The addition of Kwon Alexander enacts a domino effect for the New York Jets’ depth chart
The New York Jets gave Kwon Alexander all the time he needed to make a decision about his future. Two months after visiting Joe Douglas and his former coach Robert Saleh, Alexander chose to sign a one-year deal with Gang Green.
We’ve already broken down the pros and cons of his game and what the Jets can expect to get from Kwon on the field in 2021, but what does his signing mean for the rest of the roster?
Making any projections around the 53-man roster after two days of practice is a fools’ errand, but if you’re anything like me you’re already starting to construct it in your mind.
Last year, the Jets carried five linebackers on their final roster out of camp, and that didn’t include Jarrad Davis who started the season on IR due to an ankle injury. C.J. Mosley, Blake Cashman, Quincy Williams, Jamien Sherwood, and Hamsah Nasirildeen all made the cut.
Due to the frequency the Jets found themselves in their sub-packages with just two linebackers on the field, some have suggested that they may opt to carry just four linebackers into the season. If that’s the case the competition is all but over.
The Jets love C.J. and they love the potential of Quincy. Kwon offers the coverage ability that has been missing and Saleh sees Sherwood as the natural replacement for Mosley at MLB.
However, I’d be surprised to see the Jets carry just four linebackers, although I understand the logic. Carrying one less linebacker will allow them to carry one extra defensive lineman.
For argument’s sake, let’s just say that the Jets are going to carry five linebackers this year and four spots are all but decided. Kwon’s signing would now put five players in a battle for one roster spot: Marcell Harris, Del’Shawn Phillips, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Javin White, and DQ Thomas.
Harris has a history with Saleh. Phillips is a standout special teams performer from 2021 and Hamsah was hand-picked by the current regime. The presumption here is that White and Thomas would be the longshots to make the roster.
Harris only has $350K in guaranteed money on his contract and has very little experience at linebacker having converted from a strong safety prior to the 2021 season. Hamsah really struggled in 2021 when he was asked to play in the base defense and the Jets were reluctant to use him outside of special teams for much of the season.
Phillips was preferred for much of the season when the Jets needed an extra linebacker and while he himself struggled at times, he did show the ability to play all three linebacker positions. If you pair that with his special teams ability I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stick as the fifth linebacker on the roster.
Signing Alexander adds a veteran presence and improves the Jets’ depth at a position that’s been largely ignored this off-season. Now instead of having to keep two players from the five listed above – players who have largely struggled – the Jets only need to pick one to stick on the roster.
Depth is absolutely key for a team that wants to play into late January and Joe Douglas continues to add it at every turn.