The NY Jets have reportedly made the surprising decision to release cornerback Blessuan Austin. As reported by NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the Jets are releasing Austin who was expected to be one of the team's starting cornerbacks this season.
A sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Austin recovered from multiple ACL tears to put together a strong rookie season after missing the first half of the year.
He returned as a starter in 2020, and although he dealt with his fair share of struggles, he still entered the 2021 offseason as a de facto starter.
Austin ran with the starters for most of the summer and seemed to have the No. 2 cornerback job opposite Bryce Hall locked down. That's what makes his release all the more surprising.
The NY Jets' decision to release Blessuan Austin is certainly a surprise
Austin started 10 of 11 games played last season and returned in 2021 having to fend off rookies Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, and Isaiah Dunn for the starting job.
While all three of Echols, Pinnock, and Dunn received reps with the first-team defense this summer, Austin seemed to be the solidified starter. Now, with Austin out of the picture, the Jets will have a decision to make.
Will they start the rookie sixth-round pick, Echols, opposite Hall? Echols was probably the most impressive of the three this summer, but he still seemed like a player who needed some development.
Or the Jets could turn to Dunn, who was received first-team reps as far back as the spring. The Jets signed Dunn as an undrafted free agent this past May and handed him the largest contract ever given to an undrafted cornerback in NFL history.
Evidently, the Jets have high hopes for Dunn. That's why he found his way onto the roster despite his struggles in the preseason.
Still, much like Echols, he feels like someone who shouldn't be asked to start right out of the gate. The same is true for Pinnock who missed time this summer with an injury.
Austin was the Jets' most experienced cornerback with 16 starts under his belt. That's not saying much, but it is bizarre that the Jets would simply cut him.
Garafolo indicated that the Jets attempted to find a trade partner for Austin but were unable to do so.
Perhaps the Jets make another addition at the position in the near future. But for now, this seems like an odd decision.