh-round pick (2013)
      • I think everyone in this world deserves second chances. I actually love the mentality of players who have experienced loss and they never want to taste that again, so they fight even harder. It’s not that I necessarily advocate for players to get drafted and to fail, but it sure brings a sense of reality to this ‘game’ so many people enjoy. I expect Johnson to make this team after developing a rapport with Sam Darnold.
  • Tre McBride, wide receiver,
    • 16 snaps in the latest preseason game
    • Seventh round (2015)
      • Another relative unknown who has bounced around the league and seemingly has finally “got it” and is well on his way to making the Jets roster. Not only is it about making plays in games and in practice, it’s about those ‘wow’ moments that coaches remember when they’re later discussing who should stay and who should go.
  • Frankie Luvu, outside linebacker, Washington State
    • N/A
    • Undrafted (2018)
      • Frankie never thought he would get this far, but now that he’s here, he’s simply enjoying the moment. He’s a worthy investment for the Jets because they just have nothing right now so even an unknown is of great intrigue because maybe he can just help a little bit. Luvu had the lone sack in the game against the Giants. Hopefull,y he can keep being that guy for the Jets in the regular season.
  • Brandon Copeland, outside linebacker, Pennsylvania
    • N/A
    • Undrafted (2013)
      • Brandon is a super fast and experienced cat who has been around the block and another guy that has earned his spot on this team. The Jets need bodies and they need willing guys to put it all out on the line and I don’t know anyone better to do that than Copeland.

New York Jets

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