With the final preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles looming, the Jets need to take a realistic look at their roster to prepare for their final cuts. Unfortunately, greed is frowned upon in the NFL, and fans will be forced to bid farewell to some talented players a 53-man roster simply cannot accommodate.
It’s a time for tough decisions. Sometimes a veteran needs to be let go, and sometimes a promising prospect is released to accommodate poor depth at a more vulnerable position.
The first person whose job may be at stake is veteran CB, David Barrett. Most fans believed he would have been gone at the start of the offseason, but as the defensive backfield is thin at experience, Barrett has remained.
However, it’s been a very quiet pre-season for Barrett, being lost in Nickel and Dime package duties, and doing next to nothing to separate himself from the youth movement.
Slow first steps and mediocre tackling have led to a negative outlook on David Barrett from most fans. He has performed fairly well in coverage, coming up with crucial picks during his time in New York, but given his cap number and lackluster productivity, David Barrett may find himself out of a job come time for final cuts.
At this point, Hank Poteat should be the front-runner for veteran presence and experience in the Jets’ secondary. And the impressive play of young guys like Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman makes Barrett even more expendable.
The troubled history of Ahmad Carroll will have no bearing when it comes time to make a decision on his future with the team. Through three pre-season games and training camp, Carroll has shown an ability to play hard, but has been fairly inconsistent.
With the toe injury to Justin Miller, Carroll may land a job on the team with a special teams role. Given the potential match ups in different games, he may also be utilized in specific packages, but with the aforementioned youth, Carroll will have some difficulties making the final cut.
Truthfully, it may come down to a decision between Carroll and Barrett. Given David Barrett’s cap number, he may become the odd man out.
In a league dominated by dollars and cents, keeping Barret and his contract will disallow any room for maneuvering if any emergency signings need to be made during the regular season.
The depth at linebacker may also force some fan favorites off the team.
It’d be a total fallacy to discount Marques Murrell as one of the young guys that long time Jets’ fans are rooting for. The baby brother of former Jets’ RB, Adrian Murrell, does have some work to do, but he has looked good when asked to pass rush.
Murrell hasn’t recorded many tackles of his own, but he seems to have a knack for applying pressure. He’s shown good quickness and a strong motor when trying to get to the quarterback. And when plays are blown dead, he always appears to be in the mix somewhere.
But it’s his contributions on special teams that may earn him a spot on the final roster.
Murrell has the misfortune of playing a position the Jets have intentionally stacked up on. Searching high and low for depth with the OLB/DE hybrid has become a Jets’ trend.
Unfortunately for Marques, there is a lot of talent, experience and money invested into players that will land roster spots before him. Among those are Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, David Bowens, and rookie Vernon Gholston.
The wide receiver position has been one of the most intriguing ones for me this off-season. The depth the team has is phenomenal. However, with such a multi-faceted offense, Wallace Wright may be faced with a similar predicament to Marques Murrell.
Being surrounded by so much experienced talent, opportunities for Wallace will be scarce. The injury to David Clowney may buy some more time on the team for Wright, but with Laveraneus Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, and Brad Smith all ahead of him, Wright may have a hard time holding on to a roster spot off special teams ability alone.
If the Jets have more dedication to rookie Marcus Henry, things become even more complicated for Wright’s future.
Fortunately for Wright, there isn’t a better gunner on the punt team. His ability to get down field in a hurry and make Ben Graham’s kicks interesting is phenomenal. But is it enough to warrant the fifth, perhaps sixth, roster spot in the scenario that David Clowney is prepared to return during the regular season?
The competition at running back is also fairly competitive. Jesse Chatman appears to be running away with the third RB honors, making the former Baltimore Raven, Musa Smith, questionable for the final roster. Smith has performed well when splitting duties with Chatman, but he may find himself falling behind on the depth chart on special teams as well.
Jehuu Caulcrick may earn his bones as a backup FB to Tony Richardson. He certainly has the size to warrant a spot on the team. But if he does make the final cut, Caulcrick may find himself inactive for more games than anything. These days backup FB roles go to backup tight ends as well. So with a guy like Jason Pociask showing good hands and after-catch ability, Caulcrick may become expendable.
The status of rookie QB Erik Ainge poses an intriguing dilemma for the New York Jets. Having been drafted in the fifth round, Ainge has fallen far behind Brett Ratliff in the battle for a third QB spot. With no opportunities to throw the ball in any of the pre-season contests, the 6-foot-5 QB will need to have an immaculate performance against Philadelphia to warrant a roster spot.
Fortunately for some of these younger players, life after final cuts is not the end of the world as they know it. New life on the practice squad is a possibility for some of these talented guys on the proverbial bubble. Sadly, however, that also makes them ripe for picking by any team impressed with them.
Never overlook the quality that’s there for the taking, as David Clowney was signed by the Jets off of Green Bay’s practice squad last season. Also, the Giants recently made good with two former RBs on the Jets’ practice squad in Derrick Ward and Danny Ware.
What is certain is that some very talented players may be overlooked in favor of experienced ones. It’s difficult to play the regret game, but it needs to be understood that the release of some players is not so much about their lack of talent, but is contingent upon their ability to contribute to an already talented squad.
It will also be interesting to see which players will be released by other teams that need to make similar decisions. Perhaps a quality safety will become available after final cuts? Mike Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini have made it well-known that player evaluation never ends.