It was hard not to crack a smile when NY Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims hauled in his first career touchdown in Sunday's preseason finale. Even if it was only an exhibition game, the excitement on Mims' face said it all.
His teammates were happy for him. The coaching staff was happy for him. Mims looked more confident and comfortable than he has perhaps since his Baylor days. It was a special performance from a player who the Jets once believed would develop into a long-term cornerstone of their offense.
Mims finished with a team-leading seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in what was essentially a half of football. Whether it was Mike White or Chris Streveler at quarterback, Mims looked the part.
Of course, this breakout performance only further clouds Mims' future in New York. On the heels of his recent trade request, what does this game mean in regard to Mims' status with the Jets?
Ultimately, for as heartwarming and gratifying as it may have been, that one performance shouldn't mean much, at least as far as his Jets future is concerned.
A trade is still in the best interest of both Denzel Mims and the NY Jets
Mims undoubtedly has the talent to compete in this league. While it's been a while since we've seen that talent on display, Sunday was a reminder that Mims is more gifted than your typical third-string wide receiver.
He looked like one of the most talented players on the field on Sunday...and that's because he was. Talent has never been the issue with Mims, however. It's all the other things that have caused the Jets' coaching staff to sour on him.
To his credit, Mims has put in the work this offseason to become the player the Jets want him to be. He's tried to expand his versatility on offense. He's been playing special teams. He showed up to OTAs in phenomenal shape.
It's hard to question Mims' work ethic this summer. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter.
The Jets mentally moved on from Mims after last season's disaster. He fell out of favor with the new coaching staff quickly and never quite recovered.
Simply put, Denzel Mims doesn't have a role on the Jets' roster, and one preseason game isn't going to change that.
Mims isn't cracking the top four of the Jets' wide receiver depth chart. He's not going to be active on gamedays over Jeff Smith because he just isn't as reliable of a special teamer. That means Mims is destined to be a healthy scratch every week, barring injury.
Of course, injuries do happen, and the Jets would like to have additional wide receiver depth on the chance the injury bug strikes again. But it's hard to justify rostering a player (especially one who wants out) who expects to be a healthy scratch every game.
Now, the Jets aren't just going to give Mims away for less than they believe he's worth. They've made that abundantly clear. But as a general manager, it's important to know when to sell high on a player.
Mims' trade value may not exactly be at an all-time high, but it's certainly been boosted following his performance on Sunday. If the Jets hold on to Mims and let him waste away on the bottom of the roster all year, it's hard to imagine that his trade value doesn't take a hit.
This isn't to say that the Jets should swap Mims for a seventh-round pick, but if some team comes calling with a fifth-rounder, I'd imagine Joe Douglas would have a very hard time saying no.
Mims doesn't have a future on the Jets' roster. It's a hard pill to swallow for some, especially those who loved him coming out of college, but his skill set just doesn't fit this Jets offense.
There are too many guys ahead of him and too many obstacles to overcome for Mims to ever make a significant impact with the Jets, barring any unforeseen developments.
A Denzel Mims trade is still the best-case scenario for both parties. Sunday's preseason performance simply gave the Jets a bit more leverage in their trade discussions.