The New York Jets had an eventful Wednesday, making several adjustments to their active roster and naming their practice squad.
The New York Jets adhered to the NFL’s mandated cut down to a 53-man roster on Tuesday, but Wednesday saw them make several roster moves…
Unrelated Davis defensive pair, McDermott to IR
Defenders Ashtyn Davis and Jarrad Davis were placed on injured reserve with tackle Connor McDermott. Since the moves were after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the trio is eligible to return after the third game of the season.
Ashtyn Davis spent all of training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list and did not appear in any preseason games. Injury issues ate away at his rookie year, limiting him to 10 games. He earned 36 tackles, one for a loss, after the Jets chose him in the third round (68th overall) of the 2020 draft.
Meanwhile, Jarrad Davis was expected to take over one of the interior linebacker roles before he suffered an ankle injury in the second week of the preseason against Green Bay. Head coach Robert Saleh previously predicted that Davis would be unable to play prior to the Jets’ open date in Week 6. Davis inked a one-year, $5 million contract with the Jets in the spring after four seasons in Detroit.
McDermott was likewise injured in the preseason tilt against the Packers, sustaining a knee injury. He is set to enter his third season with the Jets, having entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick of New England. McDermott appeared in 15 games last season, starting one.
Tight Ends, Neasman return to active roster
Tight ends Daniel Brown and Ryan Griffin and safety Sharrod Neasman were all part of the Jets’ original final cuts but were re-added to the active roster on Wednesday. Brown and Griffin re-enter a tight end room that will be missing Chris Herndon after the fourth-year man was traded to Minnesota earlier this week. Neasman should help hold down the secondary fort while Ashtyn Davis heals. He previously worked with Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich in Atlanta.
Austin, Zuniga released
Two of the Jets’ more recent defensive draft picks were bid farewell, as cornerback Bless Austin (6th, 2019) and defensive end Jabari Zuniga (3rd, 2020) were both released.
Austin was expected to take one of the Jets’ starting cornerback roles alongside Bryce Hall. He gained a reputation as a strong hitter but struggled in coverage. Zuniga appeared in only one preseason game this summer (earning one tackle in the exhibition opener against the Giants) after dealing with a knee issue. Injuries were also a common theme in his rookie year, as a quad ailment limited him to a half-season with only eight tackles.
The Jets confirmed the arrivals of two players released from elsewhere on the waiver wire, adding former Kansas City defensive end Tim Ward and ex-Jacksonville linebacker Quincy Williams. Ward was tied for second amongst preseason defenders in sacks (3) while Williams is the older brother of Jets star Quinnen. The elder Williams made eight starts during his rookie season out of Murray State, chosen 95 picks after his sibling went third to the Jets in 2019.
The New York Jets added a goal-line target, but will they regret their failure to add competition for Chris Herndon?
Following the conclusion of minicamp activities, the NFL offseason is officially over. The next time the New York Jets convene in Florham Park, they’ll be getting ready for preseason and regular season action for the 2021 campaign.
With the offseason in the rearview mirror, ESM looks back on the green offseason that was, position-by-position. In part four, we analyze the Jets’ tight ends…
The 2020 season marked Chris Herndon’s third official year on an NFL roster. It was, technically speaking, only his second professional campaign as injuries and a suspension limited him to 18 snaps the year before, robbing him of a true sophomore season.
Yet, Herndon was a New York antique by Sam Darnold’s service standards: the 2018 fourth-round pick out of Miami was the only player on the Jets’ most recent opening day roster that caught passes during the departed franchise quarterback’s rookie season.
One could wax poetic about what that fact says about New York management in the new decade, but looking back toward that rookie season shows what Herndon is capable of. Despite working with a rookie Darnold and aging backup Josh McCown, Herndon led all rookie tight ends with 39 receptions and was second in the same group in yardage (502, 50 behind Baltimore’s Mark Andrews).
Alas, a suspension for a substance abuse policy violation and hamstring woes made his 2019 season a wash, and he failed to recapture the glory upon his reinsertion into the lineup last year, earning only 287 yards on 31 receptions. The early stages of his season were defined by a series of brutal drops, but things got better once things got truly dire for the Jets. Over the final three games (during which the Jets amassed a 2-1 mark), Herndon put up 145 yards on 14 receptions (17 targets). He also scored in each of the Jets’ final two games.
To his credit, Herndon blamed no one but himself for his struggles, even as some tried to pin his issues on his usage in Adam Gase’s systems.
