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NY Jets Monday Mailbag: WR additions, shocking roster cuts, more

Aug 17, 2020, 8:46 AM EDT
NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The NY Jets Monday Mailbag is back and we’ll be discussing possible receiver additions and much more.

The NY Jets Monday Mailbag is back this week. After a long-awaited absence, we have returned just in time for training camp!

The Jets have just finished up their third day of practices with Monday’s being the first in pads. And with less than a month before the start of the regular season, teams are doing their best to prepare their players despite the necessary restrictions.

Thank you to each of you that has submitted a question or even just tuned in to read — your efforts are always greatly appreciated.

Just a brief reminder, if you’d like to submit a question for the mailbag make sure to follow us on Twitter (@TheJetPress) and be on the lookout for a tweet on any given Sunday. We also extend this to our followers on Facebook so be sure to check there as well.

Now let’s move on to this week’s edition.

We received plenty of questions about the Jets’ current wide receiver situation given the recent string of injuries. From that to potential surprise roster cuts to what the future holds for Chris Herndon, I’m stoked to get into this week’s questions.

Let’s jump into it!

NY Jets Questions

“Last year the Jets were absolutely slumped by injuries and health concerns, potentially costing them several games. What have the Jets done to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future? Have any athletic trainers been hired/let go? Can this be prevented at all?” – via @GEQBUS_ on Twitter

This question comes from a few weeks ago, but it’s arguably even more relevant now.

The Jets were absolutely decimated by injuries last season as only Washington had more cap space allocated to the injured reserve by the end of the year.

But people quickly forget that the Jets were actually one of the healthiest teams in 2018. While fans are quick to spread a narrative that the Jets are always more injured than other teams, it’s important to remember that’s the same narrative that every fanbase pushes.

Yes, the Jets were significantly more injured than most teams last season — but it’s not as if that’s a trend.

Regardless, to answer your question, yes the Jets did actually make a change following last year’s injury debacle. They moved on from their head trainer of 15 years, John Mellody, and replaced him with his assistant, Dave Zuffelato.

Will that actually lead to any changes? I’m skeptical that it will.

As for preventing injuries, it’s so difficult in a season like this with such little preparation to avoid injuries. Players are going to get hurt. We’re seeing that on the Jets right now and they’re certainly not alone.

I recently spoke with sports nutritionist Jaclyn Sklaver (cheap plug, I know) and she talked all about the difficulties this offseason presented and how she approached it. She works with guys like Steve McLendon and Folorunso Fatukasi so if you’re interested in the process I’d suggest checking that out.

The only words of optimism I could leave you with are this. The Jets aren’t alone in their training camp injury struggles. This is a leaguewide issue.

“New rules of the Practice Squad? Could 33-year-old shuttle back and forth on the Practice Squad. Hasn’t played a full season in a while, doesn’t play ST, but could be effective in spot duty.” – via @JetOrange59 on Twitter

I assume you’re referring to Chris Hogan here and that’s a very interesting suggestion. The new practice squad rules state that teams are able to promote two players per week to the active roster provided it’s done a day before the game.

Moreover, the league has stepped in and increased the size of the practice squad to 16 players as a result of the pandemic with six of those slots designated for players with any amount of experience.

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Hogan would certainly fit the bill.

That gives teams a ton of flexibility for how they wish to construct their roster any given week. Now, it should be noted that players can only be promoted twice in one season before they revert to the old rules of having to clear waivers before being demoted again.

So in Hogan’s case, the Jets would only be able to do this twice. Still, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on and he makes sense as a prime candidate given, as you said, his limited special-teams experience.

“Could you see the Jets trading for a number 1 wide receiver like JuJu Smith-Schuster with all the injuries at that position and the lack of talent there?” – via @joshW543 on Twitter

Ideally, Joe Douglas has something up his sleeve to prevent the Jets from going into the season with Jeff Smith as a starting wide receiver. But while I wouldn’t count out any more additions, a high-profile trade like that seems very unlikely.

