The Jets have trimmed their roster to 53 players. Now the real work begins. The team will host the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11 for its regular-season opener.
How is this roster currently looking? Are there any surprises to the moves made?
San Fran to New York. It’s clear head coach Robert Saleh wants to replicate the dominant defensive line he coached when he was with the 49ers. Because the Jets have kept eleven defensive linemen.
Yes — eleven.
We knew Carl Lawson would make the roster, and the same went for John Franklin-Myers, Quinnen Williams, and rookie defensive ends Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons.
But under-the-radar guys like Nathan Shepherd and Vinny Curry additionally made the team. Although the latter could find himself on injured reserve, which would sideline him for the first four games.
By keeping double-digit defensive linemen, the Jets are once again emphasizing the importance of pass-rushing and pass-rushing depth in Saleh’s defensive system. After all, general manager Joe Douglas did sign Lawson to a three-year deal, sign Franklin-Myers to a four-year extension, and draft Johnson and Clemons, right?
DB depth concerns? The Jets currently hold 10 defensive backs on the roster.
This is concerning when you consider how the unit includes Justin Hardee, a primary special teams player, and safety Ashtyn Davis, who’s struggled mightily in coverage since entering the NFL in 2020.
Cornerbacks Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols can’t be fully relied on to assume the top reserve roles on the boundary either, and undrafted rookie safety Tony Adams is as unproven as anyone.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner additionally played only nine snaps of football last year before suffering a season-ending triceps tear in Week 1.
That leaves rookie first-round corner Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, veteran corner D.J. Reed, veteran safety Jordan Whitehead, and second-year slot corner Michael Carter II. This core group of defensive backs must turn heads during the regular season. Struggles in this department will prevent the Jets from fully taking advantage of their deep pass rush.
Mitchell in, Edoga/McDermott out. The Jets are putting their faith in rookie fourth-round offensive tackle Max Mitchell to serve as the top reserve swing tackle. Mitchell will be behind starters Duane Brown (left tackle) and George Fant (right) on the depth chart.
This is an interesting move that supports Douglas’ decision to take Mitchell out of Louisiana. The organization trusts Mitchell enough to retain him instead of Chuma Edoga and Conor McDermott, both of whom were cut.
Not only is Mitchell the top reserve tackle — he’s the only reserve tackle. Shows you what the Jets truly think of the first-year lineman.
Four tight ends? It was obvious the Jets were going to keep at least three tight ends. And it was obvious who those tight ends were going to be. Douglas signed C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, both to three-year contracts, in March. He then drafted rookie Jeremy Ruckert in the third round out of Ohio State.
But in a surprising move, the Jets kept a fourth guy at the position: Lawrence Cager, a converted wide receiver.
Cager’s athleticism as a former wideout provides him with upside as a tight end, and he could certainly add a different element to the intermediate passing game. That’s good news for a Mike LaFleur- and Zach Wilson-led offense looking to improve from last year (the Jets were 26th in total offense and 28th in scoring).
Mims remains…for now. The Jets have kept wide receiver Denzel Mims on the 53-man roster. But he may not be with the team for much longer.
The frustrated third-year receiver has requested a trade. He wants to see the field consistently, and that might not occur in Florham Park. Since his second-round drafting in 2020, Mims has descended the depth chart. The Jets signed Corey Davis and drafted Elijah Moore last year, and then drafted Garrett Wilson in this year’s first round. Douglas also re-signed Braxton Berrios, proving the receiver/return specialist’s superb value to the team.
It’s unclear if the Jets will eventually trade Mims, who has two years remaining on his rookie deal. Connor Hughes of SNY reports the Vikings, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Panthers inquired about Mims, but that the Jets’ asking price was a fourth-round draft pick. Since that type of return would be a total steal for New York, the potential trade partners declined.
So now we wait. If the Jets trade Mims before Week 1, they could probably get a fifth-rounder, at best, in return. They could then choose to elevate any of their practice squad guys — preferably someone with special teams value — to fill that No. 6 receiver role.
Or the Jets will enter the regular season with Mims on the team. After that, anything can happen. We know Davis and Moore aren’t immune to injury (both missed a combined 14 games last year). So an injury to one of those top guys might lead to Mims seeing time in relief. Or, Mims could remain a reserve and the Jets could deal him at some point before the Nov. 1 trade deadline.