New York Jets announce the release of six players

In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, the New York Jets released six veteran players from their roster on Friday.

The New York Jets announced the release of the following veteran players on Friday morning:

CB Kyron Brown-Brown signed as an undrafted free agent out of Akron after the 2019 draft but spent all of last season on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a quad injury. He partook in three games in green, including one starts, all during the 2019 campaign.

TE Connor Davis-A Stony Brook alum, Davis didn’t partake in any Jets regular seasons games with the Jets but had previous professional experience in the AAF (Birmingham Iron) and XFL (St. Louis BattleHawks.

WR Josh Doctson-The former first round pick out of TCU signed with the Jets last season after four years between Washington and Minnesota but opted out of the 2020 season.

C Leo Koloamatangi-Another 2020 opt-out, Koomatangi had been on and off the Jets’ active roster but did not appear in any regular season games. He previously spent time on Detroit’s practice squad, entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii.

K Chase McLaughlin-It appears the Jets’ kicking competition will come down to incumbent Sam Ficken and undrafted free agent Chris Naggar from Southern Methodist. McLaughlin, who appeared on the roster of six other teams before his New York arrival, converted two extra points in the Jets’ season finale in New England.

WR Jaleel Scott-A former fourth-round pick in Baltimore, Scott was added to the Jets’ practice squad after he was part of the Ravens’ final round of camp cuts. He appeared in one game with New York last season, earning a 16-yard reception in the Jets’ December loss to Seattle.

In addition to the cuts, the Jets also place safety Saquan Hampton on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Hampton joined the Jets in December and partook in a single game, during which he ruptured his Achilles tendon. The Hamilton, NJ native was a sixth-round pick in New Orleans during the 2019 selections.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

The New York Jets must fix their kicking situation now

The New York Jets have been through six different legs since Jason Myers absconded to Seattle. The next one must last.

Even with a decent free agency haul, the New York Jets still have holes to fill with the NFL Draft looming large. Contending in a crowded AFC…one whose East division likely belongs to Buffalo for the time being and one packed with established contenders…might be difficult anyway even if all those needs are satisfied.

The Jets’ first choice, second only to Jacksonville on April 29, will undoubtedly be used on a quarterback, many presuming the choice to be BYU’s Zach Wilson. Afterward, however, there’s a lot of flexibility, especially with nine further picks in a surplus gained through trading Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Sam Darnold, and Jordan Willis. The Jets can thus upgrade areas of major need, such as the gaps in their blocking and secondary.

But there’s one underrated area where the Jets are in desperate need of help: their kicking game.

One could be excused in overlooking the current situation. The Jets, losers of ten games decided by at least two possessions, didn’t drop any games because of a missed kick, after all. But having a reliable leg at this point of the franchise timeline is supremely vital.

For one thing, having this much turnover in a position that often takes up a single slot on the gameday depth chart is troubling. Since 2019 Pro Bowl nominee Jason Myers absconded to Seattle, the Jets have gone through a disturbingly jaw-dropping six kickers, including those who appeared only in preseason games. But the biggest reason why the Jets need to settle this is the sake of their offense.

In a modern NFL that worships a fantasy football deity, the Jets have lagged behind. In the highest-scoring season in NFL history (teams averaged 24.8 points per game, breaking a record set in 1948), the Jets ranked dead-last at an average of 15.2. New York was also dead-last in another vital category: only 16 of their (again, league-low) 38 visits to the red zone ended in a touchdown.

Time will only tell if the Jets will be able to raise any of those numbers this season. But, even with the potential of Wilson (or another rookie party like Justin Fields), there’s no doubt it’ll be tough to build on it with a freshman thrower in tow. But this year of building must end with an offense full of confidence as they try to end this perpetual rebuild. The perfect way to build that poise and assertiveness is by ensuring that drives that end within the opponents’ 20-yard-line yield points. When you’re a team that has had issues…and might continue to have issues…getting balls in the end zone, a good kicker is a must.

Right now, it’s debatable as to whether the Jets have that. They have two kickers on the roster, the most recent pair of the aforementioned six. A competition is all but assured to assume once training camp commences this summer. Each one returns from last year’s roster, with Sam Ficken, the two-year incumbent, coming back on a future/reserve contract and Chase McLaughlin being retained from the Week 17 trip to New England, meaningless if not for being the final stand of Adam Gase.

Both Ficken and McLaughlin could stick around in the NFL for a while. Ficken has floated around in gameday rosters since 2015, while McLaughlin has racked up frequent flier miles as an injury replacement since entering the league four years later. Though McLaughlin has a minuscule sample size (converting two extra point attempts in the aforementioned futile Foxboro visit), Ficken established a new career-high by converting just over 86 percent of triples (13-of-15). The Penn State alum well could’ve been the Jets’ long-term solution, but a groin injury sustained in November could prove concerning.

What the Jets need right now is a reliable, proven leg, one where fans don’t have to hold their breath as long when his name is called. It’s probably too late to turn to free agency to solve that problem. The most reliable available name, Ryan Succop, re-upped with the defending champions while veteran Matt Prater moved from Detroit to Arizona. What’s left is a group of names past their prime (Dan Bailey/Stephen Gostkowski) or inconsistent (Brett Maher/Zane Gonzalez).

Thus, the means toward a solution may come from an unusual source: the NFL Draft.

It’s true that the Jets could probably scour the undrafted free agent wire to add to the special teams festivities at camp. Four of the five most accurate kickers last season (the exception being Mason Crosby) were, after all, UDFA finds. But the Jets need to be confident in the name they have going forward, unlike the 2019 season. The team scooped up former Minnesota preseason hero Kaare Vedvik mere days before their season opener against Buffalo. Vedvik lasted just one game in green, missing an extra point and a field goal, the indirect difference in a 17-16 loss to the Bills.

In this era, the Jets need a proven name that has succeeded at a high level of football, and this year’s selection pool has some strong names to work with. Reigning Lou Groza Award winner Jose Borregales perhaps headlines the class out of Miami, while his fellow finalist Evan McPherson hails from Florida. Senior Bowl standout Riley Patterson from Memphis could also hear his name called during the four-round, final day process on May 1.

Drafting a kicker often gains your team only postmortem mockery in the immediate aftermath. Tampa Bay’s aforementioned Super Bowl triumph may only now finally end the Roberto Aguayo jokes after they chose the Florida State booter in the second round in 2016. The Jets themselves endured some of this the last time they opted for a leg in the draft, shockingly choosing Mike Nugent with their second-round choice (47th overall) in 2005 (passing on future Pro Bowlers like Nick Collins, Vincent Jackson, and Frank Gore).

This time around, though, the Jets can afford such a risk. That’s part of the gifts that come with ten draft picks, a surplus gained through trading several franchise staples. Quantity, as the Jets found out through John Idzik’s doomed dozen in 2014, doesn’t always equal quality, so they have to make the most of the extras granted to them. Drafting a kicker might be a great way to do that. There’s obviously no need to go the Nugent route…there are far greater holes to fill…but using one of their later picks could be a good way to find an immediate contributor and gain some consistency at a position where there’s been endless turnover.

Using a draft pick on special teams and valuing the group isn’t unheard of in this new era of Jets football. In his first draft at the helm, general manager Joe Douglas used his final choice on punter Braden Mann and special teams coordinator Brant Boyer is a rare survivor of the purge of Gase’s coaching staff, having also survived that of Todd Bowles’ group. Douglas knows that football is a three-pronged game, and getting the right guy at the vital positions is going to be crucial to building what he and Robert Saleh are trying to build.

Drafting a kicker’s an unusual situation in any NFL era. But desperate times, times that would welcome even the simplest form of football stability, call for unusual measures.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Four areas the New York Jets must still address in April

New York Jets, Joe Douglas

The New York Jets undoubtedly improved this offseason, but there are several areas of need to address as the calendar flips to April.

The New York Jets undoubtedly became a better team this offseason. Whether that’s a result of the Adam Gase era giving them nowhere to go but up or it leads to actual results on the field remains to be seen, but the Jets have laid down a solid foundation for the Robert Saleh era. Optimism reigns for an already star-crossed franchise coming off a two-win season through the signings of names like Tevin Coleman, Corey Davis, and Carl Lawson.

