Training camp is over and now the Jets must get ready for their Week 1 matchup with the Bills. First, though, general manager Joe Douglas must cut his roster from 80 players to 53 by 4 p.m. on Saturday.
After coming up with that initial 53-man roster, the Jets will scour the waiver wire and try to find players from other teams to pick up. Then, they must construct their practice squad, which holds way more meaning this year than ever because of COVID-19 protocols. The practice squad will have 16 players this year instead of 10. The Jets will hold their breath hoping the players they want to sign to the practice squad clear waivers first.
Here is a position-by-position look at their key roster decisions:
Quarterback: The big decision here is how to handle Joe Flacco, who is still recovering from offseason neck surgery and not expected to be ready to play for a few weeks. The Jets can either carry him on the roster or leave him on the physically unable to perform list, which would keep him sidelined for six more weeks. It seems more likely they will carry him on the roster, but that means four quarterbacks: Flacco, Sam Darnold, fourth-round pick James Morgan (who is not ready to play yet) and either David Fales or Mike White, who would serve as Darnold’s primary backup until Flacco is ready. Carrying four quarterbacks would limit them in other areas.
Running back: The only decision here is whether to keep four. Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine are locks. Josh Adams is on the bubble.
Tight end: This is one of the Jets’ deepest positions with Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin leading the way. Trevon Wesco had a good training camp and Daniel Brown is a solid blocking tight end.
Wide receiver: Injuries plagued this position during training camp and it won’t be surprising if there is a new name in this group by Monday. Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan are the top five. If they keep a sixth, it could be Josh Malone, who had a strong training camp. Vyncint Smith is a candidate for injured reserve.
Offensive line: The new-look group has Mekhi Becton and George Fant at tackle, Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten at guard and Connor McGovern at center. Chuma Edoga should be the backup swing tackle. Jonotthan Harrison, Josh Andrews and Cameron Clark are all capable of playing multiple spots as backups. Conor McDermott is an IR possibility.
Defensive line: This is probably the Jets’ best position group. Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon and Henry Anderson lead the way with solid reserves in Folorunso Fatukasi, Kyle Phillips, Nathan Shepherd and rookie Jabari Zuniga.
Outside linebacker: This is another position where Douglas needs to scour the waiver wire. Jordan Jenkins is a lock on one side. Tarell Basham looked like he would be on the other side but is dealing with an ankle sprain. Frankie Luvu, John Franklin-Myers and Jordan Willis all had their moments in training camp. Expect only two of them to stick.
Inside linebacker: Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman and Avery Williamson are no-doubters. Patrick Onwuasor is likely heading to IR. The Jets cut James Burgess, who started 10 games for them last year, on Friday.
Cornerback: Another position that could look very different on Monday. Pierre Desir missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, but he remains their most accomplished corner. Bless Austin will be on the opposite side. Brian Poole is back at the slot corner after missing a good chunk of camp. Arthur Maulet, Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson are all fighting for the backup spots. Rookie Bryce Hall is expected to start the year on the non-football injury list.
Safety: Marcus Maye, Bradley McDougald and Ashtyn Davis could form a nice trio at safety. If they keep a fourth, it is probably Matthias Farley.
Special teams: Sam Ficken beat out Brett Maher for the kicking job, but it still feels like a question of whether he will be the kicker in Buffalo in Week 1. Do they pick up someone else this weekend? Rookie punter Braden Mann had some ups and downs in camp. Thomas Hennessy is back as the long snapper.