The Jets are refurbishing all areas of their attack as they head toward Sept. 12 at Carolina and the start to the 2021 NFL season.
New head coach Robert Saleh brought in new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. And they have been installing new systems on both sides of the ball. For LaFleur, it's the West Coast wide zone scheme. For Ulbrich, it's a 4-3 front that Jets haven't used as their base for most of the past 15 years.
Many Jets return from 2020, but many more are new to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and to MetLife Stadium as their home office. Following final cuts and the flurry of activity in the days since, here is the rundown of the Green & White 53-man roster by position with the season lying in wait just around the corner.
RETURNEE: Mike White (3rd year). NEWCOMER: Zach Wilson (rookie—Round 1)
SUMMARY: The ball is in Wilson's hands, but he'll have lots of help around him, starting against the Panthers and former Jets QB Sam Darnold on opening day. Wilson showed improvement from the Green & White practice through the Giants and Packers preseason games. After sitting out the preseason finale, he finished his summer games with two TDs and two FGs on six drives and a crisp 137.7 passer rating. Backing Wilson is White, who is in his third season with the Green & White but has yet to take a regular-season snap. Josh Johnson, the grizzled veteran in the QB room, and second-year man James Morgan were final cuts. Morgan was one of 16 signed to the Jets' practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
RETURNEES: Ty Johnson (3rd year), La'Mical Perrine (2nd). NEW VET: Tevin Coleman (7th). NEWCOMER: Michael Carter (rookie—Round 4)
SUMMARY: Saleh knew of Coleman's résumé when the two were at SF last season. Coleman's 49ers impact was limited due to injuries but he's healthy again and ready to show what he's got left in the tank, such as his speed as he crosses the line and his 10.5 yards/catch — second-best average among all backs since 2000. Johnson and Perrine had good days and bold plays as Jets backs last season, and Perine, despite a late injury, has shown he can get that "dirty yard" when needed. Carter shows promise as a third-down/changeup RB.
WIDE RECEIVERS (7)
RETURNEES: Jamison Crowder (7th year), Braxton Berrios (4th), Denzel Mims (2nd), Jeff Smith (2nd). NEW VETS: Keelan Cole (5th), Corey Davis (5th). NEWCOMER: Elijah Moore (rookie—Round 2).
SUMMARY: If all the pieces drop neatly into place, Jets WR could be a pretty picture this fall. Davis and Cole bring productive pass-catching from the Titans and Jaguars respectively, and Davis has become a favored Wilson target this preseason. Crowder has led the Jets in receptions and yards for two seasons and still has superb production and versatility (catch-run-pass). Mims had a slow offseason start due to food poisoning but came on to again demonstrate his big target, sure hands and downfield dimension. Moore has shown through the summer that he can be an exciting receiver wherever he lines up. Mix in the reliable Berrios, add play action and enjoy.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
RETURNEES: Ryan Griffin (9th year), Dan Brown (7th), Trevon Wesco (3rd). NEW VET: Tyler Kroft (7th).
SUMMARY: Kroft is this position's wildcard, coming in as a UFA from Buffalo and showing his receiving chops with a pair of 18-yard TD receptions from Wilson against the Packers. Since '17 Kroft is among the top three TEs in the NFL in producing the most scores with the fewest catches (5.82 catches/TD). Griffin and Brown (after being released, then re-signed) and Wesco all return and have contributed to the Jets on offense as well as specials. Chris Herndon, the TE starter for much of the past three seasons, was traded to Minnesota on final cuts day.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
RETURNEES: G Greg Van Roten (7th year), T George Fant (6th), C Connor McGovern (6th), T Chuma Edoga (3rd), T Mekhi Becton (2nd). NEW VETS: T Morgan Moses (8th), OL Dan Feeney (5th). NEWCOMER: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (rookie—Round 1).
