The 2021 NY Jets regular season is nearly upon us. The adage, out with the old and in with the new, takes on added meaning this year. Not only did the Jets completely revamp their coaching staff, but they have one of the youngest rosters in all of football.
The average age of the Jets players is 24-years-old. The nickname 'Gang Green' has never been more fitting than this season.
The team currently has 18 rookies and 29 second and third-year players. Several of the Jets' starters and key contributors in 2021 will be playing in their first and second years in the league. There are only five players on the Jets that are 30 years of age or older.
So while the preseason is seen as evil by most because of potential key injuries, the greenness of the green and white made preseason games a necessary evil.
It will be harder now than ever to pare down the Jets roster because there are so many unproven players to choose from.
New Flexible Roster Rules
A year ago, there were no preseason games. But in 2021, the NFL's new flexible roster rules from a year ago return with some added wrinkles.
The roster rules allow teams to call up two players every week from the practice squad. That's 55 players, not 53. An aspect that most pundits and experts overlook.
There's also another loophole in the rules safeguarding a team's ability to protect and have more players readily available.
NFL teams are allowed to protect four players on their 16-player practice squad every week. So you can stash certain players on the practice squad and not have to worry about losing them to other teams.
You can also elevate an additional practice squad player within 90 minutes before kickoff in the event of a late COVID-19 positive test result.
The workaround gives a team like the Jets the ability to technically have 57 players on their weekly roster. That added wrinkle coupled with the fact that teams can include up to six players on their practice squad who have more than two accrued seasons gives teams more roster protection and flexibility.
The option to have veteran players on the practice squad is a great one, especially at the quarterback position. All it takes is one player testing positive for COVID in the QB room, and it can wipe out your entire game-day options at the position.
See the Denver Broncos situation from last year, where current Jets QB coach Rob Calabrese petitioned himself to be the team's emergency quarterback but to no avail.
There's an additional roster rule that will help teams during the long regular season. Players placed on injured reserve can return after three weeks rather than six as in normal seasons.
There is also the removal of the cap for how many players can be activated from injured reserve. It will be easier for teams to stash and return players on IR than in years past.
So with all the new rules in place and the newness of the Jets roster. Let's try to predict who the team will keep on their regular-season active and practice squad roster.
It's worth noting that the Jets have the second pick in the waiver order and could be active when roster cuts occur. So the players who initially make the final roster could have a temporary stay.
Plus, with all the team's draft capital, you can't rule out Joe Douglas swinging some deals for an edge rusher to replace Carl Lawson or an interior offensive lineman to shore up the team's depth.