Saturday, September 1, 2012
Roster analysis: Curious and surprising
By Rich Cimini
Some head-scratching moves by the Jets in the past 24 hours. Observations:
1. Releasing Marcus Dixon. Unless I'm missing something, this makes no sense. The Jets finally had developed some quality depth on the defensive line -- a must in the NFL, as the Giants have proven -- but they cut their fourth- or fifth-best lineman. Dixon isn't a budding star, but he's a versatile backup, capable of playing inside or outside. Clearly, they think Kenrick Ellis is ready to become a major contributor, but Dixon still had value. It's hard to imagine his modest salary ($540,000) was a factor, but I'm telling you, the Jets are pinching pennies even though they have cap room.
2. Another pick bites the dust. S Antonio Allen (seventh-round pick) was waived Saturday, bringing the total of waived draft picks to four -- half the draft. He joined RB Terrance Ganaway, OT Robert Griffin and WR Jordan White. Either the Jets did a poor job of drafting, or GM Mike Tannenbaum has developed a different philosophy with regard to roster management. You don't want to go crazy over a bunch of sixth- and seventh-round picks, but in the past, Tannenbaum treated draft picks like gold bars. In his previous six drafts (a total of 33 selections), he cut only three picks before opening day -- WR Scotty McKnight (2011), OT Nate Garner (2008) and DT Titus Adams (2006). He esclipsed that total in 24 hours this year.
3. Swinging Gates. The headline acquisition of the day -- if you could call it that -- is former Dolphins WR/KR Clyde Gates, whom they acquired on waivers. He will be reunited with Tony Sparano. Gates was a fourth-round pick with sub-4.4 speed. With him and rookie Stephen Hill, the Jets have a pair of burners on the outside. But ask yourself this: Why did the receiver-needy Dolphins cut him? He could contribute as a kickoff returner, but one personnel executive questioned whether Gates will be a good fit for special teams coach Mike Westhoff. The knock on Gates, a former basketball player, is that he doesn't have a football mentality.
4. Another BFF from the OC. The new McKnight is TE Konrad Reuland, who played high-school ball with Mark Sanchez in Orange County's Mission Viejo, Calf. The Jets got him on waivers from the 49ers. They needed a No. 3 tight end to replace the injured Josh Baker; to make room for Reuland, they released Dedrick Epps, according to The Star-Ledger. If they re-sign McKnight, they can have a Mission Viejo reunion.
5. Tony's take. Obviously Sparano had an impact, even on the defensive side of the ball. They acquired NT Isaako Aaitui on waivers from Miami, where he spent time last season on the practice squad under Sparano. Aaitui had a solid preseason -- four tackles, one sack and three QB hits. He could end up dressing for games as the sixth lineman.
6. Practice squad. The Jets re-signed TE Hayden Smith, the former rugby player, and added him to the practice squad. Smith loved the move, even though he'll be making about $17,000 less per week than a roster player. "Great way for me to keep working toward making this dream a reality," he tweeted. The Jets also re-signed CB Donnie Fletcher to the practice squad, and they hope to do the same with Allen if he clears waivers.
7. The Saturday recap. Summarizing the "mini-draft," the Jets added Gates, Aaitui and Reuland and released Dixon, Epps and Allen. They have 25 players on offense, 25 on defense, plus three specialists -- and there could be more moves to come.
The Jets confirmed the three acquisitions and three releases. They also announced their practice squad: OT Paul Cornick, LB Marcus Dowtin, DB Donnie Fletcher, WR Royce Pollard, LB Ricky Sapp, TE Hayden Smith and WR Jordan White.