SUMMARY: The O-line facelift continued this offseason — of the 15 linemen on the roster in August, only two arrived in 2019 (Edoga and Conor McDermott) and everyone else has come in last season or this season. LT Becton, huge in size and potential, and veterans McGovern and Van Roten are the line's anchors. Fant, who arrived a year ago, and Moses (96 starts his last six seasons with Washington), who signed in July, battled it out for the starting RT job, with Moses getting the nod from Saleh. First-round rookie Vera-Tucker shows high upside and quickly grabbed the LG assignment.
See the Current 2021 Roster Leading Up to the Regular Season
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
RETURNEES: Folorunso Fatukasi (4th year), John Franklin-Myers (4th), Nathan Shepherd (4th), Quinnen Williams (3rd), Bryce Huff (2nd). NEW VETS: Shaq Lawson (6th), Sheldon Rankins (6th), Tim Ward (2nd). NEWCOMER: Jonathan Marshall (rookie—Round 6).
SUMMARY: The DL suffered difficult veteran losses of two free agent edge rushers as Carl Lawson went to IR and Vinny Curry to Reserve/NFI. Yet the room is still strong, led by third-year man Quinnen Williams, who's eager to show how good he can be and how good the entire line can be. Fatukasi, off of last year's active Jets campaign, Rankins, fired up after Achilles woes ended his stout Saints tenure from 2016-20, and Shepherd form an impressive inside presence. The ends should be manned by Franklin-Myers and Huff, of whom Saleh has said, "The more we watch him, he's just winning," plus Shaq Lawson, acquired in a late-August trade with Houston, and waiver acquisition Ward.
RETURNEES: C.J. Mosley (7th year), Blake Cashman (3rd). NEW VET: Quincy Williams (3rd). NEWCOMERS: Jamien Sherwood (rookie—Round 5), Hamsah Nasirildeen (rookie—Round 6).
SUMMARY: Mosley is back in the middle of this 4-3 scheme as the rock-solid former Pro Bowl LB with the Ravens who'd missed virtually all of the past two seasons with the Jets. He says he's back, he looks like he's back and he once again is a defensive leader. Surrounding him? One side was supposed to be fellow veteran Jarrad Davis, who will come off short-term IR to rejoin Mosley as soon as his preseason ankle injury allows. Thus on either side of Mosley are the Jets' two college-safeties-turned-NFL-'backers in Sherwood and Nasirildeen. Cashman, in his third Jets season, and Williams, newly arrived via waivers, are also available.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
RETURNEES: S Marcus Maye (5th year), CB Javelin Guidry (2nd), CB Bryce Hall (2nd). NEW VETS: S Lamarcus Joyner (8th), S Sharrod Neasman (6th), CB Justin Hardee (5th). NEWCOMERS: DB Michael Carter II (rookie—Round 5), CB Jason Pinnock (rookie—Round 5), CB Brandin Echols (rookie—Round 6), CB Isaiah Dunn (rookie—UDFA).
SUMMARY: Maye, the returning Curtis Martin Team MVP, and veteran Joyner head up a solid safety position, along with Ashtyn Davis, a six-game starter as a rookie who starts out on short-term IR. Corner, very competitive but very young, will be a work-in-progress. Hall and Bless Austin were the outside starters much of last year but Austin was released and the opening is being fought for by a trio of rookies in Pinnock, Echols and Dunn. Slot is a battle between Guidry and rookie Carter II, and as Saleh has said, "We've got to find a way to get them both on the field."
RETURNEES: LS Thomas Hennessy (5th year), P Braden Mann (2nd). NEWCOMER: K Matt Ammendola (1st year).
Ammendola and Chris Naggar kicked it out in the preseason, with the big-legged Ammendola winning the job after the Giants preseason game. He'll be the Jets' sixth different kicker in their last six opening days. Mann is the punter for his second season and showed improved hangtime and inside-20 potential this summer. Hennessy is the old reliable fifth-year long-snapper. Berrios returns at PR and Carter I is new at KR, with the veteran Cole backing both up. Justin Hardee is expected to be a coverage leader, as he was for four years with the Saints.