Breaking Down Jets' 53-Player Roster for the Season That's About to Start

Surveying Green & White's 'Positions of Strength,' QB Aaron Rodgers Has Stated, 'I Think We're Ready'

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Last year at this time, the Jets were still basking in the glow of their draft mastery that brought them two NFL Rookies of the Year, a lightning-fast, rising-star RB and promising pass rushers.

This year the Green & White have upped the ante. It's about the Aaron Rodgers trade in April but it's about more than just ARod. HC Robert Saleh's defensive position rooms are crammed with talent, while on offense the WRs, TEs and RBs exude big-play danger for opponents. With the OL perhaps settling in these last two weeks before the season kicks off, it's greatly encouraging to hear Rodgers say after the final preseason win, "I think we're ready."

Here is a breakdown of the 53-man roster as the Jets prep for their season opener against Josh Allen and their AFC East rivals the Bills at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.

QUARTERBACKS

NEW VET: Aaron Rodgers (19th year). RETURNEE: Zach Wilson (3rd year).

SUMMARY: It's been the Rodgers Show since his arrival before the draft. His leadership, mastery of the offense and quick-release QB skills are on display every practice. His career 4.56 touchdowns for every interception is the NFL's best all-time, and he needs 945 yards to join the ranks of the league's 60,000-yard passers. And his preseason TD pass to Garrett Wilson suggests he's all set to make his true Jets debut beginning vs. Buffalo. Zach Wilson drew praise from Rodgers, Saleh and teammates on stepping back and learning from a Hall of Famer-to-be. Tim Boyle was released at final cutdown, then signed to the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS

RETURNEES: Breece Hall (2nd year), Michael Carter (3rd), FB Nick Bawden (6th). NEW VET: Dalvin Cook (7th year). NEWCOMER: Israel Abanikanda (rookie—Round 5).

SUMMARY: Hall is getting ready to roar following the knee injury that curtailed his hot rookie start — he was on pace for 1,124 rush yards and 12 total TDs and averaged 5.8 yards/carry and 6.9 yards/touch. Cook signed as a coveted free agent in August after turning his 5th consecutive 1,100-yard rushing season for the Vikes in 2022. Carter is determined to attack this season as he did as a rookie in '21 with 964 scrimmage yards. Abanikanda showed tremendous burst at Pitt last year and this preseason. Bawden at fullback was cut, then re-signed.

WIDE RECEIVERS

RETURNEE: Garrett Wilson (2nd year). NEW VETS: Allen Lazard (5th year), Randall Cobb (13th), Mecole Hardman Jr. (5th). NEWCOMERS: Jason Brownlee (rookie—UDFA), Irvin Charles (1st year), Xavier Gipson (rookie—UDFA).

SUMMARY: Wilson and Rodgers have developed fine chemistry this summer that could raise the NFL's Offensive ROY to new heights in his 2nd season. Lazard and Cobb both put up solid numbers with Rodgers in Green Bay while Hardman showed exciting pass-catching speed and skills in KC. Corey Davis' late-August retirement has opened the door for some of the young wideouts who produced in the preseason. Brownlee led the Jets with summer catches (9) and yards (102), Gipson in combined yards (248 receiving and returns), and Charles had 31- and 24-yard catches. It's likely either Hardman or Gipson will replace the departed Braxton Berrios as PR and KR.

TIGHT ENDS

RETURNEES: Tyler Conklin (6th year), C.J. Uzomah (9th), Jeremy Ruckert (2nd).

SUMMARY: Rodgers provides this scouting report on "a good group" of TEs: "C.J. is a great Y tight end on the ball but he's also a talented route runner, he's got really good hands — he does it all. Conk is a Swiss Army knife type of guy, a really good route runner and he sets up his routes. Ruck has made a lot of strides and he's done a really nice job." Kenny Yeboah went to short-term IR and 7th-round rookie Zack Kuntz was cut, then signed to the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE

RETURNEES: T Duane Brown (16th year), G Laken Tomlinson (9th), G Alijah Vera-Tucker (3rd), C Connor McGovern (8th), T Mekhi Becton (4th), OL Max Mitchell (2nd). NEW VETS: T Billy Turner (10th year), OL Wes Schweitzer (8th). NEWCOMER: C Joe Tippmann (rookie—Round 2).

