(Image credit Brian Fluharty /USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
In the past week, the New York Jets had to make tough decisions in order to get the roster from 80 players to 53 players due to the league’s rules. This as always will be the most difficult part of the preseason as you can't keep every player and some releases will result in players' dreams of making an NFL roster ending. For the 3rd NFL cut day, the New York Jets made the decision to release twenty-seven different players on their current active roster. Let's now take a look at the players that the New York Jets and General Manager Joe Douglas have placed on the PUP list, traded, and released.
Let's start by looking at who is placed on the PUP List (Physically Unable to Perform).
1. DE/EDGE Rusher Kyle Philips
No surprise as Kyle Philips is continuing to deal with an ankle issue that has kept him out during training camp and the entire preseason. He will miss a chunk of the 2021 NFL season as a result. Hopefully, Kyle Philips can get healthier quickly as he was a solid part of the Jets defense during the 2020 season.
Now let's look at who will start with the trade made by the Jets
1. Jets Trade Chris Herndon and a 2022 6th round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2022 4th round pick.
Well it is officially the Chris Herndon tenure has officially ended as the New York Jets traded him and a 6th round choice in 2022 to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a 2022 4th round pick. My initial reaction to this trade is, Good. I'm glad the New York Jets came to their senses and got rid of him. I had high hopes for Herndon after his rookie season and finally thought the Jets had a competent and consistent Tight End. Then the second season came where he was suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and was placed on IR due to a hamstring injury. Then came the third season where there was a lot of hype involving Herndon. Many said if he is healthy he could be a dangerous weapon for the Jets. Oh, he was dangerous alright, to the chances that the New York Jets had when they could come back and win a game. Herndon is the definition of having a lack of consistency and awareness. Herndon last season even had a weekly drop and fumble per game. That is not an exaggeration, he constantly cost the Jets multiple chances to win the game and make an impact on the team. Honestly, he should have been cut after the Denver Broncos Game Week 4. He has been a liability on this team for way too long and has even gotten worse in the latest preseason games. I am just glad the Jets at least got some value for Herndon. The Jets even saved 2.2 million dollars by trading Chris Herndon. The Vikings on the other hand get Tight End depth after Irv Smith suffered a Torn Meniscus. Irv Smith’s injury is going to take him out a chunk of games. This trade is not good news for Tyler Conklin as he was originally going to replace Irv Smith. This trade was mainly a win-win but I think the Jets won this trade as they got some value for Herndon. For the Vikings, I am not sure If it is worth trading a 4th round pick for Herndon. I have provided my grade for the Herndon trade down below.
Grade for Chris Herndon Trade
Now that the trades have been analyzed let's get to the cuts that have been made.
1. QB Josh Johnson - Josh Johnson is one of the most notable journeyman quarterbacks in football history and has played on a total of 16 different teams in 4 different leagues. Including the New York Jets as they had recently signed him in early August. Josh Johnson only played one game against the Philadelphia Eagles, He proved that he still has plenty of football in him as he made solid throws and was very mobile in and out of the pocket. Johnson’s release is very telling. First, it shows that Mike White is healthy now. Second is that in my latest roster prediction I asked the question: What type of experience will the Jets choose for their backup, experience in the game of football with Josh Johnson, or experience in the playbook of Matt Lafleur offensive system with Mike White? It looks like the Jets went with the experience in the playbook. Does this rule out the chance for the Jets to acquire a quarterback on the waiver wire? Absolutely not. Especially as Mike White has never taken a regular-season snap. I would not be surprised if the Jets added a quarterback on their practice squad. As of now though it is clear that the coaching staff has a strong level of confidence with Mike White as the backup.
