The thoughts and emotions of NFL coaches, personnel people and players are pretty much the same at this time on the football calendar, a.k.a. Final Cuts Day. Certainly Jets head coach Adam Gase's view is the same as it was a year ago.
"It's the part of the business where it's not fun," Gase said, "because guys have been invested in this, especially some guys, not only over years of work, some guys that might have been their first year here and invested all this time since the spring, obviously in an unusual year and now you have to tell them, 'Hey, we're going in a different direction.' "
But each year there are wrinkles in the process, and as Gase said, this is an unusual year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all NFL teams went through preseasons devoid of any preseason games. And instead of cutting down from 90 players as in recent years, teams were working from 80-man rosters to get down to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
The Jets had 80 players combined on their active roster plus active/PUP (Joe Flacco) and active/NFI (Bryce Hall) lists. They made 27 moves to get their roster to 53, with several players who contributed in double-digit games last season among the departing.
Flacco, the veteran QB signed in May to back up starter Sam Darnold, passed his physical and is on the active roster, while two other QBs, David Fales and Mike White, were released.
Perhaps the biggest name released was backup OL Jonotthan Harrison, a three-year Jet who came in to start at least eight games in each of the past two seasons at center. Also on offense, TE Daniel Brown, who like Harrison played in all 16 games, was released.
Two defensive players with 2019 starts were also released. LB James Burgess, who was acquired off waivers from Miami, started the last 10 games, beginning with Game 7 at Jacksonville, at either at MLB or at OLB alongside Neville Hewitt in the middle. Burgess was waived, as was CB Nate Hairston, a six-game starter last season after arriving via a trade with Indianapolis. Also, S Matthias Farley, who played in all 16 games and got virtually all of his snaps on special teams, was released.
See Images of the Green & White's Current 53-Man Roster
Despite the sometimes grim nature of making these cuts, Gase said, "There is a good part of it. There some guys that when they make it, the excitement they have, you share in that and that's a great part of it. It's kind of a mixed emotion. It's not always the most fun thing to go through, but that's part of our job."
Because of the volatile nature of NFL rosters the next several days, it won't be clear which 53 Jets on the active roster Saturday will be on that roster heading to Buffalo for their Sept. 13 season opener. General manager Joe Douglas and his staff will be combing all of the releases from around the league for some possible additions to the roster.
Then there is this year's practice squad, another change in the NFL's "business as usual." The new rules allow for a maximum of 16 players on the practice squad, up from 10, and including six veterans having any number of accrued seasons. The Jets and all teams can begin assembling their practice squads after 1 p.m. Sunday.
"You just never know what's going to happen because with no preseason games, there's not really film on some of these guys," Gase said. "So guys, if they're an undrafted free agent or if they're a drafted guy, you might not be able to slip guys through, because [teams] might just go off of what they had coming out of college. So it'll be interesting to see kind of how all this works out. I mean, this is uncharted waters for us."
Here is the list of the Jets' 27 Saturday transactions, with players grouped by positions: