Four skill player final cuts for the New York Jets to consider

New York Jets

The New York Jets continue to tinker with their roster after setting their original 53. Who could they target amongst the recent departees?

The New York Jets’ unveiling of their 53-man roster has been anything but final.

Joe Douglas and Co. have continued to tinker with the Jets roster as their Sept. 12 opener against the Carolina Panthers looms. New York wasted little time in attacking the waiver wire, primarily focusing on defensive replacements in the wake of several medical absences. Tim Ward came over from Kansas City on the line in hopes of replacing some of Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry’s production. Meanwhile linebacker Quincy Williams joins his brother Quinnen after two seasons in Jacksonville and can hold down the interior linebacker spot while Jarrad Davis heals. Reports have also linked the Jets to former Cleveland safety Sheldrick Redwine, though no official announcement has been made.

The active nature of Jets management suggests the team isn’t done making moves, even as the countdown to Carolina reaches single digits. ESM has compiled a list of final cuts from elsewhere that would improve the Jets’ immediate fortunes in the skill positions for the better. Some have been claimed for practice squads, but are eligible to be added to an active roster.

QB: Garrett Gilbert, Dallas

Gilbert enjoyed a lucrative run as the quarterback for the Orlando Apollos, the class of the short-lived Alliance of American Football. The Buffalo native played his AAF success into backup gigs with Cleveland and Dallas, performing respectably in a single start with the Cowboys while filling in for Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton last season. Dallas opted to go with Cooper Rush and waiver wire addition Will Grier as the backup for Prescott’s return. Gilbert has since been signed to the New England Patriots’ practice squad, where he and Brian Hoyer are the prime candidates to backup Mac Jones.

The Jets’ backup situation has been the subject of much scrutiny: the team opted to go with Mike White (he of a passable preseason but zero NFL regular season pass attempts) as their primary name behind Zach Wilson while keeping the well-traveled Josh Johnson amongst their own practice corps. Obviously, the Jets hope no backup will be necessary this year. Robert Saleh has made it clear that the team wasn’t going to add a veteran backup for the sake of having one on the roster with Wilson. But the Jets should no better than anybody about the importance of a reliable name in the second slot: no green quarterback has started a full season’s worth of games since Ryan Fitzpatrick went all 16 in 2015. Gilbert would a great addition that could fill in in case of a Wilson emergency.

alfred morris, new york giants

RB: Alfred Morris, NY Giants

Frankly, the Jets are very well equipped in their run game and might be better off exploring a trade involving their rushing surplus. Rookie Michael Carter is obviously off-limits but offering Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, or La’Mical Perine to a team in need of rushing (i.e. Jacksonville and/or Baltimore after respectively losing Travis Etienne and J.K. Dobbins to season-ending injuries) is an endeavor worth investigating.

If the Jets were to scour the rushing help from elsewhere, however, Morris (a bit of an early cut, as he was part of the Giants’ initial departures) would a strong candidate to help solve their woes in short-yardage situations. The veteran and three-time 1,000-yard rusher proved to still have some NFL mettle last season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with the Giants (second-best on the team behind Wayne Gallman). New York has tried to address its short rushing game. One such step includes the continuation of the fullback experiment with tight end Trevon Wesco. If they want to go a more traditional route, Morris would be the best option from abroad.

WR: Keke Coutee, Houston

True to their nature, the football gods have thrown another wrench into the Jets’ best-laid opening day plans: reports from this week indicate that Jamison Crowder has tested positive for COVID-19 in an isolated case. Crowder has been the Jets’ most potent and consistent offensive weapon over the last two seasons and has established himself as one of the most reliable slot targets in the league.

On the current roster, this seems like a big opportunity for rookie Elijah Moore to make a name for himself. But if the Jets want to add someone with a little more experience in the short term, Coutee would be the way to go. The experienced slot man was part of Houston’s final cuts but was quickly added to the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad.

A fourth-round selection in 2018, Coutee had a roller-coaster career with the Texans but was capable of athletic plays (including offensive trickery) and making himself open. Coutee’s catch rate of 82.5 percent (33 receptions on 40 targets) was good for ninth in the league amongst qualified receivers.

