New York’s preseason, and a long, competitive offseason, concluded in spectacular fashion: James Morgan, a 2020 fourth-round pick fighting for a spot on the roster, connected with Kenny Yeboah, a 2021 undrafted free-agent acquisition fighting for a roster spot, on a Hail Mary touchdown as time expired followed by a game-tying two-point conversion by Josh Adams, who is also fighting for a roster spot. Head coach Robert Saleh should be thrilled – and it seems as if he is, as seen in his address to the team in the locker room postgame. His team competed all summer, fought their hardest, made plays, and improved all around.
Now, general manager Joe Douglas and Co. have to reduce the roster to 53 players. They have until 4:00 p.m. EST this Tuesday to do so.
So, who makes the team, and who doesn’t?
I took my shot at a 53-man roster prediction. For the sake of reaching the 53 mark, this list includes 53 players only from the team’s current 80-man roster. Be mindful that the front office will look to add more players at certain positions. For example, quarterback, tight end, and linebacker are just a few positions we may see movement at.
With that being said, let’s get into it. Here’s what I think the current roster could shape up to look like:
Quarterbacks (2): Zach Wilson, Mike White
Cut: James Morgan, Josh Johnson
Zach Wilson makes the roster as the team’s starting quarterback. League-shattering, I know.
Before Mike White’s rib injury that sidelined him for New York’s matchup against Philadelphia, he was the best quarterback on the field. Over nine drives, White went 20-of-28 passing for 166 yards, posting an 85.9 rating. 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan, despite recording a nice game on the stat sheet, still doesn’t look like he’s ready to be a backup quarterback, and probably shouldn’t occupy a roster spot for that matter. He’s someone who would land on the practice squad assuming he clears waivers. Teams can now add players who have played more than two accrued seasons to their practice squad, so Josh Johnson could stick around there.
The Jets have options on the market as well. Nick Mullens, recently released from the Eagles, has direct connections to head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur from their time in San Francisco, having worked with LaFleur since entering the league in 2017. Chicago’s Nick Foles will also be available, whether that be on the market or the trade block. Foles has ties to Joe Douglas – they were both a part of the 2018 Eagles championship team.
Running backs (4): Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman, Michael Carter, La’Mical Perine
Cut: Josh Adams
Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman, and Michael Carter all have their roster spots locked. 2020 fourth-round pick La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams both had their moments this summer. Perine reportedly looked to be running well. He was called “the second-best running back during training camp” by The New York Daily News’ DJ Bien-Aime back in late June. Adams, however, showed out against the Eagles, carrying the ball 12 times for 62 yards. This was a tough call, but ultimately, I decided to keep Perine over Adams.
Fullback (1): Trevon Wesco
Trevon Wesco has had no competition for the job this summer, so the fullback job is seemingly his.
Receivers (7): Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith
Cut: Lawrence Cager, D.J. Montgomery, Vyncint Smith
Although the 49ers kept six in 2020, I have the Jets rostering seven receivers. Not much to talk about at the top. At the bottom of the depth chart, I retained Braxton Berrios for his returning abilities and Jeff Smith. Vyncint Smith has a large portion of experience returning kicks, but if Friday night was any indication, it looks like Berrios can assume those duties. Jeff brings more to the table offensively – he was used in a gadget role running the ball three times against the Eagles – so I kept him over Vyncint. Any receiver that gets cut has a good chance of landing on the practice squad.
Tight Ends (3): Chris Herndon, Tyler Kroft, Kenny Yeboah
Cut: Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown
For the time being, I think undrafted free-agent acquisition Kenny Yeboah deserves to stick around on the active roster. He recorded 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns on Friday night including his 49-yard touchdown catch as time expired. Ultimately, the Jets may look to add more talent to the room. The Athletic’s Connor Hughes listed a few potential roster bubble players we could see New York add if they become available: Texans’ Antony Auclair, Rams’ Kendall Blanton, Washington’s Ricky Seals-Jones, and Bucs’ Tanner Hudson.
Offensive line (9): Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Morgan Moses, Chuma Edoga, Greg Van Roten, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, Dan Feeney, Corey Levlin
Cut: Grant Hermanns, Isaiah Wilson, Jimmy Murray, David Moore
It wouldn’t shock me to see the Jets look to add more/better depth to the interior offensive line following roster cuts. For the time being, I kept four tackles and five interior linemen. There are no notable cuts here. Dan Feeney is guaranteed $3 million this season, so it wouldn’t make much sense to cut him, although his play has been painful to watch this summer. Chuma Edoga is a player whose roster spot may not be entirely safe and could be on his way out if the team starts to make fixes to the offensive line depth. Grant Hermanns posted an 85.5 run-blocking grade against the Eagles, according to Pro Football Focus. He could land on the Practice Squad. David Moore may find the same fate. Conor McDermott, Cam Clark, Parker Ferguson, and Teton Saltes are on the Injured Reserve (IR) list, so they will not count towards the final 53.
Defensive line (9): Shaq Lawson, Bryce Huff, Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Ronald Blair, John Franklin-Myers, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, Foley Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd
Cut: Aaron Adeoye, Jabari Zuniga, Jeremiah Valoaga, Jonathan Marshall, Tanzel Smart, Kyle Phillips
I kept nine defensive linemen including newly acquired Shaq Lawson. Jonathan Marshall and Tanzel Smart both played well this season. In this case, Marshall, a 2021 sixth-round pick, would undoubtedly land on the Practice Squad where he’ll develop. It wouldn’t make a ton of sense for him to occupy a roster spot in 2021. Tanzel Smart would also be brought back to the Practice Squad assuming he clears waivers. 2020 third-round pick Jabari Zuniga missed some time this summer but didn’t play well when he saw the field, which is concerning considering the team’s depleted defensive end room resulting in opportunities for others to step up. Instead of keeping Zuniga around, I gave his spot to Hamilcar Rashed Jr., who offers flexibility to play 3-4 principles that Robert Saleh said he will implement back in January. If Zuniga’s injury is serious enough, he could be an IR addition, and would not count towards the final 53. Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry are both done for the year already and will not count towards the roster.
Linebackers (5): C.J. Mosley, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Jamien Sherwood, Blake Cashman, Milo Eifler
Cut: Noah Dawkins, Del’Shawn Phillips
I kept five players in the linebacker room including Milo Eifler. This is a position where Joe Douglas may look to add a player after roster cuts, so Eifler probably wouldn’t stick around for long. By my criteria, Blake Cashman did everything he needed to do this summer to secure a roster spot: Stay healthy. Since Jarrad Davis is out until approximately the team’s bye week, as Coach Saleh alluded to, it makes sense to place him on IR and keep a roster spot open for the time being. Noah Dawkins and Del’Shawn Phillips fell victim to my cut-downs. Either of them could land on the practice squad.
Cornerbacks (7): Bryce Hall, Bless Austin, Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, Javelin Guidry, Michael Carter II, Justin Hardee Sr.
Cut: Lamar Jackson, Elijah Campbell, Isaiah Dunn
Although San Francisco kept five corners in 2020, I kept seven on New York’s roster, including special team’s ace Justin Hardee Sr. Any corner that gets cut will likely find their way back to the Practice Squad assuming they clear waivers. In this case, Lamar Jackson and Elijah Campbell were no-brainers for me, with Isaiah Dunn being my final cut. He’s undoubtedly a Practice Squad addition. The team has high praise for Dunn, as defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich made clear during rookie minicamp back in June. Zane Lewis is on IR, so he doesn’t count towards the final roster.
Safeties (3): Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner, Ashtyn Davis
Cut: Sharrod Neasman, J.T. Hassell
Ashtyn Davis will start out the season on the Active/PUP list and will count towards the roster for the time being. He is expected to be back Week 2. Sharrod Neasman is someone who will make their way back to the Practice Squad. Neasman has ties to Jeff Ulbrich and has made a handful of plays this summer. He also offers ability on special teams.
Specialists (3): Matt Ammendola, Braden Mann, Thomas Hennessy
No surprises here: With no current competition, Matt Ammendola will seemingly assume the kicking duties. He connected on 4/4 field goals and 5/5 extra points this preseason. There’s a possibility that New York looks for a more proven kicker following roster cuts, but for the sake of this article, Ammendola stays.
Assuming they all clear waivers first, here are my Practice Squad additions (16): QB James Morgan, QB Josh Johnson, RB Josh Adams, WR Lawrence Cager, WR Vyncint Smith, OL Grant Hermanns, OL Isaiah Wilson, OL David Moore, DL Jonathan Marshall, DL Tanzel Smart, DL Jabari Zuniga, DL Kyle Phillips, LB Noah Dawkins, CB Isaiah Dunn, CB Lamar Jackson, S Sharrod Neasman
Top picture, QB Zach Wilson (Photo by Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)