Joe McKnight, Braylon Edwards cut
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wide receiver Braylon Edwards and kick returner Joe McKnight, both of whom contributed to the New York Jets' last playoff season in 2010, were released Monday as the team continues to rebuild under new general manager John Idzik.
Edwards re-signed with the team on the eve of training camp, claiming his goal was to win a starting job. But he couldn't crack the top five on the depth chart and became expendable with the return of Santonio Holmes, who practiced Monday for the first time on his surgically repaired left foot.
Edwards was confident he'd make the team, telling ESPNNewYork.com two weeks ago that his objective was to "really show these guys I still have it and that I can play at an elite level to help this team win games."
McKnight, too, came to camp with a defiant attitude. In May he told reporters, "They're gonna have to kill me to take my spot."
McKnight, who missed time because of a controversial head injury, was the biggest surprise among 15 players released by the Jets. Veteran guard Stephen Peterman, who practiced with the starters for most of training camp, also was released as the team pared its roster to 75.
McKnight was one of the NFL's top kick returners in 2011 and 2012 -- his 29.0-yard career average leads all active players -- but he landed in the doghouse amid a turbulent training camp.
He flunked the team's conditioning test, blaming dehydration. On an off day in training camp, he was arrested in New Jersey on outstanding traffic violations. He missed practice time because of migraines and, later, with what the team characterized as a "head injury." McKnight called it a concussion.
On one day in Cortland, N.Y., where the Jets held camp, McKnight struggled to make it to the practice field, dropping to one knee three times in a span of 75 yards. He was allowed to practice, but he took himself out, complaining of a migraine.
McKnight also embarrassed the organization by engaging in a war of words with a fan on Twitter, suggesting they meet for a fight. There was also a bizarre interview with reporters in which he gave curt answers to 17 questions in a three-minute span. He used the phrase "I'm not going to get into that" seven times in the interview.
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McKnight also cast the organization in an unfavorable light last week, when he gave a New York Daily News reporter one of the media "bridges" cards that were distributed to players by the team's public relations department -- a wallet-sized card with suggested talking points for media interviews.
The team apparently had made up its mind a few days ago. Despite being medically cleared, McKnight didn't play Saturday night against the New York Giants.
McKnight reacted to his release through his Twitter account.
Love all my JETS AND JETS FANS HAD FUN. I love this place that's why this hurts some much, I loved all those guys in that locker room— JOE MCKNIGHT (@Joejetlife) August 26, 2013
He followed that up by tweeting, "BACK TO STEP ONE."
Despite his issues, McKnight is a talented player, and many thought he'd make the team because of his return ability and the lack of depth at running back. The Jets have only two proven backs, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.
Mike Goodson remains in limbo after failing to report to camp because of undisclosed personal reasons. However, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN on Monday that Goodson is expected to report to the team in the next 24 hours. As recently as last week, coach Rex Ryan refused to address whether it's unrealistic to think Goodson would be with team to start the season.
McKnight, a fourth-round pick in 2010, has two kick-return touchdowns in his career, including a 107-yarder. A part-time running back, he has 502 rushing yards and 17 receptions.
The decision to release Peterman means former second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse, a career backup, will be the opening day starter at left guard. Ducasse has been a major disappointment, but Ryan has been pleased with his improvement this summer.
Without McKnight, the Jets will use Clyde Gates and Kyle Wilson as their primary kick returners. Edwards' fate may have been sealed last week when the team signed veteran Mohamed Massaquoi. Edwards didn't play Saturday night because of a leg injury, while Massaquoi made two nice catches.
"Both Joe and Braylon had tremendous moments for us and they contributed a lot to our franchise, without question, but we're trying to move forward," Ryan said.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter contributed to this report.