TE: Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia

The Jets have granted TE1 duties to Tyler Kroft, solidifying the move by trading Chris Herndon to Minnesota. Formerly of Piscataway, Kroft has been a reliable red zone option in Cincinnati and Buffalo but it’s been a while since he held full-time primary tight end duties. Kroft and Wesco were the only tight ends kept amongst the original 53, but the Jets later re-added Daniel Brown and Ryan Griffin.

Speculation has surrounded one tight end from the City of Brotherly Love, as some have implored the Jets to trade for Zach Ertz. Those rumors have been quelled by Ertz himself (who insisted he wishes to retire in Philadelphia) But the Eagles also released a reliable veteran target, one capable of making big plays and is used to an expanded role in the starting lineup.

Rodgers previously worked with another Rodgers…the unrelated Aaron. In fact, Richard (no relation) is the recipient of one of Aaron’s most famous touchdowns (seen above). His career sputtered with consecutive years on injured reserve, but he filled serviceably when both Ertz and Dallas Goedert went down. During a three-game stretch in November (two starts), Rodgers tallied 161 on nine receptions, two of which went for touchdowns (his first since the 2017 season).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: RB Alfred Morris among latest roster cuts

alfred morris, new york giants

The New York Giants will have to continue to trim their roster as they head through the preseason and towards September, and veteran running back Alfred Morris is the most notable player to not make it out of the cut down to 85 players. Morris was one of the players the Giants moved on from during their last set of roster moves to bring their numbers down to the limit, and was released alongside defensive back Chris Milton.

Morris was on the roster since last September but was back and forth between the practice squad and the regular roster. He was one of the players brought in to help after Saquon Barkley’s injury, but didn’t have much in the way of expectations placed on him as he started out on the practice squad and wasn’t placed on the active roster until November.

When Morris did get time on the field, he finished the season with a respectable stat line of 238 yards and one rushing touchdown as well as a receiving touchdown – it earned him a new deal with the Giants at the beginning of August but that ultimately didn’t last very long as Morris was released this week by the team.

The decision likely has to do with the depth the Giants have at the position from other players. They brought on multiple running backs this offseason to support Saquon Barkley in his return, with the primary backup likely being Devontae Booker. Aside from Booker, the Giants drafted Gary Brightwell and brought in Corey Clement as a free agent.

With Barkley returning this season also, the Giants have plenty of depth at the position already and the 32 year old Morris just didn’t fit on the roster. It’s not entirely out of the question for the Giants to sign Morris again to the practice squad later on if he doesn’t find another team at his current age, but for now, the team will continue to focus on new faces as the options behind Barkley.

New York Giants: One underrated running back who could steal an active roster spot

corey clement, new york giants

Despite the New York Giants signing veteran running back Alfred Morris to a contract over the weekend, there’s one underrated RB who could make an impact on the 2021 season.

Former Philadelphia Eagles running back and Super Bowl winner Corey Clement joined the team this off-season on a one-year, $990K deal. Having signed on the Veteran’s Salary Benefit, his contract includes no guaranteed money, so the Giants could theoretically move on from him with no financial implications.

However, Clement offers value as an experienced back who’s deadly out of the backfield as a receiver.

Over the course of his career, Clement has caught 37 passes for 340 yards and two scores, posting an 80.4% catch rate. On the ground, he tallied 655 yards and seven scores, but only earned 21 rushing attempts last season with Philadelphia. He’s two years removed from having a campaign with 200+ rushing yards and 100+ receiving yards.

As a solid receiver, the Giants have the luxury of easing Saquon Barkley back to his normal self, as a team also signed former Las Vegas Raiders RB Devontae Booker. Booker is a solid reserve back who can carry the load in Barkley’s absence, but with Saquon ramping up his rehabilitation and looking near 100%, he could re-join the team in a higher capacity over the next few weeks.

Where can Clement contribute next season?

Clement excels in pass blocking, earning a 66.3 overall grade during the 2018 season when he was in his prime. Two poor performances dragged down his average, but was a quality blocker for his quarterback in pass pro. At 5’10” and 220 pounds, there’s no guarantee he will earn a starting spot on the roster, but he offers value in several categories the Giants could use more talent in. With Dion Lewis walking in free agency, Big Blue needs another receiver out of the backfield, and with Barkley’s struggles as a blocker, Clement can provide a helpful hand.

