4 NY Jets who could lose their starting jobs in 2024

These four starters could lose their roles to backups in 2024
Jermaine Johnson
Jermaine Johnson / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The depth chart starting off the season is always different from how it finishes, and the 2024 NY Jets will be no different. There are a handful of starters who could see a demotion at some point throughout the season.

Let's explore those players whose positions' could be on the hot seat. We'll use the ESPN 2024 depth chart. They use a base 4-3 defense with four down linemen, two outside linebackers, a middle linebacker, two safeties, and two cornerbacks.

On offense, they have one quarterback, one tight end, one running back, five offensive linemen, and three wide receivers. We won't include a fullback in order to keep it at 11 starters.

Oftentimes the Jets roll with just two linebackers, and on offense there will be a variety of formations that alter how many receivers, tight ends, and runningbacks there will be.

But for the sake of discussion, we will use these parameters. Here are the four starters in danger of losing their spots, in no particular order.

1. Jermaine Johnson, DE, NY Jets

This is a case of someone who in all likelihood, will retain his spot. And even if he doesn't by technicality, Jermaine Johnson should remain a key part of the defense.

Johnson has been a very productive piece for the Jets since being drafted in the first round in 2022. Last season was his first as a full-time starter, and he certainly produced with 55 total tackles and 7.5 sacks.

But there are also high hopes for another former first-round pick in 25-year-old Will McDonald. He disappointed last year, finishing with a measly 14 tackles and three sacks in limited playing time. It sounds crazy to think he would supplant Jermaine Johnson, but it is definitely possible.

While Johnson has been an excellent piece, he is far from a guarantee. It would not be the first time in Jets history that a player got off to a hot start only to disappoint.

He may very well build off last season and become an invaluable piece of the Jets' future plans, but if he has a little bit of a letdown and McDonald can live up to expectations that the Jets had for him coming out of Iowa State last year, it isn't unthinkable that Johnson could take a backseat to the young McDonald.

It's not as if Johnson had an unbelievable rookie season. He didn't start either and finished with fewer sacks than McDonald did last year. It's possible history could repeat itself with McDonald this year. This is more about praise for McDonald than it is a criticism of Johnson.

2. Javon Kinlaw, DT NY Jets

This one is interesting as Javon Kinlaw hasn't actually started any games for the Jets just yet. He was brought in from Robert Saleh's old squad in San Francisco this offseason.

But right now Javon Kinlaw is penciled in as the second starting defensive tackle next to Quinnen Williams. He is making close to $7 million guaranteed this season, despite failing to eclipse 30 tackles since his rookie season back in 2020.

The Jets re-signed Solomon Thomas, signed veteran nose tackle Leki Fotu, and added an intriguing developmental undrafted rookie in Leonard Taylor III. It's possible Kinlaw could lose playing time to those players.

Kinlaw has been far from a star. He's no doubt a solid player, he is no one's version of a game-breaker. The Jets run a heavy rotation with their defensive linemen, so labeling players as "starters" is somewhat meaningless anyway.

Still, Kinlaw is penciled in as a starter in the base defense right now, but that could change over the course of the season. What will make this a challenge is the money the Jets are dolling out for Kinlaw, but if he underwhelms, the Jets have other options.

3. Morgan Moses- NY Jets, RT

Morgan Moses was a welcome offseason addition for sure. He has been a rock-solid veteran starter in the league for a decade now and has experience with the Jets already, having started the 2021 season for them.

After the addition of Moses, the Jets were expected to address the other tackle position in the draft. They addressed the tackle position in the draft, but only after signing future Hall-of-Fame left tackle Tyron Smith in free agency. After that blockbuster deal, they doubled down on the tackle position and drafted Olu Fashanu out of Penn State with the 11th overall pick.

With the veteran Smith, who is apparently already paying dividends on the field, Moses can assume the right tackle spot. But at Moses' advanced age, there is no telling if he will last the season. He missed three games last year due to a shoulder injury and also had to rotate in and out at times to manage his workload.

If Moses deals with similar issues this season, it is entirely possible that we see the rookie get a shot at some snaps. And if he performs well, we may see Moses become one of the most valuable backup offensive linemen in all of football.

4. Chuck Clark, S, NY Jets

Chuck Clark missed all of 2023 with an ACL tear. Despite that, the Jets decided to bring him back for the 2024 season. Before his brutal injury, Clark was a top-notch starting safety for the Baltimore Ravens, finishing 2022 with 101 total tackles.

The Jets obviously hope that Clark will shake off the rust and return to his ways of old in 2024, but they also hope that former third-round pick Ashtyn Davis can step his game up this season too. Davis had been somewhat of a disappointment since joining the team in 2020, but something clicked this past season.

Davis is a fast and athletic safety with the ability to destroy receivers over the middle if they aren't careful. Robert Saleh would like nothing more than to see Davis shape into the safety they thought they were getting when they drafted him. This is his season to prove his worth.

Clark's resume is clearly superior to Davis', but the ACL tear is a big factor in all of this. We really have no idea what version of Chuck Clark we will be seeing in 2024. It is entirely possible that Ashtyn Davis takes the next step, and takes over starting duties at safety alongside Tony Adams.