New York Jets: Top 5 players on the roster bubble
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiverQuincy Enunwa
(left) runs with the ball after a catch in front of defensive backRontez Miles
(45) during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
We’re officially in the dead period of the NFL offseason. For the New York Jets, mandatory mini-camp is over and the players have a little over a month of vacation until Jets training camp kicks off. But now is a better time than any to take a glance at what the final 53 man roster could look like and what players could potentially be on the bubble.
Most NFL gurus, analysts and fans agree that the 53 man final roster has to be expanded. Especially with a 45 ‘active game day roster’ and with all the injuries that can occur this becomes even more prevalent. This list certainly is early in the process, especially since we’re a month away from Jets’ training camp and so much can happen in that time. Though this may be on paper one of the most complete Jets teams in recent memory, there are still plenty of position battles to be decided.
Positions like right guard, wide receiver, running back, quarterback, and even at cornerback. The Jets brought in James Carpenter from the Seattle Seahawks to man one of the guard spots. But the other side is a mix of Willie Colon, Oday Aboushi, Brian Winters and some up and coming tryouts including 5th round pick Jarvis Harrison who will look to impress.
Regardless, let’s take a look at 5 players for the Jets who could be on the roster bubble.
Next: 5. Dee Milliner
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner (27) walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
5. Dee Milliner
Jets’ Antonio Cromartie grills Dee Milliner about being on the roster bubble http://t.co/MzqBmSUzuK
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) June 10, 2015
Cornerback Dee Milliner was brought in to high expectations. He was a top-10 draft pick and was brought in to replace Revis who was just traded due to contractual disagreements. Milliner was on top of the world and ready to impress. Unfortunately for him, he was hit with two injury-plagued seasons and the once distraught Jets’ defensive secondary now appears to be one of the best in the league. Even at the beginning of this offseason, it looked as if the Jets would again be going into OTA’s with Milliner being their No. 1 corner. Again go to the VCR and click fast forward again.
The cornerbacks. @Revis24 @CRO31 @BusterSkrine @Blasian_Kiddd @TheRealMarcWill pic.twitter.com/fWt5Qe47vY
— J E T S (@nyjetsfansonly) May 11, 2015
This is what the new Jets’ defensive secondary looks like. Milliner at best is looking at the No. 4 slot on the depth chart, but nothing is guaranteed. The only thing that is guaranteed is Milliner’s contract. Yes if he was actually cut, the Jets would be essentially paying him to not be on the team. As noted, he’s dealt with a myriad of injuries and setbacks over the last two seasons. But what can’t be denied is his talent and age.
If he performs well in training camp and earns the 4th or 5th spot on the team’s depth chart, this could be a blessing in disguise. First off there are reports that he won’t even be fully ready for training camp. The PUP list certainly seems like a strong possibility and at this point it seems like their best option considering the depth at the position. They don’t need Milliner right now which means he doesn’t need to be rushed anytime soon.
Next: 4. Stevan Ridley
Oct 12, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) punches the ground after being injured during the 2nd half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 37-22. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
4. Stevan Ridley
Good call – Stevan Ridley Gets New York Jets Tattoo, Which He Totally Won’t Regret http://t.co/Gpi5CVOLJi
— Mark Thomas (@markthomas24) April 13, 2015
Stevan Ridley may have signed a 1-year contract with his former arch rival Jets, but that isn’t the only signing that happened. Ridley inked a new contract and some new ink on his arm: a Jets tattoo! Though as the tweet says; hopefully he doesn’t regret getting it. The Jets’ backfield is loaded: Chris Ivory, Zac Stacy, Bilal Powell, and now Ridley. How many running backs are the Jets going to keep?
Well that’s the million dollar question and could go a long way in determining whether Ridley makes the team. You can essentially lock in Ivory and Powell (who just signed a new deal). Which leaves potentially one spot between two veterans. The Jets hope Ridley will be a key part of their backfield in 2015. It appears that his past may get in the way of this opportunity with the Jets.
He’s another player on this list that may not even be ready for training camp. Another possible PUP candidate if this injury/healing process persists. Though this was a nice move by the Jets to add some competition to the backfield it was a very low-risk high-reward kind of deal.
Just a couple seasons ago Ridley galloped for over 1,200 yards and multiple touchdowns. But will the fumbles and injuries prevent him from making the final roster? That will be an interesting storyline heading into training camp. The backfield isn’t the only position group that has some roster bubble players. Let’s look at another stocked position group that could see some really good players on their way out.
Next: 3. Shaq Evans
Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Shaq Evans (81) runs with the ball during drills at training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
3. Shaq Evans
Yes, for a change, wide receiver is a stocked position group as Shaq Evans is on the roster bubble, no I’m not crazy. It’s 2015 and change is upon us. Finally, the Jets have a receiving corps worth mentioning without a look of disgust. The Jets added some much needed firepower this offseason with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith. Adding to an already solid if not unspectacular unit that included: Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, and a combination of alternate options near the bottom of the depth chart.
The infamous former general manager John Idzik had a draft class which included taking a number of wide receivers in the 4th round that didn’t pan out in a historically great wide receiver draft class. Jalen Saunders had a myriad of issues and was released before the end of the season and Evans was injured and out for the entirety of the season. With a new-regime in town that has zero ties to Evans, things don’t look good.
The Jets look like they’re going to keep between 5-6 guys at the most at the receiver position. Marshall, Decker, Kerley, Smith are locks to make the roster which opens the door for one or two guys to make their case. Evans will be competing against Quincy Enunwa, T.J. Graham, Saalim Hakim, Chris Owusu, DeVier Posey, Walter Powell, and Jonathon Rumph.
Long story short, Evans has his work cut out for him. Standing out on special teams is going to be a hidden x-factor in determining who out of this bunch rises above the rest. Flipping over to the defensive side of the football is a veteran that has been around the league for a while could be in jeopardy of losing his chance at redemption. Let’s take a look.
Next: 2. Erin Henderson
Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson (50) celebrates his tackle of a Detroit Lions running back in the first quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
2. Erin Henderson
There are players all over the roster that you see as an ‘underdog’ and you hope and pray they can realize their dream and make the roster. Erin Henderson is a guy most Jets fans are hoping can turn his career around.
Those who don’t know, Henderson beat the odds once before; making the Minnesota Vikings’ roster as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He worked himself into a starting position on defense, but after a second arrest due to off-the-field issues, he was released by the Vikings. He received a four-game suspension by the league, which he served in 2014 as an unemployed linebacker.
The linebacker position for the Jets is going to be another tough grind for up and coming guys to crack the 53-man roster. With David Harris and Demario Davis manning the inside and a host of hybrid defensive ends/outside linebackers eating up the other spots, one must truly stand out to make a case to be kept.
From younger guys in Quinton Coples and Mauldin to older guys like Calvin Pace and Jason Babin, there’s already a nice mix of talent. Henderson certainly has the talent to make the roster. And he beat the odds once before as it’ll be quite the feat if he is able to beat the odds once again.
Now we’ve got one more player to put on the roster bubble for the Jets heading into the 2015 regular season opener. It’ll be unfortunate and will most likely be the most difficult one so far if it does end up happening.
Next: 1. Rontez Miles
Aug 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets defensive back Rontez Miles (45) spits water during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 37-7. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
1. Rontez Miles
I think one of the toughest decisions for the Jets organization is going to be what they do at the safety position. Another position that in 2014 that was marred in disarray. But after a fruitful free agency period and some time to heal some injuries, the position is as stocked as any heading into 2015.
The starting safeties so far appear to be Calvin Pryor shifting back to his more natural position of strong safety. While newly acquired Marcus Gilchrist will take over the free safety responsibilities. Jaiquawn Jarrett who emerged late last season will also make a case to be kept. Antonio Allen, the do-it-all corner/safety/rover from USC who now with the surplus of talent at the corner position can hone his craft at safety, should surprise many late this summer. Also don’t forget about undrafted free agent Durell Eskridge from Syracuse who has really impressed so far in camp and OTA’s.
So to say the least, Miles has his work cut out for him. Miles hasn’t been slacking himself either as he has impressed in practice so far. The odds are definitely stacked against him due to all the competition at safety.
For Miles, the free agency splurge at safety isn’t the only thing he’ll have to overcome to make the final-53. He’s six months removed from emergency surgery that almost cost him his leg. He’s been on the borderline of the roster and practice squad the last several years. This could finally be the year he makes the leap and stays there. Another feel-good story to pay attention to once the get into training camp if everything goes his way.
Next: New York Jets: Team must improve in defensive turnovers