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.
Let’s face it, Saleh may have done well with the 49ers but he has a lot to prove to Jets fans. His first year was a total flop. We have seen other coaches with high reputations for defense like Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles come in and almost immediately validate those reputations. So far we haven’t seen anything to show that Saleh’s defensive system will work here.
Rex took over a terrific roster built by Tannenbaum and Mangini. Had Woody not insisted on getting Farve, Mangenious and Chad would have led them back to the playoffs in 08. Saleh took over a pile of garbage put together by Gase and Macc.
Bowles validated his reputation by showing up flat in a must win game in Buffalo?
I think Phillips stays. I am sure there will be some “roster gymnastics” to fit guys in, practice squad stuff, even cutting someone like Curry and saying “hey, we’re gonna sign you back once the dust settles.” I actually think this spills to the DB room and means Hardee is gone. They have enough to replace him and he’s a one trick pony who, if we are being honest wasn’t very good at that trick. I also think it could impact the WR group. Now, that they have real TE’s and like their “12” sets, I think Jeff Smith can go as well. I’m done with him anyway. He’s not good. I’m sure there will be injuries (unfortunately) and some guys just won’t play well. This will work itself out, the best case scenario is they have to cut a good player because they have better players.
Smith’s been balling out in camp according to what I’ve see. I think they are high on him.