NY Jets: 3 players that must excel in training camp to save their jobs
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets have a number of players vying for starting spots this summer.
The NY Jets are just days away from kicking off training camp in what promises to be a summer unlike any other before. With the absence of a preseason, players will have limited opportunities to make a positive (or negative) impact this summer.
And those opportunities will come almost exclusively in training camp.
For many players, this will be their only chance to convince the team that they are not only deserving of a roster spot, but of playing time as well.
The Jets will have a number of roster battles to watch this summer and there are a few players who will be feeling the pressure more than others. Those players will need a strong showing this summer to hold on to their jobs.
Whether that’s referring to the roster spot or starting role, the necessary steps are the same. Prove your worth over the next few weeks and you’ll likely earn your keep.
If not, you might find yourself on the bench or looking for a new team by the start of the season.
With that, let’s take a look at three players who will be vying for their jobs in training camp.
Next: 3. Brian Winters
3. Brian Winters, OG, NY Jets
Brian Winters is the longest-tenured member of the Jets’ roster having been with the team since 2013. However, that notion isn’t exactly guaranteed.
Winters will enter training camp embroiled in a position battle with free-agent signing Greg Van Roten. The veteran duo will be competing for the starting right guard role — a role Winters has held for the better part of the last five years.
And on a Jets team that has experienced plenty of roster turnover over that time, that’s pretty impressive.
But the Jets clearly saw an opportunity to upgrade in the offseason given Winters’ injury history and declining play. And Van Roten could provide just that.
The former Carolina Panthers’ guard allowed just one sack in 2019 (two penalties) and posted a very respectable 65.6 Pro Football Focus grade. That’s a better season than Winters has had in years.
However, if Winters can prove he’s healthy again in 2020, there’s a chance he could still come away with the starting job. If not, the Jets might just opt to cut ties rather than retain his $7+ million salary.
Winters is fighting not only for a starting job, but for his roster spot. And he’ll have one training camp to prove to the Jets that he’s deserving of both.
Next: 2. Chuma Edoga
2. Chuma Edoga, OT, NY Jets
From one offensive lineman to another, Chuma Edoga‘s roster spot should be safe this summer. However, the same can’t be said about his starting job.
Much like Winters, Edoga was a part of an abysmal offensive line last season that ranked as a bottom-two unit in the NFL. And in many ways, Edoga was the least effective member of the starting five.
The 2019 third-round pick was given an atrocious 48.9 Pro Football Focus grade which ranked 79th out of 82 qualified offensive tackles. He also surrendered a whopping six sacks and was tagged for six accepted penalties in only eight starts.
Simply put, Edoga was not an NFL-caliber player last season.
The Jets still hope that the young lineman could develop into a quality starter, but they aren’t willing to bet the house on him. That’s why they made the decision to sign veteran George Fant in the offseason as insurance.
Fant very well could enter training camp as the favorite for the right tackle job given how poorly Edoga played last season. That means that the USC product will have to work overtime to convince the Jets that he’s still deserving of a starting job.
If not, the team might just opt to roll into the 2020 season with the more established, experienced Fant anchoring the right side of the offensive line.
Next: 1. Avery Williamson
1. Avery Williamson, LB, NY Jets
Avery Williamson‘s case is very similar to that of Winters — a veteran starter who enters camp not only trying to secure a starting job, but a roster spot given his expendable contract.
Williamson played quite well in his first season with the Jets back in 2018 and looked to form one of the more formidable linebacker duos in the NFL going into last season alongside the newly-signed C.J. Mosley.
Unfortunately, a torn ACL suffered in the third preseason game prevented that from happening. And in his absence, Williamson saw the likes of Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, and James Burgess step up and perform admirably.
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The Jets decided to bring all three of those players back in the offseason as well as sign veteran Patrick Onwuasor to add more competition to an already deep position group.
If healthy, Williamson is most definitely the best option. But his health remains a major concern going into training camp. If Williamson looks slow in the summer, the Jets likely won’t hesitate to cut ties and move on.
The Jets could save $6.5 million by cutting Williamson before the start of the season and given how much depth they have at linebacker, it might be worth it if Williamson doesn’t look like the same player he was before his injury.
Perhaps no player has more to prove in training camp than Avery Williamson.