2. QB James Morgan - James Morgan was selected by the New York Jets during the 2020 NFL Draft in the 4th round 125th overall. What a great move it was to take this guy in the fourth round huh? Even looking back this pick never made any sense to me as the Jets already had Joe Flacco as the backup and had bigger needs to fill other than a quarterback. The Jets needed to take more depth at secondary and wide receivers (it was a draft hyped as one of the best receiver drafts ever). By the way, you want to know what player went a few picks later in the fourth round of the draft. WR Gabriel Davis who has become a key contributor for the Buffalo Bills playoff push last season and could become a player of the future, Great! Morgan’s release was not a shock at all. I knew Morgan’s days with the team were numbered after the Green Bay Packers game as he only threw the ball once in that game and gave all the snaps to Mike White until he suffered a rib injury that took him out of the game. Now he had a strong performance against the Philadelphia Eagles and I think he will be a part of the team's practice squad. But I don't think James Morgan has the consistency or strong accuracy level needed in being a starter in the NFL.
3. RB Josh Adams - Josh Adams signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was added to the Jets practice squad during the 2019 season and was on the active roster during the 2020 season with the Jets. This release was not a surprise as it felt that Adams was the odd man out of the running back core. Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, and Ty Johnson were clearly going to make the roster. A lot of people projected that La’Mical Perine could potentially be cut as he did not play vs the Philadelphia Eagles due to a foot injury. But it is clear that the injury is not as serious as originally thought and even if it was Perine was more consistent than Adams was throughout the preseason as a power back. I knew Adams was not going to make the roster as he had no carries against the Green Bay Packers. He could potentially make the practice squad as he did perform well against the Philadelphia Eagles.
4. WR Lawrence Cager - Cager was signed by the New York Jets after he went undrafted during the 2020 NFL Draft. This one was not a surprise due to how crowded the receiver core is. Cager was impressive vs the Philadelphia Eagles and even scored a touchdown on a fourth down. The problem with Cager has been injuries as he has suffered through constant leg issues throughout his tenure with the New York Jets. His injuries have also led to inconsistent footwork. He didn't record a catch vs Packers and did not impress vs the Giants. Cager was mainly utilized on special teams and did not impress thus leading to the team releasing him.
5. WR Vyncint Smith - Smith was signed by the Houston Texans after he went undrafted during the 2018 NFL Draft where he would spend his entire rookie season with. After getting released during the final cut day in 2019 he was immediately signed to the New York Jets roster. He was on the team for the last two seasons where he spent a chunk of the 2020 season on IR. Let's be real with ourselves. The choice of the last receiver on offense and returner on special teams was going to be either Vyincint Smith or Braxton Berrios. I myself would have gone with Smith as he has added value on offense but Berrios is extremely valuable on special teams even though he is absolutely terrible on offense. I expect Vyincint Smith to bounce back on either the practice squad or on another team's roster.
6. WR DJ Montgomery - DJ Montgomery signed with the Cleveland Browns after he went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent time with the team and showed flashes during the preseason games he played but suffered an injury that took him out for the rest of the season due to injury. Montgomery would later join the New York Jets practice squad during the 2020 season. He was a player I was hyped to see as I was impressed with the film I saw of him playing. Sadly he did not impress me during the Jets recent preseason games on offense. The only thing I remember Montgomery doing on offense was against the New York Giants as he had a 22-yard reception. Montgomery mainly played on the Jets special teams but wasn't impressive on special teams. The receiver room was crowded as well which did not help Montgomery's chances of making the roster. Montgomery being cut was not a surprise at all to me.
7. TE Kenny Yeboah - Yeboah was signed by the New York Jets after he went undrafted during the 2021 NFL Draft. I have been on record stating that the Jets tight end core is easily the worst part of this offense and I had high hopes that Yeboah would make the roster due to the continuous disappointment of Chris Herndon and the uncertainty of how the rest of the Tight End core performed. Yeboah was one of the names that coaches were heavily impressed by during training camp. Which got me excited to see him play in the preseason. He did not perform well vs the Giants and against the Packers. I was starting to question what the coaching staff saw in him in training camp and the hype that came with him. Well, we got that hype during his performance vs the Philadelphia Eagles as he scored two touchdowns including the game-tying touchdown on a Hail Mary throw by James Morgan. That game right there is when I thought he earned himself a spot on the roster. Then I came to the realization that when looking at his preseason performance overall there is still more work to do with Kenny Yeboah. Especially when running smoother routes and with his sloppy footwork. I fully expect him to be a part of the Jets practice squad to develop him and clean up his weaknesses.
8. TE Ryan Griffin - He was selected in the 6th round 201st overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Griffin spent 5 seasons with the Houston Texans where he would get released in 2019 where he would sign a one-year prove it deal with the team. He put in a strong performance during the 2019 season and was later in the middle of the season rewarded with a three-year 10.8 million dollar extension. Ever since signing that contract, the big problem with Ryan Griffin was that he was constantly getting injured. I believe it was two weeks that passed and he would be placed on IR due to an ankle injury. Last season he was dealing with constant injuries as he was placed on the PUP list for that ankle issue, was placed on the Covid 19 list, and has dealt with hamstring issues throughout that season. Those injuries kept coming as he once again dealt with a constant hamstring injury which limited his snaps. The talent is there with Griffin especially as a blocking tight end but due to the constant injuries and the 2 million dollars that they would save for the salary cap, it wasn’t a surprise that the team decided to part ways with the Tight End. I think Ryan Griffin is healthy, he could sign with another team as depth.
9. TE Daniel Brown - He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens after he went undrafted during the 2015 NFL Draft. He would spend a season with the Ravens before the Chicago Bears decided to take a chance on him by claiming him via waivers. He would spend a total of three seasons with the team mainly on special teams and as a blocking tight end. Brown, in 2019 would sign with the New York Jets and spend two seasons with the team. I am not going to say too much as Brown was the odd man out of the Tight End crew. What I will say is that he is a decent blocker and is valuable as a special teams option if any team in the NFL wants to take a chance on him.
10. OL David Moore - Moore went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft and signed with the Carolina Panthers. He was waived a few weeks ago where he was quickly claimed by the New York Jets. When he was brought in by the Jets there was a lot of hype surrounding him as he had shown flashes during the Carolina Panthers training camp. When the news came of his release it was not a surprise due to how crowded the offensive line core is. He was solid against the Philadelphia Eagles and did make nice blocks to give Josh Adams a chance to run for the first down. The problem with Moore was he was not the best pass blocker. Moore also was not smooth with his footwork and lacked the ability to Combat Inside Move. He does have potential and it would not be a surprise if he was placed on the practice squad.
11. OL Corey Levin - He was selected in the 6th round 217th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by Tennessee Titans and spent two seasons with the team. During the 2019 season, he spent time with both the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. He was also a part of the New England Patriots practice squad during the 2020 season. During the offseason, the Jets decided to sign Levin to a contract. This release was not a shock to me, especially as Corey Levin was one of the worst linemen on the team who struggled in every preseason game. He normally played at guard and struggled to make an impact opening holes in the line of scrimmage. He has poor footwork when he is pulling to make blocks out in space and was sloppy with his hand usage. So the Jets tried to see how Levin does at center. Which Is a smart idea to see who will be the best backup if Connor McGovern was to get hurt as that was a big question mark entering training camp. Levin did not impress as a center. He is not the best snapper as he under and over snapped the football. The team tried with Levin and he did not perform well so it was not a surprise that the Jets decided to cut him.
12. OL James Murray - Murray was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs after going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft where he would spend two seasons with the team. He was originally a part of the XFL with the St. Louis Battlehawks but the Jets signed him to their team at the end of the 2019 season. Murray being cut is not a surprise as he struggled on pass blocking and was inconsistent with run blocking. The biggest problem with Murray is that he is not the strongest when pulling and trapping to make blocks in space. Which is important for a guard to do to block during screens and for running plays. Murray also was sloppy with his hand usage and needs to improve his movement through the line of scrimmage as well. I can see Murray resurfacing on a different team's practice squad.
13. OL Isaiah Williams - Williams was signed by the Washington Redskins after going undrafted during the 2016 NFL Draft. Williams has mainly been a journeyman offensive lineman; he has spent time with 10 teams in three different leagues (AAF, XFL, NFL). Williams was recently signed by the New York Jets in late August. I was not shocked that the team decided not to keep him as he was mainly a camp body for the team. I believe that he was mainly signed to prevent other players from getting hurt against the Philadelphia Eagles. Especially with Mekhi Becton’s concussion he suffered, Williams was put in a rotational role for Morgan Moses and George Fant who were both battling for the starting tackle position. Williams' role was to give both players a breather when they needed it. Williams was not impressive during the snaps that he was given vs the Eagles. It was not a surprise that Williams did not make the roster as he was a late addition to the team and was only utilized in order to prevent other offensive linemen from getting hurt.
14. OL Grant Hermanns - Hermanns was signed by the New York Jets after going undrafted during the 2021 NFL Draft. Hermanns release was not surprising due to the depth of tackles that the Jets have on the roster. I absolutely see his name being a part of the team's practice squad as he did show flashes throughout the season as a solid pass blocker. In fact, I don't think he even let the QB get pressured once or allowed a sack. What Hermanns needs to work on is being a run blocker as there were times where he struggled to make a key block during toss plays and is sloppy pulling and trapping on screen plays. Like I said the talent is there for him to improve as look at how he blocked during Jets Sweeps when Jeff Smith was running the football. The Jets absolutely need to put Hermanns on their practice squad to continue to develop him and clean up his weaknesses.
15. DT Tanzel Smart - Smart was taken in the 6th round 189th overall by the Los Angeles Rams where he would spend three seasons with the team. He was on and off the Buffalo Bills team during the 2020 preseason and was a part of the Cleveland Browns practice squad. The Jets would then claim him once he was released from the Browns and did play a few regular-season games for the Jets. Smart’s release should not be surprising to anyone, due to how crowded the defensive tackle depth is on the Jets. The Jets have Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, John Franklin-Myers, Foley Fatukasi, Jonathan Marshall, and Nathan Shepherd. That is a ton of talent to have at the defensive tackle position. Smart was also extremely inconsistent for the team and did not impress me in the preseason. He was a solid run stopper but was not strong providing pressure to the quarterback.
16. DE/EDGE Rusher Ronald Blair - Blair was taken in the 5th round 142nd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers until he was at the end of the 2020 season. The Jets during Free Agency signed Ronald Blair to the New York Jets. This release surprised me especially with the connections that he had with the team. Especially with head coach Robert Saleh as he has experience in his defensive system during their tenure with the 49ers. I thought that alone should have secured him a spot with the roster. What this release tells me is that Blair is still not healthy as he missed a few preseason games due to injury and was not impressive during the Eagles game.
17. DE/ EDGE Rusher Jeremiah Valoaga - Valoaga went undrafted during the 2017 NFL Draft with the Detroit Lions. He spent time with the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, and Las Vegas Raiders during the 2019 season. The Jets decided to give Valoaga a chance by signing him in late July. Not a big surprise this move was made especially after the Jets acquired Shaq Lawson via trade. Once that move was made I knew Valoaga’s time was over. Valoaga was solid during his time with the Jets and showed flashes as a pass rusher and can contribute as a run stopper. The problem was that he lacked awareness and needed to be a little more consistent when on the field as there were many times where he was dominated and pancaked by an offensive lineman. I can see Valoaga potentially being a part of the Jets practice squad as he has experience in Saleh’s system during his time with the 49ers
18. DE/ EDGE Rusher Hamilcar Rashed Jr - Now we get to the release that both confused and frustrated me the most. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. was signed after he surprisingly went undrafted during the 2021 NFL Draft. I was heavily impressed with how well Hamilcar Rashed Jr. played throughout the preseason. He showcased how well of a pass rusher he was, often providing pressure to the quarterback especially when against the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. He had solid pass-rushing techniques and has the posture you want in a defensive end/EDGE Rusher. Rashed also had an impact on stopping the run making key stops on third down. When I found out that the team decided to not include him on the 53 man roster I was absolutely stunned. Rashed Jr. was one of the most consistent DE/EDGE Rushers on this team. I wonder if the Shaq Lawson trade hurt his position on the team, If it was me I would have absolutely had him at least being the backup behind him. Hamilcar Rashed clearly showcased more value to this team than Jabari Zuniga did in the preseason. I hope that the Jets can get Rashed Jr. to the practice squad but I believe another team will sign him to their 53 man roster.
