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Joe Douglas on 'Difficult Decisions,' Additions to Roster

Jets General Manager Discusses Shaq Lawson, Chris Herndon, Bless Austin, Others


Jets GM Joe Douglas has made 52 roster moves since Monday, which included cuts, re-signings, trades and waiver claims in addition to placing players on injured reserve while building a practice squad.

Among the surprises, at least externally, was releasing CB Bless Austin, who on the team had the longest tenure among the CBs.

"That was a very difficult decision," Douglas told reporters on Wednesday. "We made two claims on the defensive side of the ball and ultimately, we made the decision, we drafted young players at the position. Instead of asking Bless to take a reduced role, we're going to give these young guys an opportunity and out of respect to him, give him an opportunity to find a larger role with another team. Very difficult decision because Bless is a standup guy and a hell of a competitor."

Head coach Robert Saleh said that drafted rookies Jason Pinnock (fifth round), Brandin Echols (sixth round), undrafted rookie Isaiah Dunn and second-year player Javelin Guidry would be in the running for that starting spot.

Saleh spoke about the team's waiver claims — LB Quincy Williams, the older brother of DT Quinnen Williams, and DL Tim Ward:

"He [Williams] has got a tremendous amount of length for his size and he's extremely fast and violent. He's been injured in his first couple of years with little minor stuff, but to get him in this system where we feel like he belongs, we're excited about the possibility and the growth we can see out of him.

"Tim, when you watch his tape, he's got freakish ability. He's long, he's big, he's got great bend, he's got a tremendous lower half. So it's a matter of getting him into our wide nine, our style of play, and see if we can take the harness off him and see what happens."

See the Current 2021 Roster Leading Up to the Regular Season

Douglas, and the other 31 NFL GMs, has been taking part in the inevitable roster gymnastics. For the Jets, no position has been affected more than tight end. Tyler Kroft and Trevon Wesco, who almost exclusively lines up at fullback, were the only TEs on the active roster in Wednesday's practice. Ryan Griffin and Dan Brown were released on Tuesday and brought back on Wednesday. Chris Herndon, who Douglas said had a good camp, was traded to the Vikings for a 2022 draft pick.

"I think this was a situation where Minnesota was aggressive in their pursuit, starting last Saturday," he said. "I think they had a raft of injuries at the position. They felt that they needed a player that could come in and help out with them running a similar system to us. They targeted Chris and things really heated up Monday into Tuesday."

Douglas added: "Getting Griffin and Dan back in the room is big and we know what Griff brings from a leadership standpoint and we know what Dan brings from an athleticism and special teams standpoint, and his ability to create mismatches in the pass game."

Wrapping up with the defensive line, Douglas plans to add 2020 third-round pick Jabari Zuniga, who was waived on Wednesday, to the practice squad if he clears waivers. After the loss of DE Carl Lawson (ruptured Achilles tendon), Douglas brought in another Lawson -- former first-round pick Shaq Lawson -- via trade with the Texans.

"Shaq brings energy," Douglas said. "We talk about junkyard-dog mentality, Shaq brings that. He's brought it since day one. I remember evaluating him at Clemson, he brought that mentality, that toughness, that grit that we want. The strain, the intent, he brings that. So excited to have him and I know he's excited about letting his personality show and being the player we all know he is."

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