Now that the NFL season has come to an end, it will not be much longer until the new league year begins in March. The NY Jets are already coming off of a hot start to 2021.
Adam Gase was fired on Black Monday and replaced with the best head coaching prospect New York has seen in years in former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Not to mention the fact that they are currently a strong contender in the race for Deshaun Watson. After a decade of futility for the Jets, it seems that their luck is finally beginning to turn around.
However, no matter how much New York has going for them for the time being, they are still a roster full of holes. Already with a ton of money to play with in free agency, the Jets could see themselves freeing up a bunch of cash to throw at available players.
In order to do that, Joe Douglas would need to part ways with a few heads on the current roster that are not worth their contract price, or are simply too much of a liability to keep their spot. With their 2-14 record, the Jets should be looking to upgrade anywhere they can.
Moving on from players that fail to produce, or simply eat up too much cap space, is something that should be done as soon as possible.
Unfortunately for the Jets, there are a few players on the current roster that may have already played their last game for the team. Here are three players on the Jets roster that should be cut before free agency.
Next: 3. A starting offensive lineman
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
3. The NY Jets should cut Greg Van Roten
Part of Joe Douglas’ vision for 2020 was revamping an offensive line to help protect Sam Darnold and hopefully aid in his development. With the second pick and the draft and talks of a rumored trade with Darnold looming, it is safe to say he wasn’t entirely successful.
One of the players that Douglas brought in from free agency last year was veteran guard Greg Van Roten. Unfortunately for Van Roten and the team themselves, the offensive line did not improve much.
Be it by scheming or performance, Mehki Becton and Connor McGovern may find themselves as the only returning faces of the offensive line, possibly George Fant as well.
For Van Roten, his season was brought to an end after 13 straight starts for the Jets in 2020. Van Roten, unfortunately, remains a member of the team at a position that is primed for an upgrade.
With free agency and a stacked offensive line draft on the horizon, Van Roten may find himself without a home at the start of the league year.
Should the Jets cut Van Roten, there is no dead money on his contract, and would instantly clear close to $3.5 million to this year’s cap.
The Jets are not looking to coast any longer. The team wants to compete again, and you don’t win in the playoffs with rosters that are “just good enough”.
Though Van Roten would likely wish to stay in New York, it’s quite possible he’ll be wearing another uniform come August.
Next: 2. Another starting offensive lineman
2. The NY Jets should cut Alex Lewis
Alex Lewis is a strange case. The Jets traded a late-round pick for Lewis in 2019 and felt he performed well enough to earn an extension to move forward as a starter on the offensive line.
However, now after his second season with the team, and a strange event where he was sidelined for non-injury related reasons, Lewis could and should be given his walking papers before the league year begins.
The Jets boasted solid tackles, but a weak interior line that could hardly help the run or protect their quarterback. With free agents like Joe Thuney available that would be an immediate upgrade at the position, Lewis’ return is seeming less likely by the minute.
With less than $2 million in dead cap being the penalty for an early exit from New York, the Jets would be saving over $6 million per year by cutting ties with the former Baltimore guard.
It was quite evident early on that Douglas was aware of how much of a liability the Jets offensive line was and still is, and he’s still doing his best to build protection for whoever is playing quarterback next season.
Moving on from Lewis seems less like a possibility, and more like an inevitability. Lewis improved his play, most notably in his availability starting nine games before finding himself on the non-football injury list.
Still, the Jets’ offense was anemic, and the interior offensive line could not have been more of a weak spot.
It would be more of a shock if Lewis plays for New York in 2021 than if he doesn’t.
Next: 1. A growing headache
1. The NY Jets should cut Henry Anderson
It seems like it was only yesterday that Henry Anderson had played well enough to earn himself a three-year, $25 million salary under Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan. Sadly, those days are long gone. As is Anderson’s ability to get to the quarterback.
Back in 2018, Henry Anderson looked like he had the potential to be the pass-rusher the Jets had been searching for. Totaling seven sacks and 16 quarterback hits, Anderson was getting pressure on the quarterback.
But by 2021, he had garnered a reputation for hitting the quarterback in a different way. Anderson has been seen as a dirty player in the league, and a ton of drives that may have ended sooner lived on because of a late hit.
Anderson was fined in 2019 for a hit on Josh Allen, and to this day, it seems he had yet to learn his lesson. Responsible for only half a sack in 2020, it may be safe to say that Anderson is not worth the $8 million due to him this upcoming season.
The Jets have been in need of a pass rusher for well over a decade. Fans were excited when Anderson neared a 10 sack season in 2018, but are likely disgusted by the amount of money he has made for a grand total of 1.5 sacks since then.
There is a potential that Anderson returns to his glory should he remain on the roster and under Robert Saleh’s control. However, it is almost guaranteed that he’ll be on the chopping block the second roster moves are being made.
Set to make $9 million in 2021, Anderson might be the first player come the new league year to call himself a “former Jet”. The 30-year-old defensive lineman only has a dead cap hit of roughly $1.3 million, making him a prime candidate to be shown the door by the new regime.
The Jets are turning a corner. They will need to build the best roster if they want to keep pace with the Buffalo Bills Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and other powerhouses in the AFC. Putting money in the right places is a good lesson to learn along the way.
Wherever these players find themselves come next season, it’s safe to say we wish them the best.