19. LB Aaron Adeoye - Adeoye went undrafted during the 2016 NFL Draft where no NFL team signed him. He was a part of the CIF (Champions Indoor Football League) Salina Liberty, The Spring League, and the AAF’s Birmingham Iron. He finally got an opportunity with the Baltimore Ravens where he spent two seasons with the organization. The Jets recently signed him after the season-ending Achilles injury that occurred to Carl Lawson. Not a surprise that he was released as I saw Adeoye as mainly being a camp player who would mainly take snaps to prevent more injuries to starting defensive players mainly at Linebacker. Adeoye did not impress with his performance vs the Philadelphia Eagles thus resulting in the Jets releasing him.
20. LB Noah Dawkins - Dawkins was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals after going undrafted during the 2019 NFL Draft. This one was kind of surprising as I thought he would be the backup until Jarrad Davis was fully healthy from his injuries. Looking at his play on the field there is a lot I like about Dawkins like his awareness and field vision when reading plays by the offensive. But there are more issues with Dawkins, like with him being consistent and not being the best in coverage. Dawkins has to improve with his hands as there were multiple opportunities where he could have had an interception and score a touchdown for the team but unfortunately dropped the football. I can see Dawkins being a part of the team's practice squad or returning to the team if the Jets suffer through more injuries.
21. LB Camilo Eifler - Eifler was signed by the New York Jets after going undrafted during the 2021 NFL Draft. Camilo Eifler was not a surprise as he did not perform as well as Blake Cashman did during the Philadelphia Eagles game. A big issue with Eifler is he commits penalties during the worst times. Like for example Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith both had nice returns but those plays were wiped off the books as Eifeler committed two big penalties which set the team back then where they should have begun. I got to say Camilo shines when blitzing as he has provided a ton of pressure to the quarterback and even made some tremendous tackles. He is a solid tackler as well and plays with a high level of toughness.
22. LB Del’Shawn Phillips - Philips was signed by the Atlanta Falcons after going undrafted during the 2019 NFL Draft. Philips was waived at the end of the 2019 preseason but was signed by the Buffalo Bills on their practice squad. He would stay with the team during the 2020 season but suffered two big injuries that placed him on IR. The Jets during free agency decided to give Philips another opportunity to prove himself. This was not a surprise cut at all as he did not impress with the team at all vs the Eagles. Once again he dealt with an injury and didn't play against the Packers and had minimal snaps against the New York Giants. That is the biggest issue with Philips is the durability concerns as he cant stay healthy. He does have a connection with Jeff Ulbrich during their tenure with the Falcons. Ulbrich at the time was the Falcons Linebacker coach at the time. I can see Philips making the team's practice squad because of his connection with Ulbrich but I question whether he can conquer the durability concerns that surround him.
23. CB Lamar Jackson - Jackson was signed by the New York Jets after he went undrafted during the 2020 NFL Draft. This was a release that did not shock me at all. Even though Jackson is a strong tackler and is solid with his footwork. Jackson also has solid hands as he did catch an interception at the end of the Green Bay Packers game. It was clear throughout his time with the team he has struggled in one on one coverage. He can't handle the duties as a cornerback without help from others. To be honest I'm shocked the Jets kept him after his performance against the Las Vegas Raiders where he let Henry Ruggs score the game-winning touchdown last season. Lamar Jackson could potentially make the Jets practice squad.
24. S JT Hassell - Hassell was signed by the Cleveland Browns after he went undrafted during the 2019 NFL Draft. He played in four games with the Browns but was released later in the season. He later spent time with the Patriots but was released. Hassell would not be a free agent for long as a few days later, the Jets picked him up to play the final few games of the season where he made a tremendous impact vs the LA Rams where he blocked a punt. He would later sign an extension with the Jets for the 2021 season. This release surprised me when it came out as he has shown flashes. Look at his performances vs the Packers he showcased his strengths as a strong tackler and forced a fumble in the game. Hassell even shined as a pass rusher. He provided pressure to the quarterback and had a few sacks. He could be a little better with his consistency when covering receivers. I think the play that lowered his chances of making the roster was against the Philadelphia Eagles where Boston Scott juked him and stiff-armed him to score a 49-yard receiving touchdown. What also lowered his chance of making the roster was Ashtyn Davis being activated from the PUP list. I hope the Jets bring him onto the practice squad but it would not be a surprise if a team decides to sign him.
25. S Elijah Campbell - Campbell was signed by the Cleveland Browns after he went undrafted during the 2018 NFL Draft. He did not play a regular-season game as he was released during the preseason. Campbell would spend time with the AAF’s Birmingham Iron and XFL’s DC Defenders. The Jets would sign Campbell to the team's practice squad during the 2020 NFL season. This was not a surprise at all that Campbell was cut. The play that absolutely destroyed any chance of him making the 53 man roster was against the Philadelphia Eagles where he and Isaiah Dunn were covering J.J. Arcega Whiteside. During the play, both were poor in coverage as JJ was wide open and caught the ball. To make it worse Campbell had the opportunity to tackle JJ did not hit him hard and did a terrible job wrapping his arms around him. That was the moment his time with the Jets was coming to an end. His release today was just the paperwork.
26. S Sharrod Neasman - Neasman was signed by the Atlanta Falcons after going undrafted during the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent two seasons with the team. Neasman had a brief tenure with the New Orleans during the 2018 season but was released during final cuts. He reunited with the Falcons soon after and spent three more seasons with the team. The Jets then signed him during the offseason. This release surprised me a little more than the JT Hassell release. Especially with the connections, Neasman has with Jets Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich during their tenures with the Atlanta Falcons. Neasman was also performing well in the preseason too. He was a strong tackler, solid in coverage, and was extremely valuable in special teams. I definitely believe that Ashtyn Davis being activated from the PUP list did not help with Neasman’s chances of making the roster. I do think he will likely be a part of the Jets practice squad but I would not be surprised if he joins an active roster as a part of their special teams.
27. S Bennett Jackson - He 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. His cut came earlier than the others in order for there to be a spot for DE/EDGE Rusher Shaq Lawson on the active roster after acquiring him via trade from the Houston Texans. Honestly, this was not a surprise as Jackson was originally cut via the 1st cut day and was only brought back due to injuries at the safety to Ashtyn Davis and Zane Lewis. They tried Jackson at corner during training camp and did not do well so they gave him a shot to impress as a safety. He did not impress at all with his second shot with the New York Jets. He was also going to be a player where he would be taking the majority of the snaps in the last game vs the Eagles so that week 1 starters Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner can remain healthy and not suffer a serious injury.
Like Robert Saleh said, making cuts is one of the most difficult parts of the preseason. I wish Josh Johnson, James Morgan, Josh Adams, Vyncint Smith, Lawrence Cager, DJ Montgomery, Ryan Griffin, Kenny Yeboah, Daniel Brown, David Moore, James Murray, Isaiah Williams, Grant Hermanns, Tanzel Smart, Ronald Blair, Hamilcar Rashed Jr, Jeremiah Valoaga, Aaron Adeoye, Del’Shawn Phillips, Noah Dawkins, Camilo Eifler, Lamar Jackson, JT Hassell, Bennett Jackson, Elijah Campbell, and Sharrod Neasman all get another opportunity in the NFL.