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Robert Saleh: Despite 'Miserable' Process of Final Cuts, 'We've Got a Pretty Cool 53'

Head Coach Says WR Denzel Mims, Who Makes Jets' Roster, Is 'a Volunteer, Not a Hostage'


One thing came through loud and clear from head coach Robert Saleh's short news conference following Tuesday's practice and in particular Tuesday's 4 p.m. release of the Jets' 27 final cuts to get down to 53 players:

Saleh wasn't kidding after Sunday's preseason finale against the Giants. He really likes what WR Denzel Mims brings to the table. And that's a big reason Mims remains on the Jets' 53.

"From my standpoint, I stand true to what I told you before," Saleh said to Jets reporters. "He's on this roster. He's one of our top six receivers. Everything else is for Joe."

The reference to general manager Joe Douglas is to the business side of football and what could still be done for the betterment of the Jets if another team were to make a rich Mims trade offer. But Saleh wasn't buying into this being about the Jets biding their time waiting for a suitor to come along. Mims, he said, is most definitely a volunteer, not a hostage.

"I have a lot of respect for Denzel," the coach said. "It's different when they don't want to be here because they hate it here. Fine, take a hike, and I'm more than happy to open up the door. But Denzel loves his teammates, this organization. Is he frustrated? Sure. He wants to play.

"And for that reason, I don't think he's a hostage. It's a lot easier to kick someone out the door if they're a jerk. That's not Denzel. He's a good young man. I'm pleased with the way he's approached this."

See the 53-man roster in photos leading up to the 2022 season.

Some numbers suggest that is true. Mims is indeed one of six Jets WRs on the initial 53-man roster after the waivings of undrafted free agent rookies Calvin Jackson and Irvin Charles and first-year man Tarik Black. Mims also played 77 offensive snaps in the three preseason games, more than all WRs but Charles (81) and Jackson (80). And Mims, with his extended play and production against the Giants, wound up leading the Jets with 12 catches and 170 receiving yards.

Yet his reps with the first offense, in training camp practices and games, were almost non-existent. This, however, was a function of the other players in the WR room who also have a say.

"Denzel has improved, but it's still just our view in terms of who are the first three. Corey [Davis] deserves to be with the ones. So does Elijah [Moore], so does Garrett [Wilson] That doesn't mean that Denzel's the sixth. If Corey gets hurt, Denzel is able to play his position. But whether anyone wants to agree or disagree, it doesn't matter. Corey is our No. 1 at the Z position. It comes down to his teammates having something to say about that, too."

The Mims angle was a microcosm of Saleh's feelings and emotions about final cutdown day. Among the cool keepers:

S Tony Adams — "Big credit to Tony Adams. He was undrafted but he just did a really good job every single day, found ways to get better and better. He's got a bright future ahead of him. We would've been sick if we'd lost him.

RB Zonovan "Bam" Knight — "It's hard to make it as an undrafted free agent. ... Bam's a young man with a really good running style, then from a special teams standpoint, great value in that respect. ... It's really cool for a guy like Bam to make the roster."

TE Lawrence Cager — "He went from being a slow receiver to a fast tight end. From a physical standpoint, he'll be a willing blocker. He beefed up to 245, but he's not a liability in the run game. He's earned his way because he is a problem when it comes to running routes against linebackers and safeties. Credit to him for creating a unique skill set that's different from C.J. [Uzomah], different from [Tyler] Conklin, different from [Jeremy] Rucker."

And among the difficult losses that make this time of year "hard," "tough" and "miserable" for NFL head coaches was the departure of QB Chris "The Comeback Kid" Streveler.

"Strev is awesome. We had a great conversation. I'm hoping we get him back, too," Saleh said, pointing to one of the Jets' 16 practice-squad slots that will be filled late Wednesday. "It's about overall body of work, too. He definitely performed, I don't want to take that away from him. But looking at Mike White from last year and this year, he's got an overall body of work, he understands exactly what we're trying to get done."

Saleh summed up the bitter and the sweet of this day of telling so many young men that at this moment, they days in Green & White were over.

"Some will never play again," he said. "Others you know deserve to be on a 53-man roster. It's a credit to Joe and the people in this building. We've got a pretty cool 53."

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