The NY Jets have released their leading tackler from a year ago in linebacker James Burgess.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jets released Burgess, who started 10 games for the team last year. That said, he was anything but a starting linebacker going into the year.
Burgess began the year on the practice squad after bouncing around between a few teams including the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.
But following injuries to the majority of the Jets’ linebacker corps, Burgess was promoted to the active roster in late October. He would go on to start all 10 games that he played and, amazingly, lead the team in tackles that year.
A guy who was on the practice squad until late October was the Jets’ leading tackler in 2019. That will forever be a superb trivia fact.
The NY Jets weren’t going to guarantee James Burgess a roster spot in 2020.
Nonetheless, Burgess wasn’t going to be handed anything in 2020 with the Jets’ linebacker position deeper than ever. C.J. Mosley was set to return (although that didn’t happen) alongside Avery Williamson.
The Jets also returned both Neville Hewitt and Blake Cashman who started for a good portion of 2019. Throw in newly-signed veteran Patrick Onwuasor and Burgess likely faced an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster.
Evidently, that proved to be the case.
Burgess missed some time in practice with a back injury and also landed on the COVID-19 list for a brief period of time which may have contributed to his release. Since his return, he had been working with Williamson on the second-team defense.
With Onwuasor expected to be sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury, the thought was that the Jets might opt to keep all five linebackers for the time being. Instead, they’re going to roll with just Hewitt, Cashman, and Williamson for at least the first couple of weeks.
It’s very likely the Jets attempt to stash the 26-year-old Burgess on the practice squad provided he clears waivers first. In fact, that might explain why they attempted to get ahead of the curve and release him a day early.
Look for Burgess’ name to either pop up as a waiver claim or as a member of the Jets’ expanded 16-player practice squad in the coming days — he shouldn’t be out of work for long.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll be a part of the Jets’ Week 1 active roster.