Sunday, August 24, 2014
New York Jets: Cut-down analysis
By Rich Cimini
Most significant move: The decision to release wide receiver/kickoff returner Jacoby Ford came as a mild surprise, mostly because he didn't even make the cut to 75. The Jets took a flyer on a flyer, giving the speester a one-year, $740,000 contract (including a $65,000 signing bonus). They expected him to upgrade the kickoff-return unit and stretch the field as a vertical receiver, but his sprinter's speed never translated into production. Quite simply, he had trouble catching the ball. Given a chance to return punts, Ford muffed a punt on Friday night against the New York Giants. The Jets see Saalim Hakim, a former undrafted free agent, as a similar player with more upside.
Wild card: The Jets cut cornerback Ras-I Dowling amid a crisis at cornerback. That should tell you something about how they feel about Dowling, a former second-round pick of the New England Patriots. The Jets groomed Dowling last season on the practice squad and got excited in minicamp when he flashed some ability. For fleeting moments, they thought maybe, just maybe they had scored with a Bill Belichick castoff. Uh, not exactly. If you don't know by now, Belichick is a smart guy, not in the habit of dropping good players. Dowling was slowed by injuries in New England, and he was hampered this summer by a groin injury. Same old, same old.
What's next: The roster is down to 75, which means they have to make 22 moves by Saturday. The toughest decisions will occur at wide receiver, where nine players are battling for probably six spots. Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley are locks. David Nelson is a near lock. Fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders appears to be healthy now, so he'll probably make it. General manager John Idzik hates to cut draft picks. Rex Ryan identified Hakim as his No. 1 kickoff returner, so you have to figure he's in good shape. The last spot could be Stephen Hill versus Greg Salas. Salas has outplayed the underachieving Hill, but Hill's potential still intrigues. Another key area is cornerback, depleted by injuries. Idzik needs to put on his GM cap and import a competent, veteran corner.
Jets moves: Released Ford, Dowling, WR Michael Campbell, TE Colin Anderson, FB Chad Young, DE Anthony Grady, RB Michael Smith, OT Bruce Campbell, G Patrick Ford, OT Markus Zusevics, LB Steele Divitto, PK Andrew Furney and P Jacob Schum.