The New York Jets said goodbye to quite a few players following the conclusion of the 2017 season. Check out how each of these individuals fared with their new teams in 2018.
The NFL is a world full of extensive roster turnover. Every year, each franchise parts ways with dozens of members of their roster and replaces them with new additions. Such is life in the ever-changing realm of football.
The New York Jets are no exception to this rule and last year was no different either. The Jets said their goodbyes this season to over 20 players that were on their 2017 roster. Some of those players departed in free agency on their own accord while others were released ahead of the 2018 regular season against their will.
The majority of these players saw playing time with different teams in 2018, each to their own varying degree of success. Some went on to find more success after departing from New York while others failed to do much with their new teams.
With that, let’s take a look at each member of the 2017 Jets roster who saw playing time elsewhere in 2018. It should be noted that only players who participated in at least one game for their new team will be included, meaning that the likes of Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart will not be discussed.
Demario Davis – LB
Demario Davis emerged as a playmaker with the Jets in 2017 after returning to the team following a one year stint with the Cleveland Browns. Expectations were, of course, curbed as the team reacquired him in a trade that sent safety Calvin Pryor to Cleveland.
Not exactly a blockbuster deal at the time.
But Davis was able to break out and have a career year with the Jets becoming a force in the middle of the defense as well as an incredible on-field leader. Unfortunately, the team opted to part ways with him in free agency as they decided to go cheaper and younger with the addition of Avery Williamson.
Davis signed a three-year deal to join the New Orleans Saints and wasted no time acquainting himself with his new squad. The former third-round pick totaled a team-leading 110 tackles, 11 of which were for a loss, four pass deflections, five sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles.
Davis was able to take over as one of the leaders of the Saints defense even earning one of the six captain roles on the team in just his first season in New Orleans. While Williamson may be the better and smarter signing long-term, it’s hard to argue that Davis didn’t outperform his counterpart in 2018.
Muhammad Wilkerson – DE
Muhammad Wilkerson‘s time in New York ended in a way few would have expected a few years back. The former Pro Bowler was essentially run of out town after years of minimal effort combined with numerous team violations ultimately led to his departure.
Wilkerson signed on with the Green Bay Packers in the offseason to a one-year “prove it” contract worth just $5 million, a far cry from his five-year, $86 million contract he had signed just three years prior. Unfortunately for Wilkerson, he would never receive much of a chance to “prove it.”
The Temple product suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 of 2018 forcing him to miss nearly all of this past season. It’s not as if he was making much of an impact beforehand, however, as Wilkerson had totaled just five tackles through his first three games with the Packers.
Perhaps Wilkerson will be able to revive his career elsewhere in 2019 as it appears unlikely that the Packers decide to bring him back. At the very least, it will be hard to get any worse than 2018.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE
Much like Wilkerson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins saw his 2018 season cut very short due to an injury, leaving much to be desired with his performance this past year.
The big-bodied tight end played just five games, hauling in 11 grabs for an uninspiring 90 yards. Seferian-Jenkins had a bit of a revival with the Jets in 2017 and it appeared that he may be able to catch on elsewhere after the team opted not to bring him back, but he failed to stick in Jacksonville.
While the injury certainly prohibited him from having the potential impact that he could have had, his production while healthy was nothing to write home about either. Seferian-Jenkins didn’t record a game with more than three catches and his highest total yards in any game was a meager 25.
Perhaps another change of scenery will do him favors in 2019, assuming the Jaguars don’t decide to pick up his second-year option.
Chandler Catanzaro – K
Chandler Catanzaro did a solid job replacing the incumbent Nick Folk for the Jets in 2017. The former Arizona Cardinal rebounded from a poor 2016 season by connecting on 83% of his field goal attempts and making all 29 of his extra point tries.
Despite this, the Jets decided to let him walk in free agency and he signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, once again replacing Folk. When all was set and done it turned out to be the correct decision for the Jets.
Catanzaro struggled mightily in 2018 hitting just 73% of his kicks and missing four extra points on 27 tries during his time with Tampa Bay. His struggles became so bad that the team cut ties with him following a poor game in Week 10.
He later signed on with the Carolina Panthers and looked improved but it’s safe to say that the Jets made the right move going with Jason Myers over the incumbent Catanzaro.
JoJo Natson – KR/PR
JoJo Natson didn’t exactly enjoy a ton of success as a returner for the Jets in 2017. His 20.3 yards per return ranked as one of the lowest in the league and his dreadful 2.4 yards per punt return was one of the worst averages by any player in the history of the NFL.
Natson often tried to do too much with the ball in his hands and his small stature made him prone to going down on first contact. This all still remains true, but he seems to have found more success this year with his new team.
The 5’7″ and 153-pounder was originally signed and released by the Los Angeles Rams following the preseason but was re-signed early in the year after an injury sustained by return man Pharoh Cooper. Natson was used primarily as a punt returner and posted significantly better numbers averaging over 10 yards per attempt.
While fumbles and muffs have been a concern as of late, Natson will now have the opportunity to win a Super Bowl with his new team and is seemingly in a much better situation than he was a year ago today.
Julian Stanford – LB
Julian Stanford spent the last two seasons on the Jets roster as a reserve linebacker and primary special teamer before leaving in free agency to join their division foes.
Stanford signed a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills in March of 2018 and played the whole season with his new team. Much like his time with the Jets, Stanford was used almost exclusively on special teams with the exception of a Week 9 start due to injuries at the linebacker position.
The Wagner product recorded a season-high eight tackles in that game and even forced a fumble in the process. Stanford will look to remain a part of the Bills roster in 2019 and continue to be a key piece on special teams.
Wesley Johnson – C
The Jets 2017 starting center, Wesley Johnson‘s inability to stick with a roster in 2018 likely spoke volumes for how ineffective he was the previous season.
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After Johnson’s atrocious 2017 campaign, the former fifth-round pick signed on with the Detroit Lions but failed to make the final 53-man roster following the conclusion of the preseason. After about a month of unemployment, Johnson was able to catch on with the Miami Dolphins who’s offensive line was thin, to begin with before injuries to most of their starting line
Still, Johnson couldn’t crack the starting lineup with second and third stringers ahead of him. Instead, the former Jets center was relegated to a backup role playing in 10 games but never receiving a single start. Johnson played just 26 total snaps on offense while recording 37 on special teams.
It’s unlikely Johnson remains with the Dolphins in 2019 and given his poor track record and age, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Johnson will find his way on to another regular season roster again. But given the lack of depth along the offensive line in the NFL, never say never.
Jeremy Kerley – WR
Jeremy Kerley returned to the Jets in 2017 due to a sheer lack of depth at the position and was limited in his overall impact. However, the reunion was shortlived as the Jets did not re-up his contract and he swiftly departed through free agency.
The Buffalo Bills picked Kerley up and he was expected to compete for a starting role with the lack of talent in the team’s wide receiver room. However, despite making the 53-man roster and even starting in Week 1, the Bills released Kerley just one week later before he could play in another game for the team.
Kerley hauled in two grabs for seven yards in what could wind up being his final NFL game. There’s still a decent chance that he makes another team’s roster and it’s likely that some team will give him another chance.
But it’s safe to say that Kerley’s best days are behind him.
Bruce Carter – LB
Bruce Carter may not be a name that many Jets fans are familiar with but the veteran linebacker served an important role as a key special teams piece over the 2016 and 2017 seasons before departing in free agency.
Carter signed on with the Atlanta Falcons in September of this year and immediately picked up right where he left off with the Jets. The former Dallas Cowboy totaled 21 tackles, his most since 2015 and played on an astounding 70.1 percent of special teams snaps.
With Atlanta trying to get younger all-around, it’s unlikely that Carter will be back with the team in 2019 despite his special teams value. Carter will be 31-years-old at the start of the 2019 season meaning that age won’t be on his side for him to find his way on to another roster.
Kony Ealy – DE
Kony Ealy was a pleasant surprise for the Jets in the early part of 2017 before disappearing later in the season. With the lack of depth in the pass rush department, it was a little surprising to see the Jets make no effort to bring him back in 2018, although his age may have been a factor.
Ealy had a relatively uneventful 2018 having failed to make the Dallas Cowboys roster out of the preseason leaving him unemployed for a good portion of the season. It wasn’t until the Oakland Raiders gave him a shot late in the season that he finally found his way back on to the field.
In two separate stints with the team, Ealy played in three games totaling two tackles. Perhaps Ealy will be able to find a more permanent home in 2019 but his age and recent lack of production aren’t working in his favor.