“There’s a lot of optimism, especially coming off a bad season, so I’m looking forward to working. I love the process,” Lawson said in video provided by the Jets. He compared the situation to franchise mode on the Madden NFL video game franchise. “I play Madden because I love building teams. I love franchise mode. Franchise mode hasn’t changed on Madden in like 15 years, but I’m never going to stop loving it because I get to build, I get to grow, I get to improve.”

Yet, as the calendar flips to April and the free agency frenzy mostly pacified, the Jets have several areas of need that have yet to be satisfied. Competing in the crowded AFC will probably be difficult with even the perfect offseason, but the Saleh era can get off to an optimally smooth start if the following areas are satisfied, preferably sooner rather than later…

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

Offensive Line

Solving the offensive line issues was probably at the top of the Jets’ offseason to-do list, the necessity even outweighing the quarterback quandary. No matter who’s throwing the ball, he’s going to need protection.

Joe Douglas has shown he’s willing to make up for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. His drafting of Mekhi Becton was a strong start, but his free agency signings failed to pan out. Several are set to return for another season, but the Jets missed out on the big targets (Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler), adding only interior man Dan Feeney from the Los Angeles Chargers. Another addition, tight end Tyler Kroft, has gained positive reviews for his blocking, but nothing that should dramatically change the Jets’ protection affairs.

An interesting gambit for the Jets would be to draft top blocking prospect Penei Sewell with the second overall choice and letting Sam Darnold work behind a revamped line, but the Jets’ due diligence at incoming rookie passing class hints that they’re headed toward that direction. But at least one of their early picks, namely the 23rd and 34th overall selections, should be used on a blocker if only to raise the heat on some of the incumbents. Veteran help from abroad, like Kansas City’s Austin Reiter, should also be considered. Reiter, set to turn 30 in November, was the Chiefs’ starting center in each of the last two Super Bowls.

New York Jets, Bless Austin
New York Jets, Bless Austin

Cornerback

After the spending frenzy in March, the Jets appear to have a plan in place when it comes to their safeties. Marcus Maye was granted the franchise tag, which basically serves as a $10 million “prove it” deal. On the strong side, the post-Jamal Adams era continues. Ashtyn Davis will get a de facto second rookie season after injuries marred his original and the Jets have brought in a strong mentor and veteran prescience in LaMarcus Joyner to help out. Elsewhere on defense, front seven newcomers Lawson and Jarrad Davis have experiences in the 4-3 scheme that Robert Saleh is reportedly hoping to implement.

But the cornerback depth is definitely concerning. Youngsters Bless Austin and Bryce Hall have shown flashes of brilliance in their infantile NFL careers, but they’ll probably need further development before fully embracing the starting roles. Newly signed Justin Hardee is listed as a corner but primarily works on special teams. The Jets also have a decision to make on one of their free agents, Brian Poole.

The 23rd pick, obtained from Seattle for Adams, can potentially be used on the top cornerbacks on the draft, namely Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain, or Jaycee Horn.

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, James Morgan

Backup Quarterback

The Jets have not had a quarterback start every game in a season since Ryan Fitzpatrick went all 16 in 2015. If Darnold stays, the Jets should be ready for the unthinkable again, as he has yet to play a full NFL season. Should the rookie arrive, some see Darnold as a safety blanket. But if Zach Wilson or Justin Fields make their entrance, Darnold still shouldn’t stay. There doesn’t need to be a quarterback controversy and the USC alum isn’t at the “veteran mentor” stage.

When Darnold got hurt last season, the Philadelphia-bound Joe Flacco did a serviceable job in relief. But with the Super Bowl XLVII MVP donning a new shade of green, they need to be prepared in case of an emergency. The draft can’t be an option, as the Jets have far too many needs to fill with their surplus and the fourth-round choice of James Morgan in last year’s proceedings remains puzzling. If they want a safety net that can win games, Saleh and Mike LaFleur’s Bay Area comrade Nick Mullens could be an option, while veteran mentors are available through Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, or Blake Bortles.

Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken (9) celebrates his field goal with teammates during the first half against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kicker

Since Pro Bowler Jason Myers absconded to Seattle, the Jets have gone through six different kickers over the last two seasons. When you’re a team like the Jets, a team that struggles to get into the end zone, you need a reliable kicker to ensure visits to opposing territory end with at least some points. There appears to be a competition in place between two of those names (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin), but the Jets need reliability and would be smart to showcase new talent.

The Jets haven’t used a draft pick on a kicker since Mike Nugent in the second round of the 2005 selections. There’s certainly no need to go that early this time around, but the selection of punter Braden Mann with their final pick last year shows the Jets won’t hesitate to address their special teams on draft weekend. Evan McPherson (Florida) and Jorge Borregales (Miami) are the top boots this time around.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets positional preview 2021: Special teams

ESM’s New York Jets offseason preview concludes by analyzing the special teams, which welcomes back overseer Brant Boyer.

The Position: Special Teams
On the Roster: P Braden Mann, LS Tom Hennessy, K Chase McLaughlin
Free Agents: N/A
Reserve/Future: K Sam Ficken

As the New York Jets have abandoned their coaching ship twice over the past three years, Brant Boyer has proven unsinkable.

The Jets’ special teams coordinator is about to embark on a journey with his third coaching group, having survived the respective purgings of Todd Bowles and Adam Gase’s staffs. Boyer has overseen the development of Pro Bowlers (sending two, Jason Myers and Andre Roberts, in 2018) and has often been floated by fans as an interim boss once they get tired of the regular man in change.

“So many people have called on his behalf.” head coach Robert Saleh said of Boyer’, per notes provided by the Jets. “He’s held in such high regard.” Saleh eventually made the decision to retain Boyer to his new staff, a rare holdover from Gase’s group.

The retainment comes at a time where strong special teams are more vital than ever. New York is desperate for offensive traction but must work with what it can in these trying times. Whether it’s pinning an opponent deep when a driver sputters out or making the most of a drive that reaches fourth down in enemy territory via a field goal, the Jets need to make sure their special teams are ready to go.

While one area seems to be settled…rookie Braden Mann earned positive reviews at punter, and gained a cult following for his propensity to make touchdown-saving tackles…the Jets have been looking for a solution at kicker ever since Myers shipped off to Seattle. Including preseason contests, six different kickers have filled the role since the 2019 season began. There was three alone last season, as injuries and inconsistency forced Sam Ficken from the post. The Jets got by with Sergio Castillo and Chase McLaughlin for the remainder of the year.

Also back for another year is long snapper Thomas Hennessy, who has spent the last four years in the role incident-free. Receiver Braxton Berrios had primary punt return duties, while former Giants defensive draft pick Corey Ballentine later took over affairs on the kickoff.

Free Agents-to-be

None

Will They Draft?

After using their final choice of Mann last season, it’s definitely possible the Jets could use one of their day three picks on another leg, this one of the more offensive type. Last season was a bit of a struggle for the top prospect Evan McPherson, but other options arose through Miami’s Jose Borregales (18-of-20, long of 57) and Riley Patterson of Memphis, who struggled as a senior but posted sellar numbers the year prior.

Veteran Possibilities

Younghoe Koo, Atlanta

Born in South Korea and raised in Ridgewood, NJ, Koo has been one of the more inspiring stories in recent NFL history. He memorably executed three successful onside kicks during a Thanksgiving 2019 tilt in New Orleans and led the NFL with 37 made field goals last season (on 39 attempts). Koo was also the NFL’s leading scorer at 144 points, tied with fellow kickers Daniel Carlson of Las Vegas and Jason Sanders in Miami.

Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay

Mr. Irrevelant was anything but for the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers this season. The final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft recovered very well after knee surgery, tying a career-best best with 136 points and converting all nine of his postseason triple attempts en route to the Big Game.

Jamal Agnew, Detroit

If the Jets are looking to spice up their return game, or at least create some competition, they can turn to Agnew, who has likewise played offense and defense during his time with the Lions. Agnew would have to work on his ball control, but double-digit averages on both kicks and punts are nothing to scoff at.

Outlook

For the third straight year, the Jets are going to spend the offseason looking for a new kicker. It’s possible that endeavor can be solved in the spring by signing someone like Koo or Succop, or create competition with the draft. Either way, that situation must be resolved sooner rather than later. With punter and long snapper accounted for,

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets waive veteran K Sam Ficken prior to finale

The well-traveled Ficken got off to a hot start in 2020, but his New York Jets career appears to be over after two seasons.

The New York Jets have announced several roster moves leading into their season finale against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS). Their most consequential moves may be the release of kicker Sam Ficken and the activation of starting blocker Greg Van Roten off of injured reserve.

Ficken, 28, sees his Jets career end after two seasons, continuing the Jason Myers saga on a sour note. He began the year on a strong note, converting his first nine field goal attempts and all six of his extra point opportunities through Week 6 action. A groin injury sidelined him for the next three games before he briefly returned for the Week 11 tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers, missing two extra points in the 34-28 defeat. In yet another visit to Los Angeles, this one coming against the Rams, Ficken score 11 of the Jets’ 23 points in their first win of the season, but he missed two, an extra point and field goal each, in last week’s victory over Cleveland at home.

The Jets (2-13) will use Chase McLaughlin as their kicker in New England. McLaughlin entered the league in 2019 and has spent time with eight different organizations in some capacity. This season, he was originally cut by Indianapolis after training camp before joining Minnesota’s practice squad. He later served as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ kicker for three weeks, converting all four field goal attempts, before the Jets picked him up in December. McLaughlin will become the fourth different kicker to appear in a regular season game for the Jets since the Pro Bowler Myers departed for Seattle after the 2018 campaign.

Van Roten partook in every offensive snap over the Jets’ first 11 games before leaving their Week 13 contest against Las Vegas with a toe injury. Ironically, the 30-year-old Van Roten was also paced in IR with a toe injury last season during his final year with the Carolina Panthers. Signed to a one-year deal over the offseason, Van Roten has been one of the Jets’ more consistent offensive line.

In addition to Van Roten and McLaughlin, a quartet of other Jets will make their debut on the active roster this week. Linebackers Noah Dawkins and Brady Sheldon were promoted from the practice squad, while another linebacker, Sharif Finch, and a defensive lineman, Tanzel Smart, were picked up and moved to the 53-man ledger.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets address special teams struggles through another kicker

New York Jets

After Sergio Castillo missed three-of-four attempts on Sunday in Seattle, the New York Jets will make another change at kicker.

The New York Jets have made yet another change at kicker, announcing the release of Sergio Castillo and the signing of Chase McLaughlin earlier this week.

McLaughlin, 24, joins his seventh NFL team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie out of Illinois in 2019. He has converted 22-of-28 field goals in his career, including 4-of-5 during a three-game stint with Jacksonville earlier this season, subbing for an injured Josh Lambo, a tenure that also saw him spend some brief time on the reserve/COVID-19 list. McLaughlin did manage to boot his career long with the Jaguars, during a November loss to Green Bay.

Better known for his endeavors in the CFL and XFL, Castillo converted 8-of-13 field goal attempts during his time in New York. His green tenure came to an unceremonious end on Sunday in Seattle, as he missed three attempts in a 40-3 loss to the Seahawks.

McLaughlin will become the third kicker the Jets (0-13) have used this season, the substitutes stemming from Sam Ficken’s groin injury earlier this fall. According to notes from the Jets head coach Adam Gase said that “there is definitely” a chance Ficken could return to the practice field as the Jets prepare to return out west to battle the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox). Ficken converted each of his first eight attempts this season, but missed two kicks when he attempted to come back early from the injury in a prior visit to Los Angeles in November, a 34-28 loss to the Chargers.

The Jets have struggled at kicker since Pro Bowler Jason Myers departed for Seattle during the 2019 offseason. Should he partake in Sunday’s trek to Los Angeles. McLaughlin will become the fourth kicker to partake in a regular season game for the Jets over the past two seasons.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags