The New York Jets have to trim their roster down to 53 players by 4:00 p.m. est. on August 31st. Some players may unexpectedly be packing their bags.
Happy cut week! The NFL’s roster deadline is August 31st, and the New York Jets will have to cut 37 players by then. Every year a few surprise names come up among the cuts and often find themselves being scooped on the waiver wire.
Every year, each team has a few cuts that surprise many. Last season, arguably the biggest surprise cut was Tre McBride, who had a very strong preseason and training camp. Some preseason standouts still find themselves packing their bags, and some underperforming veterans wind up hitting the exits as well.
The final preseason game for the green and white is Thursday, August 29 vs the Philadelphia Eagles. While many of the locks to make the roster won’t be playing, it’ll be a final opportunity for some of these players to prove their worth and make their final pitch to stay on the squad.
Which Jets could potentially be on their way out of Florham Park this week? 37 players will be packing their bags. Some will be obvious, and some will be shocking to fans. Here are four players who could possibly be hitting the exits by the end of the week.
Next: Special teams bites the dust
With the 235th pick the New York Jets select P Lachlan Edwards out of Sam Houston State!! pic.twitter.com/eAU3q7BNxV
— UK & Ireland Jets HQ (@UKJetsHQ) April 30, 2016
When Adam Gase was working as the interim general manager, he signed former Dolphins punter Matt Darr. At the time, it seemed like nothing more than a Gase connection and a body to build competition in training camp. Now, with the regular season around the corner, Darr has begun working with the first team and Lachlan Edwards’ job is in jeopardy.
In three years of playing, Darr’s punted 202 footballs, averaging 45.4 yards per punt. This is near identical to Edwards’ numbers, whose averaged 44.6 yards per punt in his three years in New York. Edwards has had a stronger preseason so far, but Darr is still managing to steal some first-team reps as a holder and as a punter.
Net punting average this preseason & rank among the top 30 punters in attempts
Lachlan Edwards: 44.5 (3rd)Matt Darr: 33.1 (29th)
— ᴍɪᴄʜᴀᴇʟ ɴᴀɴɪᴀ (@Michael_Nania) August 25, 2019
Going into this preseason, never would I have thought that we would have a neck and neck punter competition going into Week 4. But, here we are. For months, Edwards has been the clear cut starter. Now, less than a week away from cut days, very few people know who’ll be on the roster in September.
Next: A 2019 Draft Pick
Jachai Polite seemed like a steal in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Many believed he was among the most talented edge rushers in the class. A quiet preseason and training camp later, and his spot on the roster is no longer set in stone.
Polite was drafted by the old Jets regime, which was led by Mike Maccagnan. Maccagnan’s out of town now, and we’ve already seen new GM Joe Douglas get rid of some former Maccagnan draft picks. Derrick Jones was the projected fourth cornerback on their depth chart, and Douglas waived him.
It’s clear Douglas is more than fine with dropping some recent draft selections and rebuilding the roster in his own fashion, which may honestly not be a terrible idea. He did play a key role in building a Super Bowl roster in Philadelphia, something Maccagnan never came anywhere close to in his four-year tenure in New York.
Polite’s done next to nothing to show his worth to the new regime, having an extremely quiet training camp/preseason. He’s the fifth outside linebacker on the Jets’ depth chart, and keeping five guys at edge rusher is a questionable move. Players like Bronson Kaufusi and Harvey Langi have had stronger showings than Polite and could potentially steal his roster spot.
Maccagnan saw something in Polite. His lackluster attitude and the pre-draft process didn’t phase Maccagnan from drafting him in round three. With Maccagnan gone, Polite had to show the new brass why he should be kept around. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done that.
Cutting a third-round pick in his rookie season is a tough move to make. That’s giving up on a prospect incredibly early, and who knows if he may develop into something elsewhere. However, if the Jets really don’t see Polite as a factor in their future plans, there’s no reason to hold themselves hostage just to save the old GM’s reputation. Polite could realistically be packing his bags by the end of the month.
Next: Another Maccagnan third round pick
We could see a serious roster overhaul by Joe Douglas and company sooner than later. The Jets’ third-round pick in 2018, also made by Maccagnan, isn’t safe from the upcoming wave of cuts to come before August 31st.
Nathan Shepherd was an interesting pick by the Jets in round three of last years draft, considering he was a 24 year old coming out of a D2 school, but Maccagnan pulled the trigger anyways. One year later, Shepherd has yet to break out, and his spot on the roster could be in jeopardy.
Currently, Shepherd is listed as a second-team defensive end, but he’s done very little this preseason to keep that spot. In three preseason games he’s only managed to make three tackles, none of them being for a loss. No QB hits, no tackles for loss, just three tackles. Quiet to say the least.
If Shepherd was a 22 or 23-year-old player, this probably isn’t much of a conversation. But, he’s already 25 heading into his second year in the league. He’s running out of developmental years. He has to show something sooner rather than later for his own sake.
If someone shows something against the Eagles that Shepherd doesn’t, Joe Douglas could very well wind up send Shepherd home before the 31st. Similar to Polite’s situation, Douglas may just want to get rid of some of Maccagnan’s lackluster picks early into his tenure in New York.
Next: A 2018 starter
Brandon Copeland was a depth signing in the 2018 offseason who eventually turned into a decent starter for the Jets last season. This offseason contained a turn of events for Copeland and he may not find his way back onto the roster this season.
Copeland was recently suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s PED policy. He won’t count towards the Jets’ 53-man roster until that suspension is up, but they may not bring him back even after the suspension is done with.
Copeland hasn’t had a very strong camp this year and has been taking reps into the fourth quarter during the preseason. That is never a good sign for a veteran leading up to cut days. Frankie Luvu and Harvey Langi have both had stronger preseasons and training camps and may find themselves on the roster over Copeland.
Copeland had a strong season last year, posting career highs just about everywhere. He posted 35 tackles, 5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 3 passes defended. He proved to be among the Jets’ most underrated acquisitions of the 2018 offseason, posting productive numbers in his 10 starts.
Copeland had a career year in 2018 and is still listed as the starter on the Jets’ unofficial depth chart. He’s not a clear goner when his suspension is done in Week 5. However, if another pass rusher steps up in his place, his spot on the roster could be taken.
There is a possibility that all four of these players will make on the roster. There’s also a possibility that none of them will be on it. Every year teams have to make difficult cuts. New GM Joe Douglas is not immune to this and has some decisions to make by August 31st.