NY Jets: Explaining why three players were released and then immediately re-signed

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets have re-signed three recently-released players to their active roster.

The NY Jets continued to shuffle their 53-man roster on Sunday as, despite the official announcement of the roster on Saturday, the team was clearly not done making moves the following day.

No, we’re not talking about waiver claims this year. Instead, the Jets re-signed three players to their active roster that they had cut the day prior — offensive lineman Josh Andrews, tight end Daniel Brown, and cornerback Nate Hairston.

To some, this may come as a surprise. It seems odd and downright pointless. Did the Jets just change their minds overnight? Not exactly — there’s actually very sound reasoning behind it.

Teams aren’t allowed to place players with injuries deemed “minor” on the injured reserve prior to cut day without subjecting them to waivers. This is done to prevent teams from stashing a bunch of young players on their injured reserve with essentially non-existent injuries.

The side effect that this has is that teams are unable to place players with legitimate — but not season-ending — injuries on the IR before cut day if they want them to return, which means they take up roster spots.

That was the case with the Jets.

We saw this earlier in the summer when the Miami Dolphins waived their fifth-round pick, Curtis Weaver, with an injury designation. If they placed him on the IR, it would have ended his season, but they wanted him to possibly return.

So instead of wasting a roster spot on an injured player for the rest of camp, they tried to sneak him through waivers. He was ultimately claimed by the Cleveland Browns who subsequently placed him on the season-ending injured reserve two days later without having to waive him.

It’s not often you see a team take a risk like that — especially with a fifth-round rookie. Miami took a chance and it evidently blew up in their face.

Now, at the time of writing, it’s unclear which players the Jets will be adding to the injured reserve. But some of the more likely candidates are linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, offensive tackle Conor McDermott, wide receivers Vyncint and Jeff Smith, and possibly even rookies Cameron Clark or Jabari Zuniga.

All of those players would be eligible to return after just three weeks, as per the NFL’s 2020 rule changes. More so, teams will be able to return an unlimited number of players from the IR this year making it more of a temporary stashing tool as opposed to a last-ditch resort.

If a player is going to be injured for a few weeks, just stash him on the IR for a few games. Expect to see a lot of roster movement this year.

In essence, the Jets were forced to temporarily release a few players — in this case three — so that they could roster their soon-to-be IR players. Once those players are moved to a reserve list, the likes of Andrews, Brown, and Hairston will officially be brought back.

Why did the NY Jets opt to release these specific players?

So why specifically were these players released? The first answer is a very simple one.

Each of the three had accrued at least four NFL seasons classifying them as “veterans.” With that designation, they do not have to be waived and instead are simply released meaning that they are not subject to waivers.

That way, no other team will have the potential to swoop in and pick them up. The Jets likely informed each player that they would only be temporarily released and promised a return.

They wouldn’t be able to do that for a player like, say Bryce Huff, who would be subject to waivers allowing all 31 teams to claim him if they so desired.

The second and perhaps lesser reason would be to possibly reduce their 2020 cap hits. Hairston was set to make over $2 million this season which is more than you’d ideally pay the No. 6 cornerback on your depth chart.

There’s a chance he comes back at a smaller figure. The same goes for Andrews who was due to make over $1 million. Now, around $340k of his deal was guaranteed so he’ll see that money regardless, but maybe Joe Douglas brings him back for less than $1 million.

The main reason was the waiver situation, but don’t disregard Douglas bringing them back at a discounted rate.

Hopefully this clears things up for anyone confused as to why the Jets — or any team for that matter — would release a player only to re-sign him the next day.

Next. NY Jets: 3 takeaways from the initial 15-man practice squad

They didn’t change their minds, they were merely jumping through the NFL’s complex hoops of roster construction.