Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Daryl Richardson (35) runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
It’s official, excluding any extra waiver wire moves the New York Jets decide to make over the next several days, they have their final-53 man roster ready to go heading into the start of the regular season. Though there were a lot of shocking cuts and tough decisions to get to that final roster cut down, the decision makers of the Jets know what it takes to field the very best team possible.
Let’s break down the biggest roster cuts made by the Jets and the hardest decisions that will surely make sense over time.
Next: 15. Daryl Richardson
Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Daryl Richardson (35) runs against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
15. Daryl Richardson
Not a surprising cut by any means but Richardson has done everything the Jets have asked him to during his tenure. Unfortunately, it inevitably came down to the numbers game, the Jets have a crowded backfield consisting of starter Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley.
Fortunately for Richardson, he was able to provide some good game-tape for the other 31 teams in this league. Though with the way the running back position is valued in today’s NFL, it’ll be difficult to crack a 53-man roster. But this is what Richardson did the other night in the Jets preseason finale; these stats were provided by Rotowire via ESPN.com.
Richardson (concussion) gained 72 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, adding one reception (one target) for 11 yards, in Thursday’s preseason game against the Eagles.
Next: 14. Jason Babin
Oct 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive end Jason Babin (58) before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
14. Jason Babin
One of the most surprising cuts of the day so far was when the Jets decided to part ways with veteran OLB Jason Babin.
Jason Babin is the first relatively surprising cut by the Jets. Solid veteran. Bodes well for Trevor Reilly now. #nyj
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) September 5, 2015
Babin only had two sacks with the Jets last year but with the injuries to Calvin Pace and Lorenzo Mauldin, the prevailing thought was that the Jets would keep Babin if nothing more than an insurance policy. But you never know in this league anything can happen.
Babin may be the biggest surprise cut so far for the Jets, but the Jets feel inclined to inject youth into their linebacker corps. Babin is a guy who will certainly find work quick, he’s not that far removed from a career-year in 2011 when he racked up 18 sacks. I could see a lot of other teams trying to recapture that lightning in a bottle.
Next: 13. Matt Flynn
Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Matt Flynn (5) drops back to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles defense during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
13. Matt Flynn
In another shocking release, the Jets have decided to part ways with veteran quarterback Matt Flynn.
So it appears the Jets have decided to go with Bryce Petty as their backup behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in an interesting plot twist. Flynn played exceptionally well in the preseason finale, but many thought including myself that Flynn had all but insured his 53-man roster spot with his performance.
All teams in the NFL searching for a solid backup quarterback should give Flynn a call. His career statistics are above-average in terms of what’s out there on the open market and he seems to have a nice command of the offense.
Next: 12. Josh Johnson
Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Josh Johnson (8) scrambles with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
12. Josh Johnson
The Jets have officially shocked the world and perhaps have revealed some very intriguing information at the same time.
With Matt Flynn & Josh Johnson both gone, there’s a growing sense Geno Smith might be healthy & ready to go sooner than initially expected — Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) September 5, 2015
My first thought when I heard that the Jets had released Flynn and Johnson was that they must have a lot of confidence in Petty’s ability to step in if necessary. But to be honest, that made me extremely nervous, but now that Manish Mehta revealed his inside knowledge, it inspires hope and relief that Geno Smith appears to be recovering faster than expected.
The impact of this move is interesting since everyone thought that the Jets would basically hold four quarterbacks: Fitzpatrick, Petty, Smith as he recovers, and one of the veteran quarterbacks they released. Now the dynamic changes: Fitzpatrick, Petty as the No. 2 option until a healthy Smith can come back. Which opens the door for another positional group to get one more player that previously was thought to be taken.
Next: 11. 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
11. Shaq Evans
There are a lot of pros and cons to having a strong and a deep receiving corps, one of the cons is that there are going to be a lot of tough decisions made. The Jets just made an easy one by deciding to release Evans. This was a story about more than a numbers game, quite simply Evans didn’t make enough plays when given the opportunity. Also, Evans infamously will forever be remembered as one of the Idzik-12 from last year’s NFL Draft.
