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NY Jets: 1st Cut Day (From 90 to 85)

(Image credit: Charles Wenzelberg /NY Post)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick

In the past week, the New York Jets had to make tough decisions in order to get the roster from 90 players to 85 players due to the league’s rules. Cutting players is the toughest part about preseason is that you can't keep everyone and for some players, this may be their only chance at making an NFL roster. As a result, four players were released and one player was placed on injured reserve and could potentially miss the entire season for the New York Jets.

Let's start with the player that was placed on IR, OL Cameron Clark. This was not a surprise after he suffered a scary injury in training camp where he was motionless for a few minutes. It got super scary that an ambulance was used to take him to the hospital for treatment. Luckily the injury isn't as serious as they thought but he did suffer an injury to his spinal cord. I kept holding off from removing him from making the roster in my weekly 53 man roster projection as I did not know how long he will be out during the 2021 NFL season. Well, the answer was given as Cameron Clark was officially placed on Injured Reserve (IR). Now he is eligible to be activated from IR at any point throughout the season if he gets better. But I would not be shocked if he spent the entire 2021 Season on IR because neck injuries including to the spinal cord are no joke and it would be best if they take his recovery process slow as rushing it could cause more damage.

Let's now take a look at the four players that have been released from the New York Jets.

1. RB Austin Walter - Walter has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. He even had a brief appearance with the XFL’s Dallas Renegades. He was acquired by the New York Jets during the offseason. I believe he was brought in due to the fact that he had experience in Mike LaFleur’s offense and due to his connections, LaFleur wanted to give Austin Walter another shot to make the roster. This cut was not a surprise to me. Walter was mainly going to be a camp player for the team. The preseason game against the New York Giants did not do any favors for Austin Walter. He struggled when he played both on offense and on special teams. In a crowded running back room like the Jets, Walter had to showcase his value with the team. With this move, it is clear that they saw enough of Walter and made the decision to let him go. As a result of this move, there are now 5 active running backs on the New York Jets roster with Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine, and Josh Adams.

2. DT Michael Dwumfour - Dwumfour was signed by the New York Jets after he went undrafted during the 2021 NFL Draft. Now, this was easily the most surprising release out of the bunch. Especially with how well he performed against the Giants as he provided a lot of pressure to the quarterback and even recovered a fumble in the game. He did leave the game due to a calf injury. My question is this: Why would they not place Michael Dwumfour on IR? Why would you let go of a player this early when he had a strong performance as he did. It seems foolish to release him now and what I would have done if the injury was severe was send him immediately to IR. Now the defensive tackle is a talented crowd and he probably would not have made the 53 man roster but my goodness this move makes no sense to me as Dwumfour is eligible to be placed on the team's practice squad. This won't be the last we will see of Dwumfour in the NFL as I will not be surprised if he gets picked up by another team soon if he is healthy. There are now 7 active defensive tackles currently on the Jets roster including Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins, Foley Fatukasi, Jonathan Marshall, Nathan Shepherd, and Tanzel Smart.

3. CB Bennett Jackson - Was taken in the sixth round 187th overall in the 2014 NFL draft by the New York Giants. He spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and then joined the New York Jets. This release wasn't a shock as Bennett Jackson was mainly a special teams player for the Jets. But rewatching the preseason game vs the Giants I barely saw him play, especially in special teams. The Jets were experimenting with Bennett Jackson as a safety a bit in training camp. Obviously, that did not work out well. So the Jets placed him as a cornerback as there weren't many players that had experience at the position. So it was not a surprise that the Jets decided to release him as they were not utilizing him. There are now 11 active cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster including Bless Austin, Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, Javelin Guidry, Justin Hardee, Brandon Echols, Jason Pinnock, Corey Ballentine, Isaiah Dunn, Lamar Jackson, and Zane Lewis

4. K Chris Naggar- After he went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft he decided to sign a deal with the New York Jets. There was clearly an opportunity at a kicking role as the team wasn’t confident with Sam Ficken. When news came out that Sam Ficken was released many including myself thought Chris Naggar had the advantage of winning the kicking job for the Jets. But things were not turning out well as during training camp and recent scrimmages he clearly was struggling with his kicks. In the first preseason game vs the New York Giants, there were a lot of concerns with Naggar. He made a good 30-yard field goal but what concerned me was the 53 yard field goal attempt. As I said in my recap of the Jets vs Giants preseason game, his field goal kick was not even close and was wide left. Nagger didn't have the leg strength to make that kick. He also didn't have the strongest posture when attempting the kick. This is extremely concerning for a kicker and it is not a surprise that Naggar was cut. I am shocked at how quickly he was released from the roster. With Chris Naggar being cut Matt Ammendola is the only active kicker that is available and I am not that confident that Ammendola will be the Week 1 starter as he only kicked one extra point during the New York Giants game. If he performs well vs the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles he could be a lock as the kicker for the Jets Week 1.

It absolutely stinks that these moves had to be done this early. I hope that Austin Walter, Michael Dwumfour, Bennett Jackson, and Chris Nagger all get another opportunity in the NFL.

Update as of August 19th, 2021

Well, the strange tenure of Alex Lewis as a New York Jet has come to an end as he has officially announced his retirement at the age of 29. Alex Lewis was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens where he would spend three seasons with the team until he was traded to the New York Jets for a 7th round draft choice in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Jets easily won that trade as Alex Lewis performed extremely well during the 2019 Season for the team and was rewarded with a three-year 18.6 million dollar contract. Once he signed that contract his tenure with the Jets took an interesting turn in 2020. He was having a good season and all of a sudden former coach Adam Gase made the decision to bench him for an unknown reason. Then a month later the team decided to place him on the non-football injury list thus ending his season. As a result of this bizarre season, Lewis had agreed to take a pay cut to stay with the team during the offseason. During training camp, he was showing a lot of improvement and was a part of the battle to win the job as the starting right guard, and some thought he had a big advantage of actually winning the role. Then came early August where he was surprisingly placed on the exempt/left squad list. The reasoning according to head coach Robert Saleh was that Lewis had more important things than football that he was dealing with. Now we get to today’s date where Alex Lewis has decided to retire from football.

There are three things I want to say about Alex Lewis’s decision to retire. First off I hope everything with Lewis is okay. I want to wish him well and to enjoy retirement as he had a solid career in the NFL. Second, this decision finally gives us an answer to why the Jets decided to put him on the non-football list during the 2020 season. I believe that Lewis was possibly contemplating retirement during the 2020 season and the team decided to give him time off at the end of the season to not only heal up possible minor injuries but for him to mentally think about his future in the sport. Third, the Jets just lost another guard from their team heading into the preseason game vs the Green Bay Packers as Vera-Tucker has been hurt, Cameron Clark and Teton Saltes were placed on IR, and now Alex Lewis has officially announced his retirement from the sport. The biggest question now is who will step up at guard for the Jets?

With this move, the Jets currently have 13 active offensive linemen on the team including Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, George Fant, Dan Feeney, Morgan Moses, Connor McDermott, Greg Van Roten, Chuma Edoga, Grant Hermanns, Tristen Hodge, Corey Levin, David Moore, and James Murray.


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