SUMMARY: The search for "the best five" linemen to start the season has come together. Brown is ready to return to action at LT after rehabbing his shoulder. Vera-Tucker is "back home" at RG while Tomlinson stays at LG. McGovern, the first Jets OL to play every offensive snap since 2018, has reaffirmed his hold on the center job. And the RT starter will be the 6-7, 355-pound Becton, who said, "I haven't been out here for two years," due to knee issues, "so why not come out and have fun?" Rookie Tippmann had an active camp and backs up McGovern. Line depth candidates Turner, Schweitzer and Mitchell all have NFL starting experience.

See the current Jets roster in photos leading up to the 2023 season.

DEFENSIVE LINE

RETURNEES: Quinnen Williams (5th year), John Franklin-Myers (6th), Carl Lawson (7th), Solomon Thomas (7th), LB Bryce Huff (4th), Jermaine Johnson (2nd), Micheal Clemons (2nd). NEW VETS: Al Woods (13th year), Quinton Jefferson (8th). NEWCOMER: Will McDonald IV (rookie—Round 1)

SUMMARY: The pass rush could be awesome. Williams signed his new contract after his career-year 12 sacks and 28 QB hits. Lawson had 7 sacks last season and, in his 2nd year following his Achilles injury, seeks to top his pro bests with the Bengals of 8.5 sacks in '17 and 32 hits in '20. JFM makes it three productive frontline pass rushers. Behind them is a formidable pressure rotation that includes LB Huff, Johnson, Clemons and Round 1 rookie edge McDonald. In the interior, the Jets lost Sheldon Rankins and Nathan Shepherd in free agency but acquired the eminently huge (330 pounds) and experienced (13th season) Woods and Jefferson to team with Thomas and Williams.

LINEBACKERS

RETURNEES: C.J. Mosley (9th year), Quincy Williams (5th), Jamien Sherwood (3rd), Chazz Surratt (2nd). NEWCOMER: Zaire Barnes (rookie—Round 6a).

SUMMARY: Mosley's leadership is greater than his numbers, but the stats are pretty good, too — he followed his career-best 168 tackles in '21 with 158 last season, 8th in the NFL, and was named to his 5th Pro Bowl. Williams enters his 3rd Jets season on a roll, with 100+ tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss in each of the previous 2 seasons. Sherwood has bulked up and is getting the shot to start on the other side of Mosley. Saleh loves Surratt's game, and Barnes in the preseason led the LBs in snaps and the team in tackles.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

RETURNEES: CB Sauce Gardner (2nd year), CB D.J. Reed (6th), S Jordan Whitehead (6th), CB Michael Carter II (3rd), S Tony Adams (2nd), CB Bryce Hall (4th), S Ashtyn Davis (4th), CB Justin Hardee (7th). NEW VET: S Adrian Amos (9th year).

SUMMARY: Some have proclaimed this DB group the NFL's best. Gardner seeks an encore after his league-leading 20 pass defenses and multiple postseason honors as the Jets' top draft pick. Reed teams with Sauce as one of the top outside-corner combos around. Add Carter and the nickel coverage is also top-shelf. Whitehead returns for a second season in the deep middle, and probably will work in tandem with Tony Adams, who excelled late last year as an undrafted rookie. The durable Hall at CB and safeties Amos and Davis provide solid depth. Brandin Echols will return after serving a one-game NFL suspension.

SPECIALISTS

RETURNEES: LS Thomas Hennessy (7th year), K Greg Zuerlein (12th). NEW VET: P Thomas Morstead (15th year).

SUMMARY: Justin Hardee is listed with the DBs but his impact is on kick returns and coverage. He drew his first Pro Bowl invitation last season after compiling 367 snaps, all on special teams, making 14 tackles and helping lead the punt return team to a No. 4 ranking and the KO cover unit to No. 6 in the NFL. Zuerlein, a.k.a. Legatron, in '22 nailed 6 FGs of 50+ yards, including the franchise's first 60-yarder, at Minnesota. Morstead returns to the Jets with the 2nd-best career net average (41.5) by an NFL 10-years-plus punter since 2000. Hennessy, entering his 6th Jets season, still has no wild snaps and plenty of downfield coverage tackles.

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