General manager Joe Douglas and his front office staff have heard words of praise from all around the NFL as they hit their different mileposts this past offseason, n their free agency signings and their draft.
Now comes another big fork in the road, and Douglas and company will be feeling the pain of how well they executed their offseason because final cuts will be debated hotly inside One Jets Drive on Monday and then the Jets like all other teams in the league must reduce their rosters from 80 players to their initial 53-man active rosters to start the regular season ahead.
"Cutdown's a tough day because we've got to say goodbye to 27 guys, and hopefully bring 16 of them back to our practice squad," Douglas told WCBS-TV broadcasters Ian Eagle and Anthony Becht midway through the second half of Sunday's Jets-Giants game. "It's a tough day just because these guys have given everything they've had for really the last few months, so it's tough saying goodbye to some of these guys.
The depth the Jets have created up and down their roster but at some key positions specifically will cause problems unlike those the team has had in the recent past. Already since the start of training camp the Jets lead the NFL with four released players who were acquired through the waivers process by other teams.
"That's a credit to Coach Saleh and his staff," Douglas said. "When you do things we ask, you strain, you work hard, you pick up the playbook and you put good plays on tape, there's 31 other teams out there. Those guys bought in. All those guys are just playing their hearts out."
Some of those tough cuts and keeps and trades ahead were debated on the air waves and in media and fan tweets all afternoon. WR Denzel Mims' future will be one of the toughest to decide. Through his agent, he is seeking a trade because of his lack of involvement in the offense.
But Mims was a featured performer for the Jets as their 31-27 victory developed and ended up with a rare preseason 100-yard receiving game — seven catches for 102 yards — plus a spectacular side-of-the-end-zone diving grab for the 29-yard TD that tied the Giants at 24-all. After the game, HC Robert Saleh repeated his view on Mims: "He's one of our six best receivers, and he's going to be here as far as I'm concerned."
Douglas offered the WCBS team no trade updates but had a similar Mims-ian perspective from before his last four receptions of the afternoon.
"He's had three targets and three catches — he's looked good," the GM said. "Denzel obviously wants to play, he wants to be a starter. We have a really deep wide receivers room, and Denzel's a valued member of that group. You see what he can do, especially on those play-actions, using that big frame, that big catch radius, seeing him running down there as a gunner covering punts. He brings a lot to the team. So we want what's best for Denzel. We also have to do what's right for the organization."
Then Douglas & Co. will have to whittle down a loaded D-line group and maybe cut back on young corners, wideouts, tight ends and backs, not to mention a fourth quarterback named Chris Streveler. Joe D doesn't seem to like this time of year as much as the other stops on the road to the regular season, but he knows what has to be done.
"We feel like we've added a lot of quality depth, at tight end, running back, D-end, the safety group, so really it's a very difficult decision to get down to 53 this year," he said. "Then once the cuts come out and we're fielding calls, we'll see what trade opportunities present themselves."