New York Giants re-sign veteran RB Alfred Morris, Joe Judge talks Saquon Barkley

alfred morris, new york giants

The New York Giants have signed another veteran player to compete during training camp. After signing linebacker Todd Davis and offensive lineman Joe Looney over the weekend, the Giants kick off this week by signing running back Alfred Morris.

New York Giants re-sign Alfred Morris

The Giants have signed Alfred Morris to a one-year deal. Morris is a nine-year NFL veteran who spent the 2020 season with the New York Giants. Last season, the 32-year-old running back averaged 4.3 yards per carry after stepping in to run alongside Wayne Gallman when Saquon Barkley was out.

Alfred Morris is now entering his tenth season in the NFL, making him one of the oldest players on the Giants’ youthful offense. He joins a crowded running back room that features Devontae Booker, Corey Clement, and rookie Gary Brightwell as the backs currently practicing.

Alfred Morris was a solid, reliable runner for the Giants last season. He rushed for 238 yards and one touchdown on 55 carries in nine games last season. Morris also caught one receiving touchdown, the first of his lengthy NFL career.

What this means for Saquon Barkley

According to Joe Judge, this signing doesn’t have to do with Saquon Barkley. According to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, Judge wanted to add depth and said he “loves” the way Morris competes.

Joe Judge added that he has seen “tangible progress” from Saquon Barkley as the superstar running back continues to rehab. He’s not there yet, but sooner than later Saquon will be back at full strength.

The signing of veteran Alfred Morris does not say anything about Saquon Barkley’s injury and it is also not an indictment of any of the other running backs on the roster. Rather, the signing says a lot about how impressed the Giants’ coaching staff was with Alfred Morris last season. He is a hard-working football player with great leadership and a fantastic work ethic. The Giants need as many competitors as they can get during training camp, and Alfred Morris is a great one to have on the practice field.

New York Giants: Will Saquon Barkley’s backups return this season?

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants had a tough time in 2020 at the running back spot. Saquon Barkley went down quickly with an injury, and new signing Devonta Freeman would also end up spending time out injured and ultimately never did much with the team. It took the Giants some time to figure out the running game last year, but they ultimately finished in a better place than they started through the first few weeks.

This season, though, we might not see the same running backs that took most of the snaps this year for the Giants. Wayne Gallman is an unrestricted free agent. So is Alfred Morris, who had the second most rushing yards out of Giants running backs.

Wayne Gallman

2020 was the best year of Wayne Gallman’s career. Going into the season, there were some questions about whether the Giants even needed him. After all, his performance hadn’t been anything exceptional in past seasons and Barkley was starting ahead of him. But then, Barkley went down and everything changed.

With the Giants needing a running back and not finding their man in either Devonta Freeman or Dion Lewis, Gallman stepped up as the option already on the roster. He had 682 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games played – 10 of them being starts. That’s a career high, and it’s thanks to Gallman that Daniel Jones didn’t finish as the team’s lead rusher.

The Giants might be interested in bringing Gallman back, but he’s an unrestricted free agent and looks like one of the most likely Giants to leave. His rookie deal is over and coming off the strongest year of his career, the Giants will have to pay him more to keep him around.

It’s unlikely the Giants have to lean on their backup running backs as heavily again this season, when Barkley returns – it’s hard to see them paying up instead of trusting that Barkley won’t be injured and bringing in a cheaper replacement.

Alfred Morris

Alfred Morris was the second leading Giants running back last season. While he didn’t put up the same kind of numbers Gallman did, he added to the team’s efforts with 238 rushing yards in 9 appearances. He’s also an unrestricted free agent this season.

However, unlike Gallman, it looks like there’s a stronger chance we could see Morris in blue again this season.

Morris played out the season on a one year deal and the Giants had to pay him less than they paid Gallman, with a cap hit of only $352k. He’s an older player that will be 33 this season, but that may not be so much of a problem for the Giants assuming Barkley isn’t injured again.

It’s clear that the Giants are better when they can run the ball often and not put all the pressure on Daniel Jones. And we can expect Barkley to take a lot of those snaps. The Giants need backup running backs to relieve the load, not take it over entirely.

Therefore, with Gallman likely to leave and the Giants having no clear number one backup, it looks like a likely outcome to see them bring back Alfred Morris on another small deal while also potentially bringing in a back through a later draft round or free agency to add to the competition.