“I feel like I’ve been used fairly,” Herndon said in October, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “It’s a team game. I can’t sit after every game and be upset and mad and try to point fingers. This time last year I wasn’t even on the field, so at this point, I’m honestly just thankful to be out there.”
The tight end group as a whole failed to make much of a dent in the Jets’ offensive woes. Veterans Ryan Griffin and Daniel Brown united for 117 yards on 11 receptions. Meanwhile, injury issues prematurely ended the Trevon Wesco experiment at fullback.
How It’s Going
The Jets apparently have enough trust in Herndon to pocket their wallet, especially when looking at the foreign market. New England, for example, spent over $56 million combined in guaranteed money on Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The Jets mostly kept things small, re-signing Brown to another year at just over $1 million and adding rookie free agent Kenny Yeboah after the draft.
Their big arrival in the tight end room is former divisional rival Tyler Kroft, as the former Buffalo Bill was added on an affordable one-year deal ($2 million). The Rutgers alum has developed a sizable NFL career as a goal-line option, which will undoubtedly help an offense that earned touchdowns on a league-worst 42 percent of its red-zone possessions last season. But is Kroft suitable competition for the primary role? He hasn’t been the starting tight end since 2017 in Cincinnati.
But minicamp offered an interesting twist: according to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, Herndon worked primarily with the second-team group during the spring sessions. Kroft and Griffin earned the top reps, and even Yeboah reportedly took some snaps. Herndon has indirectly responded by, per Jordy Fee-Pratt of SI.com, voluntarily partaking in Tight End University, a Nashville-based tight end summit hosted by George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Greg Olsen.
It’s interesting to see the Jets work in non-Herndon names at the tight end spot. But are they working in the right names? One would probably feel more comfortable with such experimentation if they added a veteran name like newly minted Seahawk Gerald Everett.
Are They Better Off?
Again, the Jets’ unwillingness to shell out the big bucks for a tight end probably says more about deep of a hole they dug themselves in other spots (i.e. wide receivers) than it does about their full trust in Herndon. New York, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, made an attempt to add Smith but dropped out of the bidding for financial reasons (Smith later earned a four-year, $50 million deal from the Patriots).
But the new staff has made it clear that they have plans for Herndon…he just has to earn his opportunity to partake.
As training camp ended, new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur (who previously worked with the elite Kittle in San Francisco) was asked about Herndon’s prospects going into the 2021 campaign. LaFleur offered sympathy for Herndon, as his system will be the third in three seasons for the fourth-round pick (who is a rare leftover from Todd Bowles’ final season). A summer of opportunity awaits.
“It was documented last year just how he came on towards the back half and had a good rookie year that put him on the scene,” LaFleur said, per notes from the Jets. “He’s a talented dude…He missed a little bit of time with some things but it’ll be huge for him when he gets back and rehears this system, talk to him again, and gets in there with pads and we’re out there in those unscripted periods where he has a chance to go out there and make those plays.”
Elsewhere, the signing of Kroft should improve the goal-line situation while Yeboah (11 touchdown receptions over his last two college seasons) could prove to be a diamond in the rough. But since the uncertainty that lingered in the form of Herndon has only amplified, it’s hard to give the Jets a truly strong grade for this offseason’s adjustments, at least for the time being.
Final Offseason Grade: C
Should the Jets have added more competition for Herndon? Continue the conversation on Twitter @GeoffJMags
The New York Jets announced the re-signing of tight end Daniel Brown on Monday morning. Terms and figures of the deal have yet to be disclosed.
Brown, set to turn 29 in May, will return for a third metropolitan season, having signed with the team as a free agent in March 2019. His previous NFL endeavors came in Baltimore and Chicago after going undrafted out of James Madison. He is mostly known for his special teams efforts, partaking in a career-high 76 percent of such snaps last season.
In his listed position of tight end, Brown has been used as a blocker but has earned 103 yards on 13 receptions over his first two years in New York as well. His most notable box score contribution came in a November 2019 visit to Washington, when Brown opened scoring in a 34-17 Jets win with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Sam Darnold. It was his first NFL touchdown in nearly three full calendar years.
Last season, Brown was part of the Jets’ final roster cuts but was brought back to the active roster shortly after. He earned a pair of receptions, one each in the final two games of the season, for 31 yards.
Back in the New York fold, Brown will reunite with special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, a rare holdover from Adam Gase’s staff, as well as a tight end room that also welcomes back Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, and Trevon Wesco. The Jets also signed former Buffalo Bill Tyler Kroft earlier this offseason.
With the signing of Brown, the Jets still have several free agents from the 2020 roster that remain up for grabs. Among the notables still available are secondary defenders Brian Poole and Bradley McDougald, as well as linebacker Neville Hewitt.
The wait is over, New York Jets football is finally back. The Jets finally play their first opponent of the 2019 NFL season. Sure, it may just be preseason but it’s nice to see the Jets get on the field against people who are not wearing green and white. The New York Giants will be hosting the Jets in the annual “Snoopy Bowl” this year at MetLife Stadium this Thursday to see who will have bragging rights until week 10 when both teams meet again for round 2. Obviously, neither team will have their stars out, but it is a very good opportunity for players who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the roster a chance to shine. What better way for the New York Jets to start their new era of football by beating their bigger brother for a chance to finally reign supreme. Here are some things to look out for this Thursday night.
What to expect from Adam Gase?
Adam Gase got a second chance to be a head coach in this league and he doesn’t intend on messing it up. There are many reasons Gase wasn’t successful in Miami but probably the biggest reason was the fact he didn’t know how to call plays. Adam Gase has a history of doing very short yardage throws on second and long and third and long. This can’t happen here in New York. Adam Gase has gone on record before stating that he wants to be more aggressive in his play-calling, and what better way to experiment than in the preseason against a young, up and coming Giants secondary. If Adam Gase wants to avoid being a failure in New York, he must do the opposite of everything he did in Miami.
Position battles to look for
The preseason is the best way to test for players who are battling for a starting or backup role on the roster. The New York Jets certainly do not have a shortage of battles going on and these are some to keep an eye out for.
The Jets are pretty set at tight end this year but with Chris Herndon missing the first four weeks due to suspension the Jets will have to see which one of their young tight ends can fill in and be a reliable target for Sam Darnold. The two main competitors are Daniel Brown and Trevon Wesco. Wesco seems to have the upper hand against Brown because he’s had a very good training camp with the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wesco listed as the starting tight end at the beginning of the year.
QB No. 3
The Jets have another QB battle going on this year, thankfully not for the starting spot. The Jets are looking for someone to groom into a backup for Sam Darnold the next couple of years. Luke Falk and Davis Webb are the two guys the Jets are looking at. Falk has had a history with Adam Gase being the third-string QB in Miami last year until he landed on the IR October 5th. Davis Webb, on the other hand, has no relation to Adam Gase but he does have a pedigree that Falk doesn’t. Webb was a third-round pick for the Giants back in 2017 and shows potential. Webb Hoists a howitzer for an arm but doesn’t have the accuracy to match up with it. It’ll be interesting to see which QB will edge out because as of right now there isn’t a clear front runner.
The Jets currently have just one kicker on the roster, Chandler Catanzaro. So, who is Catanzaro competing with you might ask? The answer is Catanzaro is competing with himself. Catanzaro is having one of the worst camps this year missing a lot of kicks. The Jets have had a hole at kicker ever since Nick Folk left the team back in 2016. The Jets have lucked out with their kicker situation the past couple of years getting castoffs like Jason Meyers and Catanzaro to have good years, but this might be the end of that little streak. If Catanzaro continues to struggle don’t be surprised to see Joe Douglas seek another kicker when cuts are being made. A couple of names to watch are players like Mason Crosby and the training camp favorite from 2016 and 2017 Ross Martin.
Potential diamonds in the rough
The Jets have had their fair share of training camp standouts this year and they’ll finally get to show off what they can really do against the actual competition. This is where you find players like Robby Anderson who a couple of years ago was in the same position as many of the young players grinding for a spot on the 53. A couple of names to watch are players like Tim White, Kyron Brown, Blake Cashman and Derrick Jones.
The New York Jets have signed former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin. Griffin, a former 6th round pick in 2013, has been a perennial backup his entire career only amassing 136 receptions and 1,491 receiving yards over the span of his 6-year career. Griffin’s best year came in 2016 where he logged 50 receptions for 442 yards and 2 touchdowns.
What to expect from Griffin?
Griffin comes on to the team with a legitimate chance to secure a roster spot. Due to Chris Herndon’s 4 game suspension, Griffin could find himself starting if 4th round pick Trevon Wesco doesn’t impress in camp. Griffin provides veteran insurance in a tight end room whose most experienced player is Eric Tomlinson.
The Jets offense will surely struggle without their top tight end option helping in the passing attack, but Griffin is capable and can fill in while Herndon serves his suspension. He won’t light up the field in any specific way, but he’s a serviceable backup for the time being.
Hopefully, quarterback Sam Darnold can utilize his new weapons in Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder to mask the loss at TE.