Next: 10. Joe Mays
Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Joe Mays (53) forces a fumble by Atlanta Falcons tight end DJ Tialavea (86) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Falcons 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
10. Joe Mays
One of the things I really liked about the free agency period for the Jets, beyond the splashy signings, were the under-the-radar signings that provided this Jets team with a lot of depth. One of those positions that benefited was the inside linebacker position.
Joe Mays left his former team in the Kansas City Chiefs to make a run at one of the backup spots with the Jets. The starters were already solidified with Demario Davis and David Harris leading the way. But there were some opportunities for one of the several veteran free agents brought in to state their case.
Mays had a $20K signing bonus and $20k roster bonus if on the final roster in Week 1. If anything, even though he had a solid camp, it wasn’t enough to warrant keeping him for the long term.
Next: 9. Stevan Ridley (PUP)
Oct 12, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots trainers attend to running back Stevan Ridley (22) during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. New England beats Buffalo 37 to 22. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
9. Stevan Ridley (PUP)
Stevan Ridley is still recovering and rehabbing from surgery last off season and will spend the first 6 weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.
This makes perfect sense for the Jets, allow Ridley to recover without rushing him because the Jets have impressive depth in the backfield and he won’t count against the 53. A very intelligent decision by the big men upstairs for the Jets as we haven’t seen Ridley all off season as he continues to rehab. The Jets are taking a cautious approach and I don’t blame them, it makes complete sense.
Next: 8. Wes Saxton and Arthur Lynch
Nov 16, 2013; Annapolis, MD, USA; South Alabama Jaguars tight end Wes Saxton (13) attempts to avoid Navy Midshipmen linebacker Chris Johnson (46) following a catch at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
8. Wes Saxton and Arthur Lynch
The Jets trimmed some fat at the tight end position by releasing Saxton and Lynch to get closer to the final-53. In a minimally surprising move with the state of the tight end position for the Jets, I didn’t expect them to cut their positional unit in half.
The Jets also had Arthur Lynch on the roster after claiming him off of waivers from the Miami Dolphins, but he wasn’t able to make a big enough impact to be kept. Both were raw prospects who seemingly had all the physical characteristics you look for, but with the Jets already having Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis, the Jets seemed comfortable with keeping just two tight ends.
Next: 7. Taiwan Jones
Oct 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker Taiwan Jones (34) celebrates defense stop during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-11. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
7. Taiwan Jones
Jones is a thumper and when he went un-drafted in this past year’s NFLdraft in Chicago, I thought I was dreaming. There was no way that he was out there as apparently Todd Bowles felt the same way back in May and this quote was pulled from David Wyatt of Gang Green Nation:
“I was surprised Taiwan Jones from Michigan State wasn’t drafted. He showed some good stuff on film. He’s a thumper. He’s a pretty heady ballplayer coming in and I was kind of happy to have him when I saw him just because I thought he was getting drafted. No knock against the rest of them, but that’s what I saw, he’s one of the guys I looked at.”
Though what has been the story for a lot of these guys on the roster, is the fact that the talent level at some of the openings on the roster is ridiculously high. Like I said I loved Jones coming out of Michigan State, but he wasn’t able to pick up the system quick enough and that affected his playing time which was a major reason he couldn’t separate from the pack.
Next: 6. Keon Lyn
Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Raheem Mostert (48) runs with the ball against New York Jets safety Rontez Miles (45) and corner back Keon Lyn (42) during the third quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
6. Keon Lyn
One of the more fruitful roster positions with the Jets is their defensive secondary and a late addition due to injuries at the position led the Jets to bring in Lyn. But he was brought in as a camp body so Lyn’s departure was more of a formality than anything else.
Lyn did have some nice plays when I did my piece on Jets training camp: EXCLUSIVE: An inside look at New York Jets’ training camp a couple weeks ago. The Jets know that it’s nothing personal but again, in order to field a contending team, you need the best of the best.
Next: 5. Durell Eskridge
Nov 8, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange safety Durell Eskridge (3) tries for a interception in front of Duke Blue Devils wide receiver Max McCaffrey (87) that would fall incomplete during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
5. Durell Eskridge
Another Syracuse alum bites the dust, though this release was a tougher decision than the latter. Eskridge has really made a name for himself since replacing Antonio Allen on the Jets’ roster. His lanky body-frame was a welcome addition to the Jets as he showcased his massive potential throughout camp and certainly made an impact with the coaching staff.
The Jets continued to trim their defensive secondary to ensure they have realistic talent available that can step right in and not miss a beat. Eskridge had potential but again, was missing that extra factor to enable him to be kept and used as quality depth.
Next: 4. Deion Barnes
Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA;New York Jets tackle Brent Qvale (79) and linebacker Deion Barnes (50) block Detroit Lions offensive tackle Corey Robinson (70) during the third quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
4. Deion Barnes
The Jets got rid of one of the elders of the pass rushing group earlier with the Babin release and now they spill some young blood from the position.
The Jets are leaning towards the youth movement at the outside linebacker position, but Barnes’ impact was felt earlier in preseason and he wasn’t able to replicate it. In the Detroit game, he showed a burst similar to another player who shares that jersey number: Justin Houston.
That was the first comparison I made, though a lofty one; he looked the part. But after a fast start and really showing a high motor he became invisible the rest of preseason and it was surely disappointing to the rest of the coaching staff that saw the same potential others did.
Next: 3. Charles Brown
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; The Tennessee Titans defense lines up against the New York Jets offense during the second half at LP Field. The Jets beat the Titans 16-11. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
It seems the Jets made a conscious decision in their final roster maneuvering which included keeping depth at the offensive line position. It led to some players at other positions to suffer, with that being said the only offensive linemen to be released Saturday was Charles Brown.
Brown has made his way around the league since being drafted out of USC and with the Jets he had a chance to be a lead-swing tackle. A do-everything kind of offensive linemen that are crucial in terms of versatility and depth. But things didn’t pan out for Brown although we can’t say the same for the rest of the offensive line outside of Wes Johnson who was released in the first round of cuts.
Next: 2. Chris Owusu
Aug 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu (17) returns the opening kickoff during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
2. Chris Owusu
I talked about certain positional groups that would suffer based on the coaching staff’s ideology and the receiver position is one of those certain positional groups. Chris Owusu is a freak athlete, who all but seemed like he was at least going to be the kick returner for this team this upcoming season.
Then after another impressive game in the preseason finale, like Flynn, he had possibly done enough to warrant a roster spot. This was perhaps the toughest decision for the Jets figuring out who they were going to keep at the bottom of the roster at the receiver position. There’s a chance that Owusu would be brought back but for now at least, the Jets seem set at wide receiver.
Next: 1. Walter Powell
Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Walter Powell (18) runs back a kickoff against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. Walter Powell
Just when I thought the Owusu cut was the most shocking of the day, I see this across my Twitter feed. Especially with the news of the Owusu cut I figured that meant Walter Powell had made it. Like earlier when Flynn got cut first, I figured that Johnson had made it too, but that wasn’t the case.
Powell had the punt return touchdown, a boat-load of above-average kick returns, more so then Saalim Hakim ever did for the Jets that’s for sure. So right now the Jets are without a kick returner after Powell and Owusu got released. Though it appears from the outside looking in, the Jets have gotten weaker on special teams as perhaps the Jets brass have a bigger plan.
Which would make sense and also puts my mind at ease with the fact that the Jets may in fact keep one of them. But hopefully the Jets don’t act too late and lose both of them to other teams in which the Jets would have to really eat that one and explain that to the fan base.