Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will give their responses to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What will be some of the Jets' most difficult roster decisions?
EA: Will the Jets keep three QBs? Tim Boyle had a nice finish to the preseason and teams are allowed to dress a third QB on gamedays without using an active roster spot. Zonovan "Bam" Knight, who impressed as a rookie, is part of a backfield that will feature Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook and Michael Carter. The RBnumbers game is one to watch. We've seen OC Nathaniel Hackett employ fullbacks in the past and Nick Bawden has quietly flashed in the pass game and brings special teams value. The Jets' top four wideouts are set, but rookies Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee plus veteran Alex Erickson each made their cases. Will the Jets keep five safeties after signing Adrien Amos in the offseason and employing him in big-nickel sets? Rookie Trey Dean was a tackling machine in summer play. Brandin Echols will be suspended in Week 1, and Bryce Hall lined up as the gunner opposite star Justin Hardee in the first quarter against the Giants. The Jet have a deep TE room and Kenny Yeboah has dealt with a hamstring injury of late while it will be interesting to see what happens with rookie Zack Kuntz.
EG: Running back and wide receiver. Starting at RB, that's one of the most crowded rooms on the team with Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook, Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight and Israel Abanikanda. It's hard to keep five backs on an active roster and the Jets will likely have to let go someone who would likely be claimed by another team. Hall and Cook are safe. It's difficult to imagine GM Joe Douglas releasing a promising rookie in Abanikanda, which comes down to Carter and Knight. Carter had significantly less run than Knight in the preseason and reading the tea leaves, Knight may be the odd man out of the bunch. This time of year is so unpredictable, but if the Jets keep four RBs, someone, in my opinion, would likely be claimed by another team. The Green & White had an NFL-high seven players claimed by other teams last season. Wide receiver became a changed landscape once Corey Davis retired. Behind Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Mecole Hardman is a cluster that consists of Malik Taylor, Alex Erickson, Jason Brownlee, Xavier Gipson and Irvin Charles. The end of the depth chart often comes down to special teams. Gipson and Erickson have an advantage with their return ability, but will it be enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster?
See all of the best photos of the Jets during the 32-24 preseason victory over the Giants on Saturday.
RL: With the Robert Saleh/Jeff Ulbrich rotation system so important to the Jets' defense, they had 10 D-linemen and 11 DBs on their 53 last year, then deactivated one at each subunit on gameday. With both jam-packed with talent this year, along with the full-house offensive backfield, that will ripple through some other positions in the coming days and weeks. Can they squeeze six WRs into the 53 this year? If not, four from among the group of Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Alex Erickson, Irvin Charles and Malik Taylor could be departing or practice-squad-bound. Can rookie Zack Kuntz convince the Jets to keep him on the 53? Does rookie Carter Warren fit into the O-line rotation? At this time of year, it's always a case, as Saleh has said, "where you're just begging to have a few more days with certain young men and sometimes you can't." It's also good to remember that Tuesday's "final 53" may not be the 53 that head next week toward opening night vs. Buffalo.
CH: I think the wide receiver room will be the most difficult for roster decisions. While the Jets have an open spot because of Corey Davis retiring, there are still 11 wide receivers on the current roster. Jason Brownlee, Xavier Gipson, Jerome Kapp, and T.J. Luther are all undrafted free agents who have been trying to stand out and show their skillset all camp. Irvin Charles and Malik Taylor spent most of last season on the practice squad with the Jets. They, have also had standout camps. Alex Erikson, who was signed in July by the Jets, ended preseason with two touchdowns against the Giants. There are a lot of options at WR for a room that already has Mecole Hardman Jr., Garrett Wilson, Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard.
JP: It will be fascinating to see which defensive linemen head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas decide to keep. We have seen Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich use a rotation that asks D-linemen to come in and out of games frequently, making depth key. The D-line flexed its depth in the preseason totaling 14 sacks over four games. Carl Lawson has been out with a back injury, so edge will be a position to keep an eye on. The Jets had eight players with at least 1 sack in the preseason including, edge rushers Pita Taumoepenu, the XFL Defensive Player of the Year, and UDFA Deslin Alexandre. In the interior of the D-line, veteran Tanzel Smart had the most tackles of any Jets D-lineman in the preseason. He was a force in the run game posting 11 tackles and a tackle for loss. Smart will battle with Bruce Hector, who finished second on the team with 3 sacks in the preseason, and Marquiss Spencer for roster spots.