Joe Douglas has been on the job for more than a year now, but in many ways he’s just beginning his reconstruction of the Jets roster. This isn’t his team yet. And there are surely players on the roster that just don’t fit into his plans.
That makes it possible that there could be a few surprises over the next few days as the Jets cut their roster down to 53 players. They’re hard to predict without the benefit of seeing preseason games, which can often be a tell for which players just don’t fit into a team’s plans. But there have been enough practices and press conferences to at least guess at which “names” could be on the bubble.
Here’s a look at a few of them, and why:
QB David Fales – His history with Adam Gase won’t be enough to earn him the backup job, even temporarily. First, the job is Joe Flacco’s as soon as he’s healthy, though he’s expected to spend at least the first few weeks of the season on injured reserve. The Jets probably aren’t going to cut James Morgan, their fourth-round pick, but he’s also not likely to serve as the only insurance for Sam Darnold. Who will be? Don’t be shocked if it’s Mike White, the former Cowboys fifth-round pick, at least until Flacco is ready to go.
DL Nathan Shepherd – Shepherd was considered a reach when the Jets took him in the third round of the 2018 draft, and he’s never done a lot to prove otherwise. He was OK as a rookie and not much more than that in his second season after he returned from a six-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. The D-line spot is a little more crowded than it used to be, and since Shepherd is about to turn 27 he could easily be pushed aside to give a younger player a shot.
T Chuma Edoga – He was a third-round pick just two years ago, but he wasn’t Douglas’ pick. And since Douglas rebuilt the starting offensive line and didn’t include Edoga who started eight games last season, that’s not a particularly good sign. He could be kept around for depth, and maybe the injury issues for rookie Cam Clark this summer will make Edoga necessary. But at this point it seems clear that he’s not in the Jets’ long-term offensive line plans.
CB Nate Hairston – Cornerback remains the weakest spot on the Jets roster, so maybe it’s not smart to dump a player who started six games for them last year. But if Pierre Desir is healthy, it looks like he, Bless Austin and Brian Poole are the top three corners and Quincy Wilson and Arthur Maulet are the next two. Hairston would be the sixth and they’ll probably keep six, but don’t count out Douglas acquiring another corner somewhere, either via the waiver wire or in a trade. So if Hairston is still on the final 53 on Saturday, his stay there could be short-lived.
TE Daniel Brown – He may be a former Raven, which is relevant to Douglas, and he’s an excellent blocker too. But when Chris Herndon’s return to health, the tight end room is crowded. Herndon and Ryan Griffin are locks to make the team, and it sure looks like Gase is carving out a limited role for Trevon Wesco. Brown has been a valuable special teamer, and that may be enough. But he seems like the kind of insurance policy the Jets would want to stash on the expanded practice squad, which could be where he ends up.