Douglas’ philosophy is simple. He didn’t acquire those draft picks to trade them for players who will be needing a payday. He’s looking to build young and construct a foundation with cheap, affordable contracts.

So while it would be nice to reunite Sam Darnold with his old college buddy in JuJu Smith-Schuster, I can’t see Douglas pulling the trigger. Not to mention the other side of the equation which is why would Pittsburgh — a team attempting to compete in 2020 — trade away their No. 1 wideout?

Perhaps Douglas’ mindset has changed given the uncertain nature of next year’s draft class. But even if it has, convincing the Steelers to part ways with Smith-Schuster seems unlikely.

“Will the Jets sign another veteran WR?” – via @kurtludden19 on Twitter

The Jets already signed their veteran wide receiver in Chris Hogan, but don’t be surprised to see Douglas go out and add someone else.

More from Jets News

The most likely addition is Demaryius Thomas given his experience with both the team and Adam Gase’s offense. Thomas was a fine contributor last year and although he’s limited at this stage of his career, at least he’s a sure thing — you know what you’re getting with DT.

If I had to predict right now, I think Thomas will be back with the Jets sooner or later, but he isn’t the only veteran still on the market.

Guys like Taylor Gabriel or Paul Richardson make a ton of sense given their experience in West Coast offenses. Gabriel, in particular, would be an excellent pickup at this stage and I know there have been rumblings of other teams being interested.

Still, the most likely addition is definitely Thomas and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if that deal gets done.

“Who could be the most shocking cut of camp?” – via @EgresitsJohn on Twitter

Every year there are always one or two players who shockingly get cut. And for around a day or two, fans express their anger and disappointment at the organization only to move on and forget it ever happened shortly after.

Remember Tre McBride? Don’t expect that phenomenon to change this year.

Going into camp, my money was on someone like Blake Cashman surprisingly getting the ax, but C.J. Mosley’s opt-out makes that much less likely. The Jets could still opt to cut either him or James Burgess, but it’s far from a safe bet now.

I think that a guy like Trevon Wesco needs to have a good camp in order to secure a roster spot. Daniel Brown being on the NFI list helps, but I wouldn’t be stunned to see someone like Ross Travis make his case for the final 53-man roster.

Wesco remains the favorite, but he’s someone who could realistically be cut that would surprise everyone.

My hot take, though? I don’t think Nathan Shepherd is guaranteed a roster spot. Yes, he improved a ton last year and flashed his ability as an interior rusher, but he turns 27-years-old in October.

The Jets’ defensive line is deep and if say John Franklin-Myers — someone the team is high on — impresses as a pass-rusher in camp, I wouldn’t be stunned if Shepherd was cut.

That’s not to say it’s likely, but it certainly would surprise a lot of people considering how well he played down the stretch in 2019.

“Can Chris Herndon become a valuable weapon for Sam Darnold? What’s his potential?” – via @StarkLines on Twitter

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It’s been discussed ad nauseam this offseason, but the return of Chris Herndon is instrumental to the offense in many ways. From his pass-game production to his blocking ability, the Jets missed Herndon in a big way last year.

Ryan Griffin was fine, but nothing special. And his struggles as a blocker really limited the Jets’ ground game. Herndon’s return not only gives Darnold another weapon in the passing game, but it should also make Le’Veon Bell’s job easier.

As for his potential, if all goes right, Herndon can jump into the top-10 tight end discussion by the end of the year. While I don’t think he’ll ever be a top-five talent at the position, he’s well-rounded enough to push for the back-end of the top-10.

Ideally, Herndon stays healthy and becomes a reliable No. 2 or 3 option for Darnold in the passing game while also doubling as a very effective blocker. He can be a long-term starter, but he needs to prove that 2019 was a fluke and that he can stay on the field.

NY Jets: 3 wide receivers being given a golden opportunity. Next

Few players are under more pressure to perform in 2020